Nicola Tyzack used creativity and determination to create online resources to engage and support eLearners at the National Autistic Society. Judges of the Charity Learning Awards 2015 were so impressed by her results, which she achieved with no budget at all, she won the award for the ‘Best use of resources’.

Using learning technologies is embedded into the culture at the National Autistic Society (NAS), but the charity wanted to ensure that staff were fully engaged and supported with eLearning. As the sole Organisational Development Administrator, with no budget, and no other resources available to her, Nicola Tyzack had to be really inventive to come up with a solution.

She decided the best approach to encourage and support new staff to use the eLearning on offer was to create a multimedia mix of resources, such as running introductory WebEx sessions and releasing new videos.

“The main thing I learnt was to look at what you already have available to you and see if you can use it for another purpose,”
Nicola Tyzack, the National Autistic Society.

Already familiar and comfortable with using WebEx technology, she found writing a new online webinar session was quite straightforward.  “I considered what a new learner would want to know and planned a series of brief WebEx sessions to showcase the site. The only cost implication to this was my time,” she explained.

Without specific software, creating new video resources didn’t at first appear so easy. Luckily, a colleague recommended a free download called Icecream Screen Recorder, which allows you to record up to a 10 minute video for free. “The software is great as you can select the section of the screen you wish to record and away you go,” said Nicola.

The introductory WebEx sessions have proved to be really useful for new learners.  And with the support of the charity’s human resources (HR) team – who pass on dates of sessions during inductions with new staff – they’re recommended from the word go.

Nicola asks for learner feedback straightaway to measure effectiveness, but also checks back after a few weeks to see if they found the initial site tour helpful.

The videos Nicola has created have only been ‘live’ for a short time, but initial feedback proves they are a much needed resource: “To give staff and volunteers the opportunity to watch a brief video at any time, rather than having to wait to speak to someone during office hours for an answer if they are unsure of something, is a big step forward – especially when we have shift workers who might not have the chance to contact me during the day,” she said.

As an unexpected bonus, the free video software is being used to create other resources for the charity’s internal HR learning management system, proving to be a great way of providing resources for the future.

Martin Baker, founder and CEO of the Charity Learning Consortium paid tribute to Nicola’s sterling work: “This is a shining example of what our members achieve every day, using creativity to do ‘more for less’. It shows a resourceful use of free software, and a compelling, economic and effective way of delivering great eLearning content. Congratulations Nicola!”  

The National Autistic Society also won the Charity Learning Award 2015 for the Most effective use of Moodle for blended learning. Nicola Tyzack is a former Charity Learning Award L&D Professional of the Year.

Nicola Tyzack, Organisational Development Administrator at the National Autistic Society, gives her top tips for creating learning resources with no budget:

  • When I was given the task of finding a solution to not only encourage learners, but to offer them ongoing support, I didn’t know how I could find time to address this. I needed a fix that would be easy and sustainable. The main thing I learnt was to look at what you already have available to you – see if you can use it for another purpose.
  • The use of WebEx was pretty straight forward and I am considering coaching other colleagues to run these sessions themselves, so there will be a variety of hosts. This will also benefit them as a learning opportunity, as well as freeing up my time. If I started again, I’d be inclined to involve a colleague from the start, so it’s a joint project with more than one voice delivering the content.
  • Finding free software was a great bonus and the fact that it can be used for other projects will prove invaluable.  Consider what else you can do with something in the long term as you may be very surprised.
  • Make sure you script sessions or videos and that the content is easy to follow and relevant to your audience.

About the Charity Learning Consortium

The Charity Learning Consortium enables cost effective, quality eLearning to be offered to more than 500,000 staff and volunteers across the third sector in the UK – engaging staff that more traditional learning & development may not reach.

Consortium members save twice as much money on L&D compared to non-members in the sector; are twice as likely to report positive changes in staff behaviour and almost three times more likely to report that using learning technologies has improved their organisation’s productivity.
More than 120 charities, housing associations and not for profits already benefit from collaborating with our unique organisation. To find out more please connect with us on twitter @charitylearning. We also love to chat, so do please give us a call on 08451 707 702

About the National Autistic Society

The National Autistic Society is the leading UK charity for people on the autism spectrum, and their families. It provides information, support and pioneering services and campaigns for a better world for people with autism.