Perry Timms shares his take on a recent webinar with some of the 2015 Charity Learning Award winners.

Perry Timms, PTHR

Perry Timms

I had the pleasure of hosting a webinar for the Charity Learning Consortium, talking to three learning professionals who have been instrumental in successes across three diverse charities.

Nicola Tyzack from The National Autistic Society; Stella O’Neill from CRI and Monica Gomes from Shaw Trust.  All winners in categories across the Charity Learning Awards 2015 for successful eLearning.

We focused on three key questions, which possibly ALL learning professionals wrestle with:

  • Delivering learning impact with little or no budget at your disposal – how do you do that and win in an award category?
  • Success criteria – how do you know that your intervention or programme has truly delivered benefits and achieved its desired outcomes?
  • Raising the profile of learning – how has this created an enhanced understanding and increased awareness and belief in the learning & development function and team across the organisation?
Nicola Tyzack

Nicola Tyzack

Nicola began with a story quite literally built on the principle of repurposing.  Using existing materials, content and software, with that magic sprinkle of human effort.

WebEx technology has been with us for some time (and was being used for the webinar itself).  It’s a recognised broadcast platform, which can include visuals and narrative behind a topic or theme; questions and conversational chat threads; and the ability to record and replay the broadcast as if it were a podcast.

Nicola’s use of WebEx provided a crucially easy and accessible platform to raise the profile of both topical themes to research and deliver learning related content as well as signposting other existing eLearning programmes and materials.  Two per month were produced, these were themed and focused on learners’ needs. These were a true hit, with people connecting across the organisation and using the insight shared from them to good effect.

Nicola also took an approach which meant capturing the attention of new learners immediately, to get them into the right mindset and understanding of what learning was there at NAS and how to make the most of it. I’ve often talked about a meta learning principle – that is, learning about learning itself.  Nicola’s use of this principle was at the heart of making more out of what you already have, without having to dip into the investment fund and hope for the best.

Stella O’Neill then picked up the baton to talk us through that all-critical question “How do we know the

Stella O'Neill

Stella O’Neill

learning we built has worked?”  Information security and an impending audit at CRI created the perfect storm for learning that was needed in every dimension.

Stella’s philosophy started with awareness, and this meant good communications to alert people to the forthcoming eLearning.  Tracking email opening and click through rates proved crucial in providing assurances that this would be taken up by as large a group of people as possible.  Monitoring of completion via the LMS sounds like a no-brainer approach to take, but knowing that by 2.30pm on the day of the launch 224 people had completed the training package proved very reassuring.  The fact that by the end of the month over 2,500 people had completed was outstanding.

The IT helpdesk was also inundated when it was revealed just how easy to crack some people’s passwords were.  All good indicators that the learning was being put into practice and was working as designed.

Yet to Stella it was the anecdotes, the stories, the chatter about things people were now doing that provided the compelling evidence.  That and the Director who, on noticing that a teammates computer wasn’t shut down, sent a spoof abusive email to himself and pretended to haul the colleague over the coals.  Cruel but making the point.

These can be distilled into three key principles to eLearning success:

  • Tell people what it is, why it’s coming and how it works.
  • Track how it’s going, through hits and other metrics; incidental statistics like calls raised to helpdesks and to report things
  • Tell the story – the stories that prove this is working are as reassuring as any statistical report you could produce.
Monica Gomes

Monica Gomes

Monica then talked us through Shaw Trust’s approach to raising the profile of its learning function,  by successfully marketing their online learning portfolio and a Wiki platform.

What was really telling about this was the use of recognisable technology and the use of personas. Personas are profiles of “users” which are created to ensure products and services meet a range of people’s needs.  Knowing the learners’ world seriously raised the credibility of the learning products and therefore the learning team.  Emotionally driven content ensured learners stayed with the programme and achieved great results so this approach – to profile learners and appeal to their emotional and professional interests – gave the learning real clout.

Stella shared how CRI have also started using video to promote a lot of their initiatives; they are filmed on an iPhone (so it’s not a resource issue to capture lots of content or buy expensive machinery or external experts) and used a variety of video formats e.g. talking heads with people across the organisation (inc Directors), interviews with experts.  For their IT workshops –  to support the new IT roll out – they made a ‘Back to the Future’ video with old world vs new world scenarios (and a lot of amateur dramatics type acting!!).  This fun edge gave people something entertaining as well as enlightening.

So in summary, there were a range of top tips that may help others increase their impact of eLearning:

  • Repurpose existing content, platforms, tools and technology to get the best from what you already have
  • Measure a range of activities, value points and indicators to prove success by the numbers
  • Listen to and use stories as well as metrics
  • Use personas and emotionally driven content to affect the way people feel about eLearning content and enhance the reputation of the learning function/products
  • Communicate and launch in as engaging a manner as possible to ensure success through wide scale awareness

A thoroughly enjoyable conversational webinar with some totally committed and creative learning professionals.

Perry Timms, PTHR

Perry Timms Is the Director of People & Learning at, the founder of PTHR & the iPractice Google+ group, a Social Media Advisor to the CIPD, Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University Business School, Chief Connector at, Futurist at the IBM Future of Work Programme and a TEDx Speaker, on The Future of Work. Connect with him on twitter @PerryTimms.