Last updated: 20.09.11

Children's charity wins recognition for its e-learning

The children's charity Barnardo's has been honoured in the 2011 Charity Learning Awards for its innovative use of virtual learning technologies.

Headed by assistant director of information services, learning and communication Lisa Johnson, the relatively small team spearheaded and implemented training across 400 sites in the UK and Northern Ireland, helping to reach 7,500 staff at the charity.

Judges were impressed by the various technologies including the charity's e-learning course, virtual classrooms, video wikis and an online learning community portal - all of which has had a "major impact" on the way the charity supports its employees, according to Ms Johnson.

She described how, initially, staff members were reluctant to try e-learning as they felt "isolated" through it.

"By introducing individual learning contracts, team-based learning and promoting learning in small bite-sized modules, we helped people overcome their concerns," Ms Johnson explained.

Demonstrating the progress her department had made, she added that 60 per cent of the charity's continued professional development strategy was now delivered online. This has helped bring the total number of learners reached through e-learning and the like to 54 per cent more in 2010-11 compared to levels seen in 2006-07.

An apparent shift has therefore been fostered through the technology, creating a noticeable impact on the charity's overall learning culture.

Martin Baker, chief executive officer of the Charity Learning Consortium, said the award represented an "inspirational example of how a small team can achieve a great deal", before adding that it was a great story for other businesses to follow, not limited to charities.

Organisations such as healthcare bodies are also seeing the benefits of using specialised online courses and virtual education systems to enhance and improve the skills of their workforce. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust is one professional body utilising ICT systems for these purposes.

Unlike e-learning modules available to the general public, the trust has developed a course designed to assist medical staff in helping patients avoid alcohol misuse, BBC News reports.