It Pays To Evaluate Professional Development

April 22nd, 2014

With the work it takes to implement a training program, it can be difficult to find time and resources to evaluate the effectiveness of it.

Many administrators view evaluation as time-consuming and costly, but they shouldn’t. In fact, by ignoring how well (or poorly) your training program is engaging participants and making a difference in their work, you could be wasting time and money.

Thomas Guskey writes specifically about evaluating professional development programs in his article “Does It Make a Difference? Evaluating Professional Development,” but his “Critical Levels of Professional Development Evaluation” apply to any program without the burden of cost and time.

Good evaluations don’t have to be complicated. They simply require thoughtful planning, the ability to ask good questions, and a basic understanding of how to find valid answers. What’s more, they can provide meaningful information that you can use to make thoughtful, responsible decisions about professional development processes and effects.

Looking for more advice about planning and evaluating your training program? Request a free copy of our e-book CHW E-Learning Strategy Essentials.

A Handy Guide To ID Training Needs

April 17th, 2014

The solution to all performance problems is not always training. Sometimes it can be as simple as a workflow improvement or a job aid.

The flowchart “Is training really the answer?” from instruction expert Cathy Moore helps you decide if your organization needs a training program or might need a simpler resource. Moore has also created an 8-minute video that explains the flowchart in depth.

Flowchart: Is training really the answer?

Flowchart: Is training really the answer?

Is training the solution to your workplace problem? Contact us for a free consultation to discuss options.

Is Your Organization Cut Out For Blended Learning?

April 11th, 2014

Computer-based training makes it easy to offer unified training across vast geographic distances. However, some topics are better delivered in a live setting. You don’t have to choose between the two training methods, however, if you adopt a blended learning approach.

Take the example of the Office of Healthy Communities (OHC) at the Washington Department of Health. The Office of Healthy Communities put the best elements of in-person training with the best of online training to implement a blended learning model for their statewide community health worker training program (read more in the case study). OHC allows its network of facilitators around Washington to supplement a brief live session with an in-depth online course that contains assessments, assignment tools, and collaboration.

The training model is efficient, lean, and scalable, which allows it to meet funding variables and limitations. It makes training fast and easy, which can be difficult in Washington. It’s a large state with rural pockets not easily accessible for traditional in-person learning programs.

“E-learning allows us to reach remote areas of the state to teach community health workers. Staff only need to stay one day in each location so it lowers costs of delivering the training significantly,” says Debbie Spink, instructor and community health worker training system coordinator. “We need the support of the online curriculum. It would be cost prohibitive to offer this training only in-person.”

Is a blended learning approach right for your organization? Here are five secrets of what it takes to build a winning program.

Set educational goals

Saving money and expanding training capacity might be overall goals of moving to a blended model, but organizations need to set educational goals that fit the new strategy. Find ways to set small reasonable goals from the beginning, such as offering short courses for skill enhancement or in languages for a small set of your student audience. Start small, document successes, and then make a plan to expand.

Include trainers from the start

A new training strategy does not mean your training staff will be out of a job, but they might not realize that. Remember to include your training staff from the beginning and remind them that the technology is a complement to their work in a face-to-face setting. Work with them to identify ways to use technology as a tool rather than a job replacement.

Support student needs

Not all students learn the same way–some are better visual learners, some do fine with self-paced study, some might have different language skills. Evaluate what your students need, and when you look for a learning technology, find one that matches your student population.

Anticipate pushback

Change is a frightening word at some organizations, and not always welcome. Anticipate pushback from trainers, participants and administrative staff. Be ready with a list of benefits and get buy-in early. Listening and being open is often the best way to address concerns.

Adapt and evaluate

A blended learning model is new for many organizations, and new systems can be a challenge to implement. As you roll out your blended learning program, frequently evaluate it so you can quickly identify problems and address them.

Help for Navigating Health Insurance

May 20th, 2013

WOBURN, Mass., May 20, 2013 – Making a smart decision about health insurance is a hair-pulling experience even for medical industry insiders. The most informed people can find sorting through terminology and types of plans confounding, never mind understanding new programs and requirements stemming from health care reform. That process can be nearly impossible for underprivileged communities whose native language might not be English.

Thanks to a new online course aimed at community health workers and patient navigators—the people whose job is to increase health knowledge and support to marginalized communities—that process is much clearer.

Navigating Health Insurance is a facilitated online course that covers the principles behind insurance, the types of insurance available and how costs are structured. Participants learn why health insurance matters in the U.S., including health care reform, the importance of preventative care and the problem of rising healthcare costs. By the end of the 2-week course, participants will be armed to help patients compare plans, set up appointments and interact with insurance company representatives.

The course will begin on July 15 and finish July 28.

More than half of the people in the United States believe that they have not received adequate information to understand the way in which they will be impacted by the changes in the health care system, according to a study from Kaiser Family Foundation. A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll says “Six Months Before Open Enrollment Begins, Many Americans Remain Unaware Of, Or Confused About, The ACA.”

“Despite the fact that health care reform and insurance coverage is in the papers every day, it’s still a terribly confusing issue,” says Monique Cuvelier, president of Talance, Inc., the e-learning company offering Navigating Health Insurance. “We aim to make it easier for people to understand insurance.”

Course instructor Marilyn Gardner is a registered nurse and works with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a Public Health Nurse Adviser and Clinical Liaison. She is a Master Trainer for the Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and has taught community health workers and patient navigators across the country and internationally.

For more information or to register for the course, please visit http://chwtraining.org/insurance.

About Talance, Inc: Talance, Inc., is a Boston-area e-learning company founded in 2000. It has offered courses and programs for some of the nation’s biggest health and human services organizations and has helped adult learners reach their career advancement and personal enrichment goals. Learn more at www.chwtraining.org.

CONTACT: Monique Cuvelier, info@chwtraining.org

Hoarding Saves Time on Discussion Boards

May 3rd, 2013

The second or third time you facilitate an online course, you’ll notice that you start to repeat yourself. There are only so many ways to illicit more feedback or reply to the same questions. You’ll see combinations of words appearing over and over again and notice which trigger the liveliest discussions. For example:

“Make sure to respond to a couple other people before moving on.”

“What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?”

Make your job easier by saving your responses for the next time you facilitate that course. It’s a big time-saver, because with a couple small changes, you’re set to respond to future sections with less typing and thinking. You’ll be glad you have good responses at your fingertips that save time in the future.

[Photo credit: sean dreilinger on Flickr]

Free Webinar: Developing a Community Health Worker Training Program with Mariuca Tuxbury, March 26

March 22nd, 2013

Mariuca Tuxbury

Mariuca Tuxbury, Trainer and Patient Navigator

Join Mariuca Tuxbury and me for a free webinar next Tuesday, March 26.

Mariuca is a trainer for the patient navigator/community health worker e-learning program developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and is extremely knowledgeable about training up a group of health workers.

Together we’re going to talk about the fundamentals of putting together an online program that can help health agencies and service providers provide professional development.

Program administrators can count on learning practical, in-the-trenches tips that you can put to use in structuring your program. We’ll give a brief history of the program, lessons learned from programs around the country and a technical tour of the online training platform.

The details:

  • Date: Tuesday, March 26
  • Time: 2-3 PM ET
  • Cost: Free
  • Register: Sign up here

A Vibrant and Engaging Government Website – Really!

March 1st, 2013

How Talance built a website that’s sophisticated, friendly and worth exploring for the Patient Navigator Program in Boston, MA.

Patient Navigator Program website

Government websites have a bad reputation. Sadly, it’s a reputation that’s justified. Just click through a few official templates and you’ll see far too many are stodgy, rife with outdated information and a decade behind design trends.

When the team behind the Patient Navigator Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health decided to embark on a website, they knew they wanted to break stereotype.

Marilyn Gardner, lead of the Women’s Health Network /Men’s Health Partnership at the Care Coordination Program, which commissioned the website from Talance, said she wanted something different. “Something you’d want to spend time playing around with and investigating.”

So we set about creating a website that was “clean, sophisticated and fresh”—in other words, something completely different from the run-of-the-mill government website.

Read the whole case study, including each major phase of the project from building identity to building the site on Drupal, over at our website.

An Easy Way To Learn Where Your Site Succeeds and Fails

February 1st, 2013

If you’re not sure where to make improvements on your website, just ask. The people at HowTo.gov are wondering how to make their site better, so they put a little pop-up survey on their homepage.

Survey from HowTo.gov

A short survey is an easy way to show the people who visit your site that you actually care about their experience there, which spreads good will. Plus, this is one of the best ways to learn more about what you’re doing right and wrong.

6 Ways To Market E-Learning

November 21st, 2012

Every proud owner of an e-learning program needs a marketing push to succeed. Without support from key stakeholders, funders and learners, that program may fizzle.

Talance has hands-on experience developing marketing plans for e-learning, so here are six of our proven strategies for making a project grow.

1. Focus on the benefits

Before you start explaining what your program is, think about why it’s a great program, and then relay that information. Think who else would benefit from your training, and what problem it would solve. Put those into solid concepts, and then think about how you can tell them.

2. Motivate learners

The secret to enticing your learners to enroll and keep coming back is to make sure they’re properly motivated. Is it relevant to what they’re doing now? Do they need CEUs? Do they need new skills? Do they have to satisfy compliance? Find out what the best motivators are, and they’ll keep coming back.

3. Enlist supervisors

Supervisor support is critical, especially since they can influence (or require) staff to follow training. They are also more likely to mention it to their peers, who might see a need for the program.

4. Feature participants

Did a learner tell you about a valuable skill they learned through the trainer? Did a manager say something relevant to the subject matter? Include examples of real people directly involved in your marketing materials, and they’ll help promote for you.

5. Give it away

Make it easy for people to sample your e-learning program with small snippets. Give a demo, make the first module available to everyone and print examples as part of case studies.

6. Call reinforcements

Remember to look at other internal resources for help. Does your organization have a marketing department? Schedule a meeting so they can help you brainstorm and ask them if they can help with developing marketing resources.

Want more tips? Sign up for our newsletter, and receive tips and advice on starting your e-learning program.

Free Download: Website Pre-Launch Checklist

October 26th, 2012
Pre-Launch Checklist

Pre-Launch Checklist

Our Website Pre-Launch Checklist will guide you as you gear up for your website’s big launch day, whether you’re debuting a new site or some exciting updates. The55-point list allows you to plan your big day in advance, so you can implement your launch strategy step-by-step without forgetting anything.

Print out a copy and keep it next to your computer so you can track your progress.

This Website Pre-Launch Checklist covers:

  • Polishing your copy so everything is consistent and clean
  • Tips for fixing the formatting so the site looks attractive
  • The most important technical quality assurance points
  • Accessibility musts for an inclusive website
  • A marketing planner so you can brag about your hard work
  • Support preparation so you’re prepared for any circumstance

Get ready for launch, and request your copy now!

[Photo credit: Launch of Discovery by DLR_de]