Ebola Educational Materials for Health Workers

October 23rd, 2014

If there’s one enormous lesson US-based health organizations can take from the Ebola crisis, it’s to be prepared. Yet in my experience working with health departments across the United States, this preparedness rarely trickles down to health workers who are in the field.

If you haven’t yet begun training your healthcare staff in what to do with Ebola in your community, start now. Here are a few dependable resources you can begin with by circulating to your team:

Ebola: What Business Travellers Need To Know

Excellent introductory video from International SOS on risks and statistics about EVD. Aimed at business travelers, but helpful information for anyone wondering more about the disease.

Watch the video >>

What Is Contact Tracing?

Helpful infographic from the CDC on what contact tracing is and how the process works. Especially useful for understanding how CHWs fit into the process.

Download the PDF >>

Standard Operating Procedures for Contact Tracing and Follow up during Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak

A succinct 11-page document that outlines the procedures for contact tracing and gives worksheets for keeping notes.

Download the PDF >>

Ebola Guides and Factsheets from CDC

A comprehensive website that contains constantly updated information on new guidelines and instructions on dealing with EVD, from signs and symptoms to treatment.

View the website >>

Free On-Demand Webinar: Introduction to E-Learning for AHECs

October 14th, 2014

Length: 60 minutes

Everyone talks about online learning, but what does it really mean? We’ll cut through the jargon to explain the basics of health-based e-learning, and discuss why offering online courses can help you boost your enrollment numbers. We’ll identify the elements you’ll need to structure your online training program.

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how to get the whole team on board, what the technology requirements are, and why your learners are probably asking for online module delivery. You’ll walk away with knowledge about online training that will help energize your organization and help you increase participation in your program.

View the webinar now >>

Positive Thinking: How To Change Attitudes About E-Learning

October 10th, 2014

Don’t let negative thinking about e-learning derail your project. Use these strategies to change your employee’s attitudes.


Do your employees and trainers have a dark outlook toward your e-learning project?

Not to worry. Your online training plans need not be a disaster. In fact, the online training you provide to naysayers can become one of your best benefits if you follow these simple strategies.

Provide extra support.

Fear is often the seed of negative feelings. And technology, warranted or not, is often the seed of fear. Many people worry about technology: will they be able to log in? Will they understand how to use the course? Will they fall behind and not be able to catch up?

Provide extra support, comfort and guidance when you start a new online training program. By making sure your learners understand that they’ll receive just as much help as they need, you’ll quiet many of their fears.

New technology also seems scarier in concept than in reality. You can soothe apprehension by providing an orientation to learners, either a pre-recorded version or in an in-person session. (For an extra boost, read Tech Support Survival Guide.)

Provide blended learning.

Many people resist online training because there’s a lot to like about in-person training. They like seeing the instructor in person. They look forward to the opportunity to network with colleagues they rarely see. They like the tea and cookies.

But launching a new online training project doesn’t mean you have to abandon your in-person training. You can marry the two by providing blended learning. Many programs, especially longer ones, often include in-person elements, such as a live kickoff session or a conclusion together to practice new skills.

Read more about what it takes to launch a blended learning project.

Reinforce in the workplace.

The best hopes you have of employees retaining what they learn is to reinforce learning in the workplace. Another benefit of reinforcing new skills right away is that other employees will see the effects of the training. That could be enough to institute an attitude shift.

Make it usable.

Not all online training programs were created equal. Some are, simply put, horrid. Many people have a bad attitude about e-learning because they’ve had a bad experience with it before. They’re too long, they’re boring, they don’t relate to an employee’s job, the technology is awkward.

You can, and should, address each of these issues in turn. By aligning your material to your organizational goals, it will relate to each learner. By using good, dependable system, you’ll limit technology problems. By hiring the right curriculum developers to create engaging content, you’ll have courses that people want to take.

Read 7 Resources That Will Improve Your Training Program’s Accessibility.

Make benefits clear.

Employees rarely jump at any extra work simply because. They want to know what’s in it for them, so tell them. Make sure they know what the benefits of the training are and why they should be taking the course.

Benefits can be anything from new skills in the job (“You can receive this new equipment if you learn to use it”) or tangible items, like certificate of completion or a recognition plaque. Even the smallest reward can make learners feel like they’ve received something worthwhile from their course.

Free Case Study

How AHEC of Southeastern Massachusetts Successfully Shifted to Online Training

Read about how this health education organization increased their capacity to train learners with e-learning.

Download the case study

Register for What Every AHEC Needs To Know About Online Training

September 25th, 2014

CHWTraining.org (a project of Talance) is hosting a free webinar event on October 7 for any AHEC administrator hungry for information about how to expand education and enrollment through e-learning. Directors, program administrators and trainers from AHECs are invited to attend.

Introduction to E-learning: What Every AHEC Needs To Know About Online Training is complimentary and will begin at 1pm Eastern (10am Pacific), during which you’ll learn:

  • How to get the whole team on board
  • What the technology requirements are
  • Why your learners are probably asking for online module delivery
  • And much more!

Space is limited for this event, so you don’t want to miss your chance to get in on the action. Please register now!


Date: Oct. 7, 2014

Time: 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern

Duration: 60 minutes

Register for the webinar >>

The Hidden Challenges of Training Remote Learners

September 23rd, 2014

Most administrators think that online training is the easy solution to training workers who live and work in remote, rural locations. These tips will help your distance learning program a bigger success.

internet cafe

People who live in remote areas are often left out of excellent training opportunities. They simply live too far from a central meeting space to participate in many courses.

Online learning is an obvious solution because organizations can deliver high-quality education without the need of a meeting space. So directors and managers often throw online courses at their most far-flung workers and consider the job done.

Sure, Internet-based training really can make all the difference between building skills as a professional and lacking knowledge. But training people who live far from their peers isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Programs separated by geographical distance will be even better if a few key factors are addressed from the onset.

Provide contact with mentors or coaches.

If a worker works in an office, they have regular contact with managers or coaches and can use new skills with their supervisors right away. Some remote workers don’t have regular access to supervisors or mentors, so what they pick up in class could sit stagnant.

If mentors aren’t in the learners’ communities, put them there, at least virtually. This could mean setting up phone calls with a coach to discussion implementation of the skills, or requiring regular online check-ins through the forums or email. A little extra attention, and accountability, can make a big difference in a health worker implementing what they learned faster and better.

Establishing networks with peers.

One tremendous benefit to working with others in an online course is being able to make connections with people who also work in and understand the community. People quickly seek out others that live nearby and might already know of helpful resources in the area. Some programs even encourage out-of-class networking  by offering in-person sessions to complement online time.

If a learner sees there are no nearby peers in their class, they’re more likely to feel disengaged and ignore the opportunity to make connections online. You can address this by offering ways for people to connect:

  • Create activities that foster group work.
  • Invite people in complementary job functions to participate in the course if they live or work in the same area.
  • Schedule semi-annual or quarterly networking meetings so people can connect outside of class time.
  • Encourage participation in online peer groups outside the course.

Provide reliable technology access.

Internet connection in faraway places might not be easy for everyone. Some people rely on libraries or other public terminals for connectivity. These terminals could be in small facilities with limited open hours and competition for use. Bad roads or spotty Internet connections, made worse in bad weather, can make this even more of a challenge.

If you can, establish additional places or kiosks that learners can use for their work. You might be able to send a laptop or iPad to a nearby office or even make one available to the learner so they can participate. Do a little groundwork and find out where public computers are located so you can give your learners a list of places they can access.

Even if remote learners have a home or work internet connection, loosen your policy to accommodate outages. Downed phone lines during ice storms can cut off a community and make a learner miss deadlines. Notify your facilitator where learners before class so they can be aware of any kinds of access blocks.

Remember that a learner can be “remote” even if they’re down the block from your head office. Job interruptions, vacations and a busy life can all interrupt participation in a class. Think about how these strategies apply to all your learners, and you could find that your online learning program is an even greater success.

Photo credit: Internet Cafe / Butchery by Eric Parker on Flickr.

AHEC of Southeastern Massachusetts: An E-learning Case Study

September 18th, 2014

Summer is over, and it’s time to start planning new training programs for your learners.

If you’ve wondered how you might transition to an online learning strategy, here’s a case study to give you some confidence and inform you of best practices. The short case study How AHEC Of Southeastern Massachusetts Successfully Shifted To Online Training (PDF; 633 KB) shows how AHEC of Southeastern Massachusetts launched two new courses online and kicked off a new e-learning method of serving learners.

Download the Case Study

Top 10 Ways To Help Learner Retention You Might Not Have Known

September 16th, 2014

Following the positive response we received from our article Ways to Increase E-learning Participation, we offer 10 more ways to help learners lock away lessons.

1. Address common reasons learners don’t retain information.

The most common reason people don’t retain learning is they don’t finish a course. If you can find out what the underlying reasons are for dropping out, you can present your learners with an experience they can use. In most cases, withdrawals are due to family, job commitments, vacations and poor time management. Change up when and how you offer your information, and you can make it easier for students to complete.

2. Encourage learning outside the classroom.

Whether a course happens in person or online, what happens during class time represents only part of the learning process. In order to make sure people keep learning when they’re outside of the classroom, which is the best way to encourage retention, apply lessons to work time during coaching sessions, or supply tools and resources that can be used on the job.

3. Give relevant examples.

Concrete examples that relate closely to a learner’s work or their lives is a proven way for learning to stick. Present case studies of real people or situations. Interview in-house experts and use their contribution as learning material. Avoid generalizations and vagueness, and participants in a course will find it much easier to understand how what they’re learning relates to their job.

4. Encourage participation.

Flat, one-sided courses are a sure ticket to inattention and boredom. Participation greatly helps people interact and remember material. If you use a facilitator, make sure they’re asking questions to check understanding. Ask students to research a concept and explain it to the rest of the class. Group work and role plays are also helpful activities for encouraging participation.

Combating E-learning Slackers

5. Use a little humor.

Professional development courses don’t have to be boring, but many of them end up dry. Inject a little humor into the course and people will remember the joke when it’s connected to a lesson.

6. Provide plenty of support.

Some learners are unengaged because they’re bogged down with the technology or aren’t sure how to proceed. Begin early by identifying learners who are at risk of dropping out or who have little technical knowledge. If you have physical space, appoint someone who can sit down at a computer with the learner and guide them through tasks.

7. Refer to previous and future learning.

Job training doesn’t happen in isolation–it should be a continuum of learning experiences before and after the course you’re offering. Provide reference to foundational courses learners might have taken in the past, and give the course future context.

8. Use mixed media.

Some learners are visual, some are auditory and some do better with written text. Mix up how you present information, and you’ll better reach students with different learning styles. Read 7 Supereffective Ways To Address Every Learner for more ways to teach different learning styles.

9. Challenge learners.

Is your class hard enough? If the course is too pattycakey, learners will quickly feel bored–or worse, insulted–and switch off. Challenge learners with enough work, questions that make them think, asking them to research.

10. Make sure you’re not asking too much.

Some courses, on the other hand, are too hard. Learners can become discouraged quickly, which also makes them switch off. Make sure your material is targeted correctly and that you’ve provided learners with the appropriate foundational work they’ll need to succeed.

Free Case Study

How AHEC of Southeastern Massachusetts Successfully Shifted to Online Training

Read about how this health education organization increased their capacity to train learners with e-learning.

Download the case study

The Beginner’s Guide To Blending Live and Computer-Based Training

September 12th, 2014

Your learners will thank you for discovering the best way of delivering educational materials.

Blended learning takes the best of in-person training and melds it with the best of online training. It’s a principle that predates e-learning, because teachers have been mixing facilitation methods for years as they mix different facilitation methods, resource formats, and technologies. What makes it relevant to the e-learning world is part of the teaching occurs with an Internet connection.

Here’s a fairly typical format for a blended training program we see at Talance:

Typical blended learning format

Why Use Blended Learning?

Blended learning is a flexible approach to addressing a range of learning styles and also adapting content to the right format. For example, communication techniques might be better addressed in a live setting, while HIPAA regulations are easy to teach online. Studies have shown that it’s easier to keep a group engaged for longer with a blended program.

How To Use Blended Learning

The first step is to figure out what you really need. This means conducting a needs assessment, which I’ll assume you already did. If not, read about the importance of a needs assessment.

If you offer only in-person training, you probably already know about this method’s benefits–and drawbacks. You can segue into blended learning by looking critically at what portions of your program can easily be delivered online, or those pieces that lack consistency. Depending on your technical capacity, it might be relatively straightforward to convert those into an online format.

An easy way to augment your live program is to look at off-the-shelf online courses that you can supplement your own program. There are many options for these ready-to-go offerings, but here are some examples of courses we offer for health workers through our project CHWTraining.

Some organizations offer only online training, often relying heavily on off-the-shelf courses and deploying them to staff members. This can work out fine, but you might be able to increase engagement and retention if you supplement with in-person elements. For example, you might have an in-person kickoff session to introduce learners to the technology and subject they’re about to learn. Or you might assign coaches to teams to apply what they learned online in the field.

If you’re starting from scratch and need to figure out what makes the most sense offering online and what should be in person, you can follow this helpful example from Learning Solutions magazine’s article “Content Analysis: Key to Excellence in Your Blended Learning.” The author explains how to think of a course as “a collection of content, which can be organized in a ring binder or a folder in a computer.” Looking at those pieces of content, you can decide which can be better delivered online, and which can be better delivered in person:

In face-to-face learning, these materials would appear in the form of reading materials, handouts, worksheets, presentation media, and testing materials. In self-paced e-Learning, raw media elements would contain multimedia, including audio, animation, and videos as well as text and images. Also, assessments in self-paced e-Learning are designed such that an instructor’s presence is not required.

An important takeaway for any administrator thinking of integrating blended learning is that it is not about eliminating anyone’s job or replacing a human with technology. Blended learning is a way to serve your learners better by enhancing their experience and by giving trainers more teaching tools.

Free Download

How Washington’s Office of Healthy Communities Uses Blended Learning to Train up to 500 Employees a Year

Download Talance’s free case study to learn how this state department created a successful program to train community health workers.


A Guide To Online Learning Delivery

September 10th, 2014

The term “online learning” is notoriously slippery. One person’s PDF handout is another person’s webinar.

While defining the way you deliver training online might be confusing to the uninitiated, there is a method that the industry follows. Here’s a handy little guide to how e-learning is delivered, which is summed up in two words: asynchronous and synchronous.

Asynchronous: Learning At Different Times

Asynchronous means that learners may be in the class together, but they’re not online at the same time. One person might log in to review their work in the morning, while another logs in at midnight. They’re reviewing the same information, they even might be completing assignments together, but they do their work at different times. The work gets done when the learner does it.

There may or may not be a facilitator or instructor with asynchronous learning.


  • College courses
  • Self-paced courses
  • Instructor-led classrooms
  • Bulletin boards or discussion forums
  • Communities of practice

Synchronous: Learning At The Same Time

In online training, synchronous means that everyone completes the training together, at the same time. In practical terms, this means there’s a scheduled time to show up and finish, and everyone has to follow the same schedule. The work gets done only during a specified time.

There is a facilitator or instructor with synchronous learning.


  • Webinar
  • Live discussions or chats
  • Live online classrooms
  • Meetings
  • Presentations

There are mixtures of these classifications, and many programs also incorporate an in-person element with blended learning (read more about blended learning). These classifications form the basis of most online training programs, and knowing the difference between them will help inform your decision about what kind of training is right for you.

Try Synchronous Learning For Yourself

Curious to see what some of these learning methods look like? Try out yourself in our free upcoming webinar Introduction to E-Learning: What Every AHEC Needs To Know About Online Training.

5 Apps & Tech Tools to Try for Online Training

August 29th, 2014

Dozens of new services and promise to bring strength to your online training program. Here are five that are honestly useful.

Unless you’re considering setting up and hosting your own online learning program in-house (most organizations go with a managed hosting company like Talance unless they have a dedicated technical department with specialists), the list of technical tools you actually need to run your program is pretty short:

  • A computer
  • A mobile device for testing
  • Headphones, speakers or some way of listening to audio
  • A connection to the Internet

Meanwhile, the list of software, apps and online services that promise a more productive and engaging online learning program continues to grow. Look at this enormous list of lists from Education World magazine, for starters.

You can spend years sifting through the options, but here are a few that we honestly think are helpful for administrators and instructors.

  1. ASTD Trainer’s Toolkit (app) – This unique app from ASTD is best for course building and instruction. It has ideas for activities and reminders for interacting with students, plus ways to keep notes and make bookmarks.
  2. Chief Learning Officer magazine (app) – Required reading if you’re considering setting up an online learning program. “Chief Learning Officer magazine is the foremost business resource for senior executives in the workforce learning and development industry, providing access to reliable information and insight into trends and developments in organizational development, strategy, employee training, leadership development, succession planning and instructional technology.”
  3. Diigo (web service) – Diigo is an old education standby for tracking bookmarks online (see the education edition). It keeps progressing, however, and the latest version is easy to use and features powerful sharing and note-taking features.
  4. Flashcard Apps (app) – “Flashcards are no longer tied to paper. Now with the help of your iPhone or iPad, you can have digital flashcards. We compare the best ones in this AppGuide.”
  5. TeacherKit (app) – This app lets instructors keep track of how their learners perform, including attendance, gradebook, assignment lists and more.