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article imageQ&A: Transforming healthcare through eLearning Special

By Tim Sandle     Dec 18, 2019 in Health
E-learning is being applied to healthcare in various ways, from helping with trainee nurses to providing support learning to medical staff in mental health issues. Recognized expert Elaine Teale explains more.
Elaine Teale, CEO of Day One Technologies, has long been a spokesperson about the benefits of learning technology to solve issues within the healthcare sector. A psychology graduate, Teale applies the methods learned during the course to the design of the learning portals, meaning participants have a better success rate and engage more.
Digital Journal: What’s new in the world of learning?
Elaine Teale: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are fast becoming the latest trends across all sectors, and it’s no different within the learning industry.
In layman’s terms, AI and machine learning both refer to technologies that are able to react to and learn from specific tasks, but in the context of learning, it refers to processes which have a programmatic understanding of specific content, and react to user behaviour in order to create a better learning experience.
Not only does this mean that content is then capable of being tailored to a wide variety of learners, it also encourages developers to do things over and above the basic serving up of content and providing stats on it, thus improving the potency of elements of content.
DJ: How can learning technology aid the learning process?
Teale: Technology adds a different dimension to traditional styles of learning that often present challenges to learners and that also in the past, have been proven ineffective. No longer do learners want to, nor have the capacity to sit and read through pages of text in a book, they want to be able to learn in an interactive and accessible way.
We know that the first challenge to overcome in any learning process is engaging the learner; if they’re won over from the start by the accessibility and interactivity of the learning content, their entire journey is likely to be a much more positive one. Technology has provided developers with this advantage.
Firstly, we’re now in a position where we can create a variety of different online-learning platforms, with the learner-journey tailored to each individual learner because of the vast array of technological advancements available. As most are based on algorithms, we are able to introduce scenario-based learning, which teaches users appropriate skills that they can apply to real life situations. Furthermore, we’ve also been able to create true-to-life system simulations, which are perfect for on-boarding new staff. System simulations closely match the look, feel and functionality of work-based software, so users learn their trade on an eLearning platform that is as true-to-life as the real deal.
Secondly, the adaptability of each platform allows content to be updated quickly, so if requirements, standards, guidance etc. change, there won’t be a need to create a whole new platform. This cost-effective method is obviously a major advantage for those investing in eLearning.
DJ: Which types of technology hold the greatest promise?
Teale: Well, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have gained a lot of air time. These technologies are still emerging and there are major problems with the delivery and take up, but they do seem to point the way to more immersive ways of training, improving the efficacy of eLearning.
However, more interactive and human-centric thinking about eLearning, combined with more inventive ways to deliver it on screen-based devices, may well be good enough to increase efficacy near to what VR/AR promises to, without the killer cost and maintenance problems.
DJ: What is involved in the design of a learning portal?
Teale: The user experience needs to be well thought out as lots of different types of people will use it such as trainees, trainers, subject matter experts, managers and administrators. Learning systems need to cater for a range of skill sets from people with limited experience with learning platforms, right through to power users, so it’s about being flexible.
Ideally, a learning portal should be designed to be extended and changed as easily as possible as the requirements from clients change rapidly, so the portal needs to adapt to that.
People understand that an LMS needs an API to facilitate user access (e.g. Single Sign On) and data transfer for analytics. This can be a tough ask as every client has different wants and needs.
A good approach to facilitate this is to build the LMS or learning portal as a set of independent modules covering core areas of functionality and use a code framework enabling easy collaboration and innovation. Full ownership of all the software is essential to avoid roadblocks to development.
DJ: Which types of sectors most benefit from this type of learning experience?
Teale: I’d definitely say the Healthcare and Finance sectors stand out here. Both involve complex system processes and a variety of niche roles that are regulated by authorities, meaning skill requirements quickly change.
Furthermore, training is often across large user bases and eLearning has been proven to be a ripe area for cost savings and the need for higher productivity. Given that budgets are a priority within healthcare, its benefits are especially magnified within this sector.
DJ: What types of technologies is Day One Technologies involved with?
Teale: We work with many established technologies for developing eLearning, such as using packages to produce content, graphics and videos, and we have developed in-house tools to improve the development process.
Alongside this, we build our own learning platforms and content development tools to aid system simulations and scenario based approaches to eLearning content, these are all based around Extensible Mark-up Language (XML).
One interesting area is collaborative eLearning, where people can be paired to work together on tasks and take on certain roles. We are working with web sockets to improve these learning tools.
DJ: Are there any case studies that you’d like to share?
NBS Chorus, a collaborative software platform for the Construction Industry. It enables specifications to be created to UK, Canadian and Australian industry standards online, from any device by all members of the project team.
NBS Chorus was looking for a full eLearning solution. They needed on-boarding training for their customers on how to get the most out of the platform, as well as a bespoke LMS to access the content.
They wanted the eLearning content to look and feel just like their software, and for learners with different roles (we identified seven learning pathways) to only access the material relevant to their specific role. The content had to be interactive and immersive to increase user engagement and learner uptake, with the twin aims of reducing the burden on the NBS customer support team and driving sales revenues.
We delivered a bespoke LMS that contains all the branded elements (font, colours, right amount of ‘white space’!) of their existing platform and their website. The training was delivered using system simulations (Walk Through, and Try It) that gave learners an opportunity to try a simulation of NBS Chorus in an effort to accomplish true-to-life tasks. It was broken into twelve modules and different subsets of these twelve were delivered to the different roles. The eLearning content integrates seamlessly with the Chorus software, so the learner can access the content directly at their point of need.
The eLearning has only been rolled out very recently, but it’s already making a difference.
DJ: Where will elearning technology head next?
Teale: Tailored learning for the workplace (where it is based on behaviours), that’s adapted and/or prioritized for individual users, is a big research area. The theories here are well known, but the problem is how it can be done practically. At the moment, not much behaviour tracking is done in the workplace but it’s a tricky area with GDPR and associated legislation on privacy.
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