Samaritans adopts elearning

National emotional support charity, the Samaritans, is introducing elearning to its volunteers across the UK and Ireland.

The delivery of cost effective face-to-face training is essential for Samaritans, with 17,000 volunteers throughout UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland. 

Elearning offers great value for money and can be organised to fit in with trainees’ personal schedules as it can be carried out from any internet-enabled PC, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nigel Ross, Training and Development Officer for Samaritans, explains: “We extensively researched the industry standard and chose the open source learning management system Moodle because we were impressed by the robust and continually evolving platform that it offers as well as its large user base, including the Open University, NHS and Cisco.” 

Moodle allows users to build and administer courses themselves and offers cost-savings on licence fees, which would have been payable for a proprietary software solution.

Nigel attended a two-day Course Creator workshop from specialist consultants HowToMoodle, which equipped him with the skills to initiate courses, upload existing content and design quizzes and wikis 

Nigel explains: “My technical skills are limited but HowToMoodle made the software very easy to use and I’m confident that I can design and administer the courses myself now, whilst tailoring them to Samaritans’ specific needs, which will be massively time saving.”

Initially the charity will be introducing Moodle elearning to around 2,000 trainees from its 201 branches, including trustees.

The Trustees Induction Course covers legal and compliance training such as risk management and by April 2009 will be the first course to be translated to the Moodle platform. 

Elearning will then be rolled out to cover specialist branch roles such as fundraising and publicity and will complement some essential face-to-face training.

Moodle will allow the charity to track users and enable the trainers to see which students are visiting the course and completing the assessments, to help boost completion rates.

Nigel’s role is to build and carry out administration for the courses online, and to promote Moodle to the charity’s 17,000 volunteers.

He says: “We plan to start slowly and make sure our version of Moodle is as user-friendly as possible for volunteers of all IT abilities.”

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