Something for nothing

E-learning budgets are nothing if not stretched. But you can stretch yours even further by taking advantage of some of the freebie e-learning offerings available on the web.

Expressions such as ‘nowt for nowt’ and ‘you get what you pay for’ exist for good reasons but, as we also know, there are exceptions to every rule. And the advent of the World Wide Web has put a wealth of free information within easy reach. While in many instances it is a case of sorting the wheat from the chaff, there is a lot of valuable stuff out there.

Learning and content providers are increasingly seeking to give potential learners a taster of their goods via free and demo courses. But it isn’t a totally charitable act, as it serves to raise brand and product awareness and, in some cases, allows providers to gather valuable contact details on prospective customers through an online registration process.

Budget courses

So what can you get for next to nothing when it comes to e-learning courses and online learning resources? We go surfing with a budget of £5.

Coping with Stress Discovering Balance and Time as a Resource
Provider: Skillsoft
Location: www.skillsoft.com/EMEA/demo.asp

Research by Skillsoft revealed that 95% of managers find work life stressful. It is doing its bit to improve the situation by offering these three stress management-related courses for free in the demonstration area of its site. The courses are three, four and two-and-a-half hours long respectively, so they are meaty enough, but don’t have to be completed in one session.

Skillsoft has also put its three free bullying-related courses produced earlier this year back on the site: Harassment at Work, Working with Aggressive People and Difficult People in the Workplace. Check out the section for more in the future. Courses can be launched directly from the above URL.

Radio Kineo
Provider: Kineo
Located at: www.kineo.co.uk/audio-downloads.html

This is the ultimate in bite-size audio. Kineo regularly records industry experts from the learning and corporate world and puts them on its website to be downloaded free onto your PC or MP3 player. You can currently hear e-learning guru Donald Clark – board director of the University for Industry (Ufi) – covering a range of topics, including State of the E-learning Nation, and Why Blog? You can also listen to Jim McLaughlin, head of learning for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, on how technology helps to embed learning into the organisation.

The Trustee Toolkit
Provider: The Pensions Regulator
Location: www.trusteetoolkit.com/arena/index.cfm

This is pretty specialist stuff, but although designed with pension trustees in mind, this free toolkit may be useful for pensions or payroll professionals in your organisation who need to understand the implications of the Pensions Act 2004. It’s largely based on case studies with the learning delivered using a variety of techniques, such as audio or video snippets, and self-assessment. Click through from the above link to sign up for the programme.

Publisher 1-on-1
Provider: Books24x7
Location: www.books24x7.com

Another free podcast series, this time showcasing some of the most influential publishers and thought leaders in the industry. Those taking part include David Berke from the Centre for Creative Leadership, who focuses on succession planning and Joe Wikert of John Wiley & Sons, who talks about straddling the print and digital worlds of books and blogs. You can also download previous podcasts, which include excerpts from ExecBlueprints and Books24x7’s 450-strong library of insights, trends and initiatives, written by leading business leaders.

Propel your Business with Web Collaboration, breakfast webinar
Provider: Webex
Location: www.webex.com/solutions/ec-resources.html

Given this takes place at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay in Redwood City, it will be more like a tea-time event for us. But don’t worry if you can’t watch it live, as Webex archives content on its site.

The company, which specialises in virtual meeting and classroom technology, has a dedicated section of free webinars by industry experts, which contains news of upcoming events and previous recordings. When we visited, these included Hitting a Moving Target Serving the Mobile Learner and Managing and Developing People to be their Best. You’ll need the Webex Event Manager plug-in to access the webinars. You will find instructions for setting up by clicking the ‘All you need to attend’ link at the bottom of each webinar’s description.

What every employer should know about the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
Provider: Echelon
Location: www.learningmatters.com

Just £2 will get you a five-page document which acts as a useful checklist to help employers and training managers meet the new age regulations.

While you are there, check out what else Learning Matters has to offer, which includes a host of bite-size, just-in-time learning modules, including 12 to 18-page essays by management gurus such as Peter Drucker and Charles Handy for £5, as well as Echelon-authored self-development modules, which are also a fiver.

Managing Absence
Provider: Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)
Location: www.acas.org.uk/elearning/fe/welcome.asp

With absence management high on many organisations’ agendas, this comprehensive and accessible e-learning course could be just the ticket for many managers.

The seven units that comprise the course include how to identify and measure patterns of absence how to handle both short and long-term absence and developing policy and procedures. There’s also a quiz for learners to test their knowledge, and there are useful downloadable pdfs in the resource section.

Other Acas courses include: informing and consulting discipline and grievance and bullying and harassment. Learners register and access the courses at the above URL.

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