Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moodle use in NZ Government (Austen Sinclair)

Coat of Arms of New Zealand (1956-Present) * T...Image via Wikipedia
Austen Sinclair talked frankly about using Moodle in the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) of the NZ government. The IT department insists they use off-the-shelf products, reduce diversity in IT systems, fully leverage investment in SAP products for finance, payroll and HR information - which makes the use of Moodle problematic.

In the government each business area produce their own training products. There is also an issue of inertia whereby communities within various business areas could deploy their own LMSs etc, but choose not to as they are comfortable with the situation as it currently stands.

Austen described a number of successes with training around products such as Kiwisaver, and health and safety. Traditionally a health and safety officer had to take between 2 hours to a whole day to complete training. With the alternative LMS solution people could choose when, where and how to train, which proved very popular.

Agencies need an LMS to host courses in a simple and coherent way, but wish to buy "elaborate tools to provide metrics on improvements in capability without any of the necessary building blocks for this". Sinclair suggests that a 'successful' LMS needs to be owned by someone that 'cares', whether this be a person, team, or business unit. Furthermore, the LMS design needs to be inclusive,  critically adaptive to business usage, and supported in a manner that suits people who offer the training.

Interestingly, Austen emphasised the issue of motivation - the fact that people cannot be made to learn, and to encourage people to visit a learning environment it has to be user-centric. The LMS also has to have a life of its own (in a manner a little bit like Facebook) so that there is a reason to visit the site regularly.

The presentation gave an interesting insight into training and professional development that harnesses some of the functionality of an LMS to offer flexible professional development. It was heartening to see examples of design for social learning, learner-centred environments, and related aspects of motivation.

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