In the summer of 2015, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had just become the longest reigning monarch after spending more than 63 years on the throne, Adele’s “Hello” had just spent its eighteenth week in the top 40 chart and the dinosaurs were making a comeback in the first of the new blockbuster Jurassic World films. It was also the summer where an idea started to form about the need to better improve the access to digital education and training resources for the health and care workforce and to provide an ability for the user community to share and contribute their own learning resources and foster relationship building through communities of practice: A Learning Solution.
While it had long been recognised that learner behaviour was changing through the widespread use of mobile devices and the need for more rapid access to just-in-time learning, we wanted to check that there was a desire in the community for such a learning solution. Several stakeholder engagement and research events were held where health and care students, workplace learners, NHS training managers, higher education teams and other stakeholders were invited to discuss and comment on the proposal. This initial user research was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, with users indicating that such a digital tool was not only required but essential to their continuous professional development.
From these initial ideas and discussions, the Health Education England (HEE) Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team embarked on a more formal exploration process to understand the key priorities that such a learning platform would need to deliver and the scale of the development. Any development of this potential size and cost is required to follow the Cabinet Office Government Digital Service (GDS) principles to ensure that the development not only meets user needs, but also delivers significant benefit compared to existing solutions and delivers value for money for UK taxpayers. The initial stage of the GDS process is to undertake a Discovery exercise with stakeholders on the basis that if the solution isn’t right, then the development can be quickly halted.
For the Discovery work, HEE partnered with Reading Room, a research agency who were skilled in assessing the actual needs of learners and looking at the viability of building digital solutions. Reading Room worked with us to interview healthcare learners on a 1:1 basis, run online user surveys and forums and assess the current provision of NHS training and the healthcare education landscape.
The Discovery process took several months as we were keen to ensure a good spread of users were involved, ranging from medical staff, nursing staff and allied health professionals to support and administrative workers and learning and development teams. From these interviews and surveys, the key findings were:
- Learners want and need to share TEL resources and ideas – using social media platforms and groups as well as through dedicated online sharing platforms
- Learners want access to dedicated online communities of practice
- The need for a centralised digital service for sharing TEL resources
- The need for a centralised Learning Management System for accessing TEL resources and learning records
- The need for there to be greater interoperability between education systems in healthcare.
Following the Discovery process, it was clear that learners needed a solution to improve their access to education and training in the NHS and the learning solution was a potential answer to address this need.
The next phase of the development was to seek approval to move to an Alpha development where a small-scale prototype is developed.
For more information about the Learning Solution visit www.hee.nhs.uk/tel and follow us on Twitter: @HEE_TEL.