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Case Study: Tuning into e-learning

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Keyboard

Cable operator ntl required an e-learning solution that was simple to use, complementary to their traditional e-learning and classroom based training and fit with their existing learning management system here’s what they did.


ntl is the UK and Ireland’s largest cable operator and a leading provider of broadband and communications services. Today ntl has more than three million telephone, TV and internet customers, a third of whom are broadband subscribers.

The objective
E-learning is a vital part of ntl’s strategy. The communications sector moves very fast so it is important to respond rapidly to the changes in the market to stay competitive. With a vast, multi-sited sales team as well as field engineers spread around the country it can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to keep staff fully informed on the latest products and company developments.

In 2004, ntl therefore set out to extend its e-learning strategy to include rapid content delivery and started to look for a suitable technology to support this approach.

It wanted to connect subject matter experts to learners to reinforce learning without extra overhead, as well as provide non-technical users with the necessary tools to devolve the e-learning development process beyond the e-learning team and eliminate bottlenecks. As part of this strategy, ntl’s Learning & Development Team needed a centrally located virtual meeting place for nationwide training.

Challenges
The Learning and Development (L&D) Group are responsible for responding to demand for e-learning materials from the rest of the organisation. They were challenged with providing rapid e-learning with easy dissemination of training being one of their biggest obstacles. They needed to promote a virtual meeting place that would make training more accessible without the continual need for travel up and down the country.

The level of internal demand for training was so high they needed a solution that could devolve the training responsibility to project members. This would then ease the rapid dissemination of information across the business. As these teams were not always technical groups, the chosen solution needed to be easy to use.

In addition, any solution implemented would have to be flexible enough not to leave an imprint on the local desktop estate. Technical compatibility being key.

The e-learning solution also had to be cost effective. As David Perring, ntl’s Head of Blended Learning, said: “It’s a matter of survival to be able to train people cost effectively, efficiently and quickly – we are constantly looking for ways to do more with less.“

ntl needed a solution that would complement their traditional e-learning and classroom based training and fit with their existing Learning Management System from Sum Total Systems.

The solution
The organisaton reviewed most of the rapid development products currently available on the e-learning market. Macromedia Breeze was selected for its flexibility, ease of use and because it allowed non-technical subject matter experts to rapidly develop and deliver content. At the time, Breeze could be implemented company wide without the need to upgrade existing desktops, which considering the number of staff would otherwise have been extremely expensive.

David Perring commented, “Breeze adds an exciting dimension to training. It enriches the training experience, promoting alternative methods for coaching, self and group study, which forms the basis of our transition from e-learning to blended learning. With limited resource Breeze allows us to improve the level of service to our peers without eroding their high expectations. We now have an efficient training model to quickly deliver compelling, flexible, and cost effective training that would otherwise have taken weeks to create and deliver.“

ntl creates Breeze e-learning content and publishes it to train various audiences across the business. When ntl recently increased it’s standard broadband speeds associates were briefed using self paced Breeze presentations. In the future ntl plans to use Breeze presentation more extensively to disseminate product updates.

ntl already use Macromedia Captivate to create demonstrations and simulations of internal systems as self-paced training materials. For example, solutions such as PeopleSoft manager & employee self service, finance processes, project databases and ntl’s Learning Management System.

In the future, ntl plans to integrate both these solutions to create a more complete learning experience.

One of the key benefits of Breeze is it simultaneously delivers live training to large numbers of dispersed virtual teams across the country. Having to run weekly and fortnightly training courses throughout the UK became expensive. Downtime costs were high, not to mention travel costs and the time lost during the training.

Breeze delivers significant savings, allowing ntl to now reduce these costs by up to 75%. Rather than a trainer having to visit five different sites to deliver the same training programme, they can present the course once leaving trainees to access the content at their own convenience, directly from their PCs.

With a limited number of Health and Safety Officers, ntl is using Breeze Presentation to extend the reach of health and safety training. Used in combination with reference materials and face to face training, Breeze helps the delivery of essential learning on topics such as occupational health awareness for new starters in direct sales and concessions.

In the future ntl is planning to develop a suite of H&S resources on CD-ROM that field associates can review H&S best practice using video presentations captured in Breeze Presentation. This would be a supplementary resource to compliment previous face to face instruction. ntl associates can refer back to these presentations at any time they need to check on specific sections of the course.

“The response to Breeze has been extremely positive” remarks Guy Wilkins, Blended Learning Consultant at ntl. “The benefits are clear. Where I have promoted the solution into the business, you can visibly see the excitement in people’s expression as they realise the possibilities open before them.”

As well as using Breeze to handle some of the more regular training initiatives including health and safety training, ntl is increasingly finding new and innovative ways to solve traditional e-learning, training and customer management challenges across the business.

Guy Wilkins commented: “We look forward to doing even more with Breeze. The combination of both Presentation and Live products provides our author community greater choice and flexibility in how they choose to deliver their message. Costs are reduced. Outputs are timely & effective. The overall speed of production allows ntl’s authors to meet the demands of its ever changing business environments.”

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Annie Hayes

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