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Leonardo da Vinci PARTNERSHIPS

Project: Use of Rapid e-authoring tools to develop and support learning in small and micro enterprises

Coordinator: MRS Consultancy Ltd, UK

Partners:

  • Institutul de Formare Economica si Sociala, Romania
  • CRP, France
  • Multimedia City, Poland
  • Association for European Partnership /AEP/, Bulgaria

     Workers in SMEs especially small and micro firms face particular difficulties when it comes to learning in the workplace and acquiring new knowledge, skills and competencies. The communication from the European Commission – Action Plan on Adult Learning – 2007, indicated that one solution to overcoming the multi-dimensional barriers to participation was to bring learning closer to learners in their workplace. It also stated that this could be achieved through a variety of measures including workplace learning and e-learning. There is a very limited amount of literature concerning e-learning in smaller businesses. This dearth of information was noted by the authors of the European Commission’s report “e-learning in Continuing Vocational Training” March 2005. The latest report in the UK, sponsored by Becta and published on 28th January 2009, on the use of learning technologies in the workplace, once again has 75% of participating companies with over 250 employees and 62% with over 1000 employees. It is therefore imperative that solutions are found and disseminated that are applicable to small and micro companies in order to assist individuals working in them to utilise e-learning and improve their skills.

There are many reasons why small businesses do not ready utilise e-learning or to any great extent:

  • Its cost – many ready-made e-learning products are expensive;
  • Many ready-made products are developed with large companies in mind and do not have the small business focus;
  • Small and micro-businesses need “just-in-time” learning to meet an immediate business-critical need and usually, e-learning materials have taken time to develop with collaboration between the developer, the business and subject matter experts.

The use of Rapid e-authoring tools, offer a much cheaper alternative, can provide bite-sized modules of learning within a matter of hours or days and are much more intuitive to use compared with previous authoring tools.

However, the use of these tools has not been extensively taken up by small and micro firms nor by VET providers working with these companies.

Stage 1a) This partnership will look to investigate the availability of rapid e-authoring tools for all language groups in the partnership, cultural backgrounds to use and IT infrastructure issues.

Stage 1b) Partners will familiarise themselves with the tools considered to be most appropriate and partners already familiar with their use will support those not so familiar.

Stage 2. Will be to develop guidelines for use by both target groups – development by small and micro firms themselves (where appropriate given the culture and ICT infrastructure) and by vocational educational training providers working with small and micro businesses in all countries of the partnership. It is most important that rapidly developed bad e-learning in not the result so this stage is critical in ensuring that there is a quality development process in place.

It is anticipated that at least part of these guidelines will be constructed using rapid e-authoring tools themselves and will be essentially e-learning materials.

Stage 3. Each partner will then produce a least two Case Studies in the use of rapid-authoring tools with small and micro companies in their Member State which will support the guidelines developed. This stage of activities will involve the participation of a range of different target groups including of course, employers and employees in small and micro companies who will be the learners.

Evaluation activities will take place at all stages of the proposed activities and the feedback from learners as well as from employers and the VET organisations will be critical to the continuous improvement of the final guidelines.

Stage 4. Although dissemination will take place in stages 1 -3, there will be widespread dissemination of the actual guidelines and supporting case studies / resources developed both nationally and pan-EU in this stage.

The partnership will promote the use of Rapid e-authoring tools in Small and Micro businesses to bring effective e-learning to disadvantaged individuals working in these companies. Currently, use of rapid e-authoring software is dominated by large companies employing over 1000 employees and there is only sporadic evidence of e-learning in micro businesses.

The partnership will research Rapid e-authoring software for use in the six Member States, produce and test development guidelines for their use within the target companies both by the organisations themselves developing e-learning resources and VET providers working with them learning for individuals that meets both their needs and those of the small and micro business. The testing will involve consultation and development of resources with potential end-users and thereby provide supporting case studies.

 

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