sub-menus. ‘Get the Facts’ contains all the subject matter and is delivered in different interactive ways where the learner doesn’t just read information; they have to interact with the content. ‘Take Control’ allows the learner to do just that. Through thought-provoking
scenarios, learners make decisions that simulate real-life situations in which cabin crew must react quickly, putting the learner in the driving seat. Video was used extensively to make the scenarios real and rather than using actors, they used BA trainers. This had a number of benefits: team buy-in and commitment to the project, the subject matter was conveyed correctly and it saved on cost. It also meant that when the learners attended the face to face training, they recognised the trainers because they had seen them in the videos. While not compulsory, ‘Find out More’ contains quizzes that lighten the load
and add fun. There are different types of games such as crosswords, beat the clock and another called Medical Meltdown. The latter is based on a game show format, only in this case it’s a ‘Wheel of Misfortune’. The last section is ‘Validation’. This is absolutely necessary, but even this has
been shown to be interesting and engaging as learners often go through it more than once to achieve scores of 100%. New recruits have to go through all the knowledge elements of the modules before they can take the validation. However, existing crew members who are doing their annual refresher course can access the validation directly. Validation certificates can be printed off; new recruits take these to their face-to-face training and existing staff present them to their line managers. New recruits are re-tested on the first day of their face-to-face training and if they don’t pass then the onus is on them to revisit the e-learning course and improve their knowledge.
An unexpected test The programme, due for launch in late 2009, was initially intended for all new crew and a refresher for revalidation of existing staff. However, two factors intervened. First, worsening economic conditions led to a recruitment freeze. Secondly, cabin crew threatened strike action for early 2010. To ensure that planes still flew and customers reached their destinations, the business had just weeks to train a stop-gap voluntary team of cabin crew using existing staff members. This involved recruiting over 2,000 volunteers from other parts of the airline – procurement, sales, finance and engineering – most of whom had never previously been cabin crew. All volunteers completed a condensed induction, with AvMed as a vital pre-classroom component. Using AvMed as part of the assessment process enabled BA to train this volunteer group quickly, ensuring that 50% of long haul and 60% of short haul flights took off during the first wave of strike action. This subsequently rose to 80% for long haul and even higher for short haul. Without the e-learning programme, these figures would have been substantially lower.
Did it make a difference?
The effectiveness of training was assessed in June/July 2010 as part of a full evaluation of the volunteer cabin crew programme. The results were pretty impressive. A key objective was to ensure that the voluntary cabin crew could deliver aviation medicine on a par with full-time cabin crew. The volunteers were extremely successful in passing their assessment and getting in the air. In terms of retained knowledge, they said their knowledge level before taking the AvMed course scored an average 3.5 out of 10 compared to 9.0 out of 10 in the 3-6 months after they completed it. One of the original business objectives was to get new recruits productive more quickly, thereby reducing training costs without compromising their ability to deliver aviation medicine. BA originally calculated on a cost to competence basis that it would realise £1.1m in cost savings over three years compared to delivering the previous classroom-only programme. However, BA has already
june 2011 e.learning age
How to make mandatory training interesting and engaging
• Have an interesting theme that links the training to the business.
• Include video of real people to bring scenarios to life. If you can use your own trainers in the videos even better!
themselves look slightly different to each other.
• Allow learners to take control. Since learning from mistakes is very powerful, use branching scenarios where learners can see the
• New recruits are usually very enthusiastic learners; take advantage of the time between recruitment and officially joining the company to best effect. It
consequences of their decisions.
• Interactivity is great, but only when it’s interesting, so use different types of activities so learners don’t get bored.
also makes your new recruits feel valued.
• Quizzes can really help reinforcement of learning, but don’t just make them all multiple choice tests as that can get so boring. Add crosswords,
anagrams – even take inspiration from game shows.
made these cost savings. The March 2010 strike action resulted in BA losing £7m every day, and this would have been much more if the training of the volunteer crew had not been hastened by the e-learning, so that over 50% of flights were able to take off.
A senior BA manager said: “From a manager’s perspective it transferred one day of learning into the home environment and shortened the medical phase by a day, a considerable cost saving. Transference of knowledge was also perceptibly better.”
Can mandatory training ever be fun? Apparently it can. An evaluation of the learning experience demonstrated that most volunteer cabin crew members thoroughly approved the new blend:
• 96% found it enjoyable
Not only did learners complete optional quizzes, they enjoyed them. How many points they had managed to score on ‘Medical Meltdown’ was often a topic of discussion when they attended the face-to-face training. The training wasn’t originally designed for pilots, but as a result of phone calls from pilots asking for access to the e-learning, it has been rolled out to them. One comment about AVMed is pretty typical: ‘It was intense and contained a lot
• 95% found it was delivered effectively • 96% found it memorable.
of information that we had to learn and put into practice in a short amount of time... I thoroughly enjoyed the training and felt confident that I’d be able to apply what I learned in a medical emergency on board.’ BA is delighted with the success of the programme. The team that designed the course found ingenious techniques to bring compliance training to life (see box for the lessons learned). The content is vibrant, uses a good mix of multimedia and has a sense of humour.
Lesley Price is head of community development at Towards Maturity
• Use colour effectively to keep the pages eye-catching and, while keeping the overall look and feel the same to give continuity, make the pages
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