Challenge Community Services – Rapid Shift to Online Learning During COVID

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Challenge Community Services is a not for profit organisation that provides disability support and foster care. With over 900 staff, the organisation has grown to be one of the largest community support services in New South Wales providing support to over 2500 people from Albury to Lismore, Sydney, Dubbo, Tamworth and beyond. 

The organisation faces a difficult training landscape with a mixture of permanent and part-time staff as well as a network of carers spread across the state of NSW. The carer network itself presents a unique training challenge. This group undergoes significant turnover and training must be delivered to an ever-changing group of learners.

The sensitive nature of the organisation’s work means that training is critical to ensuring its staff perform optimally and consistently and that both carers and those they care for receive the best support they possibly can. 

The Pre-Covid world

Before 2020, the Challenge Foster Care ran all it’s training sessions face-to-face. Given the geographic dispersion of caseworkers and carers, this led to substantial travel costs and significant time away from the desk while staff were getting to and from site visits.

As the COVID 19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, the organisation knew it needed to shift its face-to-face training onto an online alternative. It was legally and physically impossible for training sessions to be held face-to-face.

As the organisation started to look for solutions, one thing became quickly apparent. Any online training would need to be custom-built. The nature of the information that needed to be communicated meant that generic off the shelf training would not be fit for purpose.

Weighing up the options

With this prerequisite in mind, Challenge Foster Care started evaluating several learning platform providers. After considerable deliberation, Tribal Habits was elected over a conventional LMS provider for the following reasons

  • The feature set of competing LMSs was better suited to large enterprise-level organisations  
  • Tribal Habits was far more cost-effective than the other solutions investigated
  • LMS platforms required third-party content creation which came at a huge expense. Tribal Habits’ training creator function meant this cost would be avoidable with Tribal Habits 
  • Content libraries provided by LMS are not easily editable, and generic training would not be fit for Challenge Foster Care’s purpose
  • As a social enterprise, Challenge Foster Care commits to buying from Australian organisations when possible and unlike most LMSs Tribal Habits is 100% Australian owned

Getting it done

After selecting Tribal Habits, the team at Challenge Foster Care quickly got to work. The organisation had a vast catalogue of physical training resources that it needed to convert into online learning. There was also a desire to create entirely new training assets.

A team of two staff, with little experience in creating online learning, were able to transfer the existing training and create new online learning experiences under very tight timelines. This accomplishment was achieved through a lot of hard work and was supported by Tribal Habits training creation aids including: 

  • Following Tribal Habits’ in-built guided process that walks training creators through capturing and structuring ideas into interactive training modules. 
  • Using Sage – An AI-based training instructor that provides feedback throughout the training creation process.
  • Accessing free training reviews by Tribal Habits expert instructional designers
  • Using Tribal Habits templates to fast track training creation

“Creating training was a breeze; the drag and drop editor makes it so simple to develop online learning that’s engaging and interactive. I thought we’d need to learn to code to deliver training that’s as beautiful and functional as this.”

Bradley Burns | OOHC Aboriginal Program Coordinator | Community Challenge Services

The results

Feedback from both internal staff members and the carers that have accessed the new training has been resoundingly positive. Participants have found the new training:  

  • Is more engaging 
  • Requires a smaller time commitment from learners
  • Allows participants to access training on their own schedule 
  • Is far more contemporary than previous training, and is driving better results.

The always available nature of the online platform has also removed a friction point where people were forced to wait for minimum training group sizes before a session could be run. 

“We used to have people who’d be waiting six months for training. But now it’s available online at any time. There’s no need to wait for minimum class sizes or deal with scheduling nightmares. It’s all there at the click of a button.”

Bradley Burns | OOHC Aboriginal Program Coordinator | Community Challenge Services

Enormous cost savings

Challenge Foster Care’s move to online training has netted significant cost savings while improving the standard of training across the organisation. The organisation was able to cancel a previous subscription to a series of online training courses that were running up a bill of more than $50,000 a year. The savings accrued by reducing travel-related expenses dwarf this number.

“Removing travel from our training program has not only saved our organisation an untold amount of money, it’s reduced the amount of time our staff need to stay away from their desks and their families. We’re getting better results in half the time. The result of that is happier, more productive workers. It’s hard to put a dollar value on that.”

Bradley Burns | OOHC Aboriginal Program Coordinator | Community Challenge Services

Next steps 

Challenge Foster Care committed to developing a learning hub that will be powered by Tribal Habits. This hub will build on and further the training already provided to staff and will become the primary training contact point for the carer network.

“While it may have been COVID19 that forced us into online learning, there’s no way we’re going back. I think in the future, we’ll be delivering 95% of our training online and just 5% in person. We’re delighted with the platform and the results its provided us.”

Bradley Burns | OOHC Aboriginal Program Coordinator | Community Challenge Services

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