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Lewisham Homes move online with Totara Learn to deliver blended learning programmes

Lewisham Homes is an ambitious organisation set up in 2007 to improve housing in London’s third-largest borough. The non-profit organisation operates its own maintenance company, has recently begun to build new properties and manages over 18,000 homes on behalf of Lewisham Council. 

The Organisational Development (OD) team is responsible for all of Lewisham Homes’ learning and development activities including leadership programmes, managing external training and suppliers, evaluation, reviews and performance appraisals. Following an organisational restructure in 2013, the OD team reviewed its approach and recognised that some processes could be streamlined.

The Challenge

The existing approach to learning and development involved using arrange of spreadsheets to keep track of training information.

With a wider organisational focus on increasing efficiency, we believed that we could to get all our operations into one place and create an approach that was more efficient but also more robust.  

– Marco Giacomini, Training Manager

Compliance training is a key requirement for all at Lewisham Homes, especially when it comes to field staff. Classroom training is not ideal for the large groups of caretakers and repairs staff who need to be operating every day at properties around the borough. To add a level of flexibility and increase efficiencies, the OD team began exploring e-learning as an alternative to face to face sessions.

However, many of Lewisham Homes’ field-based staff aren’t regular computer users and are less accustomed to technology than office-based staff. This meant that from the outset there were concerns about whether the field-based audience would get on board with the new system.

The Solution

Following a project specification, Lewisham Homes decided to add compliance-based e-learning to its training offering. A learning management system (LMS) was needed to provide a platform for the online content and to help the OD team to streamline its processes. This would get rid of the need for multiple spreadsheets and centralise all data, reporting and administration.

A formal procurement panel chose to go with a Totara Learn provided by Mind Click* as the solution. The platform enabled Lewisham Homes to rebrand their training as ‘My Learning’ with a strong look and feel that reflected the organisation’s own style. After the initial configuration, Totara was launched in April 2014 to 500 members of staff.

Totara Learn is a useful system for both learners and administration. It has been great working with Mind Click and being able to rely on them for support and assistance. They’re really helpful and always reply to my queries within a timely manner.

– Casey Ovonji, OD Administrator

A range of off the shelf e-learning was used as the core compliance training to sit on the LMS. Topics include health and safety, data protection, equality and diversity, as well as soft skills training such as time management. All face to face training is managed through Totara Learn, from external courses to internal lunch and learn sessions.

The Results

A new customer care programme at Lewisham Homes helped to get learners engaged with the LMS. The programme was made up of face to face training sessions and everything was booked using My Learning. Since then, aspects of the induction process have now been moved on to My Learning, allowing new members of staff to become familiar with the system straight away.

One of the things that interested me the most about Totara Learn is the ability to create blended programmes with interesting resources like video clips. In addition to introducing this approach to our induction, we are now rolling this out to other areas such as our internal mentoring programme.

– Marco Giacomini

One of the main advantages of the new platform is the ability for staff to access it remotely on their own mobile devices. They can now book classroom courses, put in training requests and manage their learning portfolios wherever they’re located. Totara has enhanced the organising of training, and provides an instant view for the OD team to oversee training administration, for managers and supervisors to look at their teams training requirements, and for staff to understand what training they need to personally complete. Just by streamlining their processes, the OD team has saved significant amounts of time and money.

The Future

The OD team is looking forward to taking the next development steps with the system. ‘E-learning was a new initiative for us, so we know we have only really scratched the surface of Totara’s capability so far.’ comments Giacomini.

With a Totara upgrade due soon, the team is most looking forward to exploring the performance management functionality and potentially moving their appraisals system from a paper-based approach to the LMS. There are also plans to create an expanded resources library which will include videos and downloads, as well as existing resources from the intranet.

‘The vision is for My Learning to be the go-to place for all learning references and resources. We want to continue to build people’s engagement and making sure that everything is on there and easily accessible is a big part of that.’ – Casey Ovonji

*Mind Click has since been acquired by Learning Pool.