Training Matters

 

Vol. 9, No. 2 • February 2008

Blended Pre-Service Training

by Ginger Caldwell, Program Consultant/Trainer, NC Division of Social Services

Pre-Service training—its formal title is Child Welfare in North Carolina— is a mandatory course that has been preparing line workers and supervisors for child welfare work in North Carolina since 1998.

Prior to September 2007, Pre-Service was a 12-day, face-to-face classroom course. Now Pre-Service is a “blended” course. This means face-to-face classroom experiences are combined with online learning experiences. Blended Pre-Service integrates 11 face-to-face classroom days with approximately 6 hours of online content delivered through self-paced online modules and live online experiences.

Blended Pre-Service is the result of collaboration between the NC Division of Social Services and the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.

Why Create a Blended Pre-Service?
Several factors contributed to the decision to provide Pre-Service in a blended format. First, one of the objectives of the NC Statewide Training Partnership for 2005-2010 is to “incorporate technology and e-learning into the learning system.” Second, some managers and county DSS directors expressed an interest in alternatives to the traditional format of Pre-Service, especially those that would save travel expenses and allow new staff to spend more time in the agency. Through the blended approach, county DSS staff can participate in a portion of Pre-Service training using a computer in their local agency.

Other ways county DSS staff benefit from the blended Pre-Service training include: increased flexibility regarding when they take the self-paced online portions of Pre-Service, the option of reviewing the online content at any point (even after the course has ended), and exposure to a variety of instructional approaches designed to meet the individualized learning needs of participants.

Is the Content the Same?
Yes. The blended Pre-Service training continues to focus on current North Carolina child welfare policy and practice issues. Topics that were formerly discussed in the classroom but are now explored online include the structure of North Carolina’s child welfare system, policy and practice resources located on the Division’s website, and the role of collaboration in child welfare work in our state.

Is the Blended Pre-Service Working?
The training is going smoothly, thanks to the collaborative efforts of county DSS information technology (IT) staff, supervisors of Pre-Service training participants, ncswLearn.org website administrative staff, and trainers from the Division’s Staff Development Team.

County IT staff members play a key role by making sure Pre-Service participants’ computers have what they need to access the online portions of the training. Supervisors help ensure workers have “protected time” and support for participating in online coursework. Website staff and NCDSS trainers are available to answer questions about accessing and participating in the online portion of Pre-Service.

Is this Course Being Evaluated?
Yes. We want to make Pre-Service training the best it can be.

After the blended Pre-Service was piloted in April 2007, the course was revised to incorporate feedback from pilot participants. Today the Division continues to gather feedback and suggestions through classroom Participant Satisfaction Forms (PSFs), surveys, and focus groups. This information will be reviewed and incorporated in future revisions.

How Do I Register?
For course times or to register for Child Welfare in North Carolina please visit www.ncswLearn.org.

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2008 Jordan Institute for Families