Training Matters

 

Vol. 9, No. 2 • February 2008

Special Issue: Online Learning

Although the child welfare training system in North Carolina is extensive, the NC Division of Social Services and the members of its Family Support and Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership are always interested in making training more accessible, effective, and cost-efficient, both for the state and for county agencies. For this reason, North Carolina has begun to venture into e-learning.

E-learning, or the delivery of education using the Internet and other distance technologies, is an increasingly popular approach that offers many benefits to learners and their organizations.

On the Rise
E-learning is on the rise in North Carolina. Between 1999 and 2003 the number of web-based courses offered by the North Carolina Community College system increased from approximately 9,500 to over 83,000. According to John Bailey, Director, Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, “Distance education is both a sign of the times and a harbinger of the future delivery of education services” (Parker, et al. 2004). Indications are that the quality of e-learning courses is high and will continue to improve. A survey of college administrators (including presidents and chief academic officers) indicated that one-third of the roughly 1,000 survey respondents expect the quality of online courses at their institutions to surpass that of in-class courses within three years. Fifty-seven percent said the quality of web-based classes already rivals that of in-class teaching (Parker, et al. 2004). Experts also expect a growth in blended e-learning models that involve a combination of classroom time and various technologies (e.g., web sites, discussion boards, listservs, teleconferencing, and video conferencing) (Welsh, et al. 2003).

Benefits
E-learning offers the potential for reducing classroom time, travel time, and travel costs: these are variable costs typically borne by local agencies. In fact, most of the cost benefits of e-learning accrue to learners’ organizations, not the training organization (Rosenberg, 2001). Cost savings are further multiplied by the number of learners served, the extent to which learners are geographically dispersed, and the number of training events they attend (Welsh, et al. 2003).

This issue of Training Matters will give you some key details about the
e-learning that is currently available to North Carolina’s child welfare staff and how to make the most of these learning opportunities.

NC’s E-Learning Offerings for Child Welfare Staff
  • Child Development in Families at Risk. Fully online course.
    (12 credit hrs.)

  • Child Welfare in North Carolina: Pre-Service Curriculum for
    New Workers and Supervisors
    . Blended course. (72 credit hrs.)

  • Supervisors Strengthening Staff Performance: Managing Transfer of Learning in the Work Place. Blended course. (30 credit hrs.)

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2008 Jordan Institute for Families