Interview with Edouard SABATIER, Training Manager at the CRAFEP, member of the Institut National de la Formation du Recouvrement (I.N.F.R.), an agency which provides training for those collection social security contributions.
INTRODUCTION | Can you tell us a few words about your organisation and what your role is?
We are one of the 14 training centres in France that belong to Social Security. We work in all the system's areas of activity, such as illness, retirement, family and collecting contributions. We specialise in training URSSAF inspectors and controllers, and we have to deploy office application training courses that can be delivered by distance learning. Therefore my role involves managing the deployment of training courses for inspectors and controllers.
BACKGROUND | What is the background of the e-learning project you set up with MEDIAplus eLearning? What were the challenges and what issues did you encounter?
The initial training curriculum for student inspectors and controllers requires a training programme that can be adapted according to each trainee's initial level of ability. In addition, to restrict travel expenses as far as possible, students had to be able not only to test their knowledge but also have access to a personalised training programme that recorded their progress and could be delivered on their premises without the assistance of a trainer. In this respect the e-learning project was especially suitable.
STAGES | What were the stages of this project?
Procurement procedures had to be followed when setting up this system, so we first had to select the service providers. We then had to define the minimum teaching content that we wanted to cover in the various modules. This is a complex task where you have to dissect Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lotus Notes or Windows in order to define the minimum skills that need to be acquired. Finally, only 4 training centres teach this curriculum in France and we had to manage a harmonised process across the whole of France, taking account of customers' issues (different software versions, limited Internet access, reviewing network cabling, students being able to work from home etc.).
SYSTEM | What system have you put in place? What type of learner support did you choose and why?
The system we chose involves the trainees sitting office application tests from the outset, with a variety of personalised training programmes over a period of 3 years for the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lotus Notes and Windows modules. The pupil has no dedicated coach when they are studying the distance learning courses, but the skills acquired are reused at the training centre during sessions which relate to their job.
TOOL | What did you like most about MEDIAplus eLearning? What were your selection criteria?
This type of training has several advantages.
On the one hand, being able to follow a training course from any location in the country, as long as the student is equipped with a PC configured with a few plugins. On the other hand, if their computer does not have the right version of the product installed or has a different configuration (Mac), students can still follow the training course by connecting to a dedicated server. Finally, being able to build a training programme that takes account of the tests the student has taken, with the option for them to access the training site according to their availability and even for a period of 3 years following the end of the course, is an undeniable advantage.
ASSESSMENT | What is your assessment of the system? Are you satisfied with it? How have users reacted?
The system is very satisfactory in terms of identifying the knowledge to be acquired and developing standard office application software skills. Putting this into practice on the job requires an additional physical presence. Users who improve their office application skills soon ask for an advisor to be present to help them solve their practical problems. We have a positive opinion of the system to date.
KEY SUCCESS FACTORS | Finally, what advice would you give to training managers who want to change over to the e-learning method? What are the pitfalls to avoid and what are the key success factors?
First of all, trainees are not all receptive to distance learning. Therefore you have to make a careful study of the population who will be able to follow a training course in complete autonomy using a personal computer. You also have to check that your computers and network cabling are sufficiently compatible with the chosen products to be able to use them. Take the time to choose the exact content of the training modules (?You need Excel but do you need charts??) to ensure that they are relevant to the skills required by the job in question. Finally, make provision for additional trainer support based on specific exercises which reproduce work situations specific to the student's future job.