In 2010 the UK government indentified that local councils and public sector departments were frequently purchasing separate software systems, e-learning platforms, and e-learning content from third-party providers, leading to duplication and financial waste.
To address this issue and reduce costs, the government tasked Essex County Council with procuring a central service for delivering learning and courses that could be shared between multiple local authorities and government departments.
Creative Learning Systems (CLS) was picked from 98 comparative tenders, including Learning Pool, Learning Nexus and Pearson Education, to do this work and began in the latter part of 2011.
CLS was required to provide a secure and distributed learning management system and course authoring solutions for over 50 government departments and their thousands of staff under the Vine Network and to meet the following objectives:
- Enable councils and authorities to share systems and courses by purchasing together
Make all data within the new system exportable in a format that open standards systems can read in the future
- Allow each council, division, department, or authority to retain its own identity and branding within the new online learning world, with user records stored in separate, secure databases
- Control costs in line with actual costs, including inflation
- Migrate existing system data into the new system as part of the project
- Provide training to ensure the new solution is adopted and embedded
- Shared course library, catalogue and associated learning materials
- Video tool access to minimise the need for face-to-face training
- Reauthored courses to replace antiquated material built with outgoing suppliers
- Dynanmic systems to deliver tailored learning courses based on each staff member’s job role, progress, and outcomes.
- Integrating existing systems, communicating with third-party systems to share data, and migrating data from learning management systems with little or no export function.
The network facilitates the communication and the sharing of best practices among staff across multiple government departments. It enabled councils and authorities to jointly author and share courses in a central learning library.
Courses were redesigned to be more efficient and save time spent searching for information, and a dynamic tool was implemented to deliver tailored learning courses based on each staff member’s job role, progress, and outcomes. Automatic reports to management detailing strengths and opportunities for improvement were also included.
CLS developed private and secure learning platforms for each council involved, integrating existing systems, communicating with third-party systems to share data, and migrating data from learning management systems with little or no export function. CLS also worked with companies that had developed e-learning materials to ensure future compatibility and software efficiencies.
CLS built bespoke tools to report, automate, and generate efficient systems that enhanced the learning experience and adopted new and emerging technologies as they appeared in the learning market.
One of the biggest challenges at the start of the project was writing an export function to retrieve data from the outgoing providers. Some of these companies were not happy that their lucrative contracts were coming to an end and could be uncooperative in providing data from their systems.
The new tools enabled councils and authorities to communicate with each other about their learning objectives and needs and jointly author and share courses in a centralized learning library. The solution also facilitated communication and the sharing of best practices among staff across multiple unconnected government departments.
CLS was given a 10-year extension to continue delivering the project in 2012.
The Vine Network has been highly successful, with estimates showing that it saved the government over £13 million in the first two years of operation. CLS estimates that the government will have saved over £50 million by 2022 in ongoing running costs.
Thousands of learners have accessed the system and courses, and some councils have even generated additional revenue by selling access to courses and accepting payment online.
CLS is proud of the accomplishments of the Vine Network and its positive impact on financial savings, the way local councils and governments work together, and the improved working relationships.
In particular, we highlight the innovative leadership of Maxine, Janet, Allison, Tina, Dawn and Gillian from Vine, as they worked with Kelly, Julia, Max, Tamsyn, Kimberley, Hal and Matt at CLS to deliver a fantastic project in partnership.
CLS is proud of this project and the accomplishments of the Vine Network and its positive impact on financial savings, the way local councils and governments work together, and the improved working relationships.
The Vine Network remains efficient, innovative and in operation today.