2010 Excellence in E-Learning

GOLD: Enspire Learning

Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (PRI) wanted to provide a soft skills training program for the physicians it insures. Along with state-mandated requirements for risk management training, the program could help improve physician-patient relationships and limit the damaging effects of malpractice lawsuits. PRI partnered with Enspire Learning to create an interactive multimedia course to help physicians learn and practice communication skills.

The course uses custom photography, narration and background details to simulate challenging discussions with patients. Participants can choose how to respond to patients’ questions and situations, and each response branches into another interaction based on the previous choice. The simulation can result in either a successful encounter with high patient satisfaction or a medical error with huge ramifications. The program creates realistic mood fluctuations and changes in body language, facial expressions and conversational tone to simulate a real patient-doctor interaction.

To evaluate performance during the simulation, there is a conversation meter that will stay green if all is well and turn to yellow and then red if there is trouble. Afterward, participants can review an evaluation of their choices based on critical points in the conversation, including tips on how to improve. The scenarios include difficult patients, delivering bad news, managing medical error and developing rapport. The program also allows participants to select their specialty and identify specific issues that need attention.

After the course, 99 percent of participants found the online design easy to follow, and 94 percent said the program was useful in enhancing their communication skills. Users lauded the program for its realistic situations and relevance to their practice.

SILVER: Vivid Learning Systems

When natural disasters strike and restoration of electrical power is a pressing goal, the U.S. Department of Energy’s ESF-12 responders are the ones on the scene. They helped restore power after the Haiti earthquake and after the tsunami in American Samoa.

In order to prepare rescue workers for their hectic and potentially life-saving roles, ESF-12 responders traditionally flew from 14 offices across the country to a single location. There they underwent a simulated disaster response, which is a critical part of training, but was also costly and inconvenient to administer.

ESF-12 wanted to decrease costs and utilize new technology to improve the program. Vivid Learning Systems provided ESF-12 with an online training program that delivered the same information with interactive and multimedia components, including the simulation. First, participants were given background information via interactive learning models. Afterward, they applied their training in an online classroom exercise that simulates a disaster. They were given a briefing, simulated newscast and notes from senior staff regarding the nature of the situation. The simulations were synchronized with other online classrooms so participants could accomplish their goals in the face of changing information and conditions as a team.

This online synchronized training activity was met with enthusiasm from participants and saved the ESF-12 team $20,000 on travel expenses.

BRONZE: Rosetta Stone

Thomson Reuters is a large business and professional information company employing 50,000 people across some 100 countries. With this diversity of office locations, the company knew it had to make language learning a priority. However, its use of face-to-face language tutorial sessions was not efficient. Thomson Reuters teamed up with Rosetta Stone, an interactive language learning company, to offer classes in 29 languages to its employees around the globe. The program includes a manager tool that can track learner progress, refine course content to support business needs and compare results between individuals and departments. Since the announcement in February 2009, there have been more than 12,000 registrations to learn a language.