Extending learning using online technology to upskill in the workplace

Love, Kathleen, Tobin, Kieran, Barrett, Sharon and Kiely, Etain (2014) Extending learning using online technology to upskill in the workplace. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis surrounding in-employment education and training for the upskilling of the workforce. Online learning is becoming a dominant delivery method in workplace-learning settings across organizations of various sectors and of varying sizes. Its key advantage is its capability to enable employers to upskill their workforce by providing the flexibility for 'when, 'where' and 'how' employees can engage in lifelong learning. (David, et al., 2012). This study portrays the development of a suite of educational upskilling programmes delivered using blended learning to address the skill shortages of the biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland. Using Design Based Research (DBR) methodology, intensive collaboration occurred between the researcher, members of industry and the academic providers to develop four online industry-focused educational training programmes ranging from NFQ level 6 to level 9. These programmes are currently being offered by the academic providers and in use within the industry. A survey evaluation in relation to the programmes was completed by 75 students on completion of their first year on the programme. Results concluded that the programmes are increasing the capabilities of employees in the workplace and the flexibility of online learning is key to enabling them to complete the programmes. This paper provides an overview of the rationale for developing these programmes and the process of implementing them to students both nationally and internationally (Australia) with a summary of key findings and suggested developments to inform practice.

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