UW News

February 15, 2007

E-learning classes now available free for UW staffers

UW News

It’s not news that SkillSoft e-Learning classes are available to UW staff members. That wide range of online professional development courses has been available for about three years.

But the fact that the classes are now provided to staff at no cost? OK — that’s news.

It used to cost employees about $100 for a subscription enabling them to shop from among the 1,000 or so classes available through e-learning.

But courtesy of the Leadership, Communities, and Values Initiative, a campuswide license has been purchased from SkillSoft, providing access for 10,000 employees to take the classes at no charge.

“There’s nothing you’re going to pay for,” said Susan Aaron Moller, curriculum and training manager for the Professional & Organizational Development Office, which offers the program. “We like to say that it’s not so much free as provided at no cost to you.”

Moller said the LCVI committee chose to subsidize this benefit because of the wide scope of options it offers. “One of the things we were looking at is, what can we do for a lot of people who don’t have much budget but who want to have career development opportunities.”

The course catalog offers a huge variety of classes, which each take from one to about five hours to complete, Moller said. Titles range from business communication and accounting skills to dealing with emotional issues in the workplace, improving customer service and human resources skills (interviewing, hiring, performance appraisals), project management, team building, marketing, crisis management, mentoring, moving into management and career development.

Moller said the program also offers information on a number of business-related topics, in the form of “skill briefs” and “job aids.”

“The real advantage is that you can do it anytime you need information,” she said. “Say you’re going to be running a meeting and it’s your first time running a meeting — you can go in and get information right away.”

First-time users of the system must log in with their employee number and e-mail address, and the e-mail must bear a u.washington.edu address. Users can test themselves on the subject they’re learning both before and after taking each class, and many classes can be used to earn continuing education credits, or even certificates in certain fields such as project management.

Some classes also feature simulations, Moller said, where you choose how you might respond in a certain situation, and the program bases its next move on that response.

“There are also different things you can do to make it interesting. Everybody in a work group can do a course together, and have discussions about it afterward,” Moller said. “That’s a great tool.”

For more information about the SkillSoft e-Learning classes, visit the Professional and Organizational Development Web page, which has full instructions, at http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/pod/elearning/index.html