The Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities has more than 36,000 staff members providing support to people throughout the state with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Keeping training up to date and managing the learning had proven to be a daunting task while using a different education vendor prior to 2019.
Using online learning with Relias, however, has saved the agency an estimated $20,000 in administrative costs. It also has eliminated about 800 hours of labor, allowed staff across the entire state to access a variety of training modules, and provided the ability for staff members to easily access their transcripts and credentials.
“We know that they are getting what they need,” said Heike Johns, Learning and Development Coordinator for the agency. “They are not just checking a box. They are getting the content, and it’s a one-stop shop. It’s so easy to develop training plans, push them out, and make them run.”
The solutions Johns and her staff have enjoyed with Relias have made training staff across a large geographical area more efficient and effective. Identifying the challenges was the starting point.
Barriers to Timely Access
The Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities mandates 14 hours of onboarding for individuals providing employment services for a licensed agency and four hours of annual refresher training.
Previously, the agency used an e-learning vendor that provided free access to online training to meet these requirements. But that system was rife with challenges.
The learning portal required individuals to request access by sending an e-mail directly to the state, where only four full-time employees devoted 10% of their time to manually adding new users to this statewide portal.
While licensed employment support agencies could contract directly with the vendor, this involved an additional annual cost billed to the provider.
When Learning Provides Lessons
The previous e-learning vendor’s course content left much to be desired. Their content was reviewed on a five-year cycle, allowing for a greater potential to become outdated.
The learning management system (LMS) set up with the previous vendor lacked some administrative efficiencies as well. Despite offering unlimited seats at the state level, not enough staff time was available to manage the learning records effectively.
In April 2019, the Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities discussed expanding an existing contract to replace the e-learning portal. Training funds were used to conduct a small pilot with 100 employees, which led to a switch to Relias.
Streamlining Learner Access
Among the numerous benefits Relias provided were subportals to 20 agencies with existing subportals from the state’s contract.
A self-registration portal allows any employee working in a provider agency to create an individual login and gain unlimited learner role access. Employees can simply access the public Division of Developmental Disabilities website, register, and establish a user account without having to interact with any state employee and wait for access.
The portal also allows the agency to house its original training content, which Johns calls an invaluable resource. “This offers a place for us to put our custom content for any and all providers to access,” she said. “We are also able to push this content out to contracted subportals.”
A Change for the Better
When compared with the previous e-learning vendor, the content Relias delivers is described by Johns as “phenomenal.” Courses are tailored to the learner and appropriate for the educational level of direct support staff (many hold only a high school diploma). In addition, individuals providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) services were thrilled with the high quality of Relias ABA courses.
Learners can now track and share their records across provider agencies, making their training transcripts and credentials easily accessible and reportable.
Additionally, any agency headquartered in Missouri is now able to request its own subportal from Relias. These agencies can upgrade to any additional library content they choose for a discount.
Solutions Tailored to Needs
What does Johns suggest for organizations seeking a more robust, powerful learning experience?
“Figure out what you need first,” she said. “Don’t look at the price tag first. Think about your perfect world. What would make training better? With Relias, the support and problem-solving, the data you will see, and the streamlining of training — I only have positive things to say!”