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Building a Community with Improvement Fundamentals by NHS England’s Accessible Learning Team

NHS England’s Improvement Fundamentals course is an online programme consisting of mini-courses aimed at workers in the health and care sector who are working on (or about to start) a project on quality improvement.

As the Accessible Learning team for NHS England, we recently decided to give the course a revamp using Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs) Learning Pool Platform platform, ensuring it was more suited to the needs of our students who value the opportunity to collaborate and learn in a social environment.

The Original Improvement Fundamentals

We first ran Improvement Fundamentals back in 2015, when we were part of NHS Improving Quality working with our Swedish Partners Jönköping University and Qulturum (a centre for knowledge and innovation improvement in healthcare).

At first, it proved to be popular – over 5,000 people took part across the three course iterations. Yet our students were providing feedback that detailed the need for more opportunities to connect with one another, as well as complaints that the course was too long and burdensome to complete.

‘Revamping’ the Course

We then decided it was time to look for a platform with a real focus on community – one that allowed students to easily interact with one another, with us existing as their facilitators.

Our old systems hasn’t provided students with a comment section and, many felt disconnected from one another and from the experts running the course.

This is where Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) came in. The social interaction capabilities that exist within each activity are easy to use and operate in a similar way to highly popular websites, such as Facebook, making them extremely intuitive.

Now equipped with a new system, we began to focus on cutting the course down into bite-sized chunks of around 2.5 hours each. Previously, we had run the course so that one module ran straight into the next but, this time we wanted to give students more time to digest the information and, put their learning into practice before starting the next module.

The ‘New-Look’ Version

We launched the new and enhanced Improved Fundamentals in July 2018, running one mini-course every three months on average. Each mini-course lasts for a week and we’re on-hand to facilitate the learning and answer any questions in the social space that students might have.

Students can complete the mini-course at any point up until the next one starts. In between mini-courses, they are required to go away and complete a work-based project.

So far, the feedback we have received has been positive with students enjoying the new, bite-sized version:

“Now starting my #QIHIKERS improvement fundamentals 101. Excited to expand my QI knowledge and loving the format of the course! Watch out @RCHTTransform for my heightened levels of QI enthusiasm #Lovemyjob” – @TamsynBrown2

“It’s been a great experience to be part of the @QIFUNdamentals Course this week! Lot’s to put into practice now!” – @hunter_kehunter

One of Stream LXP (formerly Curatr)’s initiatives that students have been engaging with is the experience Points [XPs], which you gain by completing the in-course activities and attracting ‘likes’ to your social contributions.

The XPs, coupled with ‘badges’, provide a fun and competitive element to the course; giving the students extra incentive to get involved. The course is also CPD accredited, with students able to claim CPD points after they have successfully completed each mini-course.

Building a Community

So far, we’ve seen nearly 2,000 students enrol onto the programme from all over the world. The community aspects of the course have really appealed to these students (we’ve seen over 5,300 comments in the social spaces) and they’re finding value in the ability to engage directly with us as course facilitators.

Outside of the platform, we also encourage our students to be active on Twitter, which provides them with the chance to share their thoughts on topics perhaps not directly related to the course, or to connect with one another in a less formal way.

Our Twitter account, @QIFundamentals, now has more than 1,500 followers and, our #QIHikers hashtag is generating some lively and informative discussions.

Our Top Tips

If you’re thinking of setting up your own online course, we have some top tips that might help you based on what we’ve learnt through the process:

  • Give learners as much chance to connect with each other and, with you, as possible – both within and, away from the course
  • Break the course down into short, manageable chunks
  • Give learners flexibility to complete the course when they can
  • Provide a variety of formats within each module – e.g. documents, videos, quotes etc
  • Stream LXP (formerly Curatr)’s gamification, CPD points and badge incentives are well-worth promoting to learners
  • Give regular prompts to learners – but don’t ‘spam’ them
  • Make it fun!

About the Author

NHS Accessible Learning Team


NHS England’s Accessible Learning Team aims to provide all health and care staff with access to high quality improvement knowledge and learning.

Sitting within the Sustainable Improvement (SI) Team within NHS England and working with staff across SI, the team uses innovative learning technologies to remove barriers to learning, helping people to develop the skills, values and behaviours needed to deliver improvement in the NHS and the wider health and care system.

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