AS081 E-Quitskills


Federal and State Government tobacco control initiatives to reduce smoking, particularly among the disadvantaged in Australia, are driving an escalating need for smoking cessation training and education within the health and community services sector. Incorporating smoking cessation support for clients/patients into job roles is an example of the increasing complexity of work roles in the health and community services sector.
The project aims to develop the current AQF aligned Quit SA smoking cessation training ‘Quitskills’ into a blended learning format ‘E-Quitskills’. Delivering learning content in an e-learning mode will increase accessibility and flexibility of smoking cessation training for the range of learners in the health and community services sector. A more flexible and accessible training course like E-Quitskills has considerable potential. In the future the training could be:
  • shared more readily among Quit organisations across Australia and rolled-out nationally,
  • customised for particular specialist groups of workers such as Aboriginal health workers, and,
  • with with the expansion of the NBN, be particularly valuable to rural and remote workers in a 100% e-learning mode.
Lead Agency
  • Quit SA (Cancer Council SA)
  • Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA)
  • SA Network Drug & Alcohol Services (SANDAS)
  • Mental Health Coalition of SA

Project Summary

How will the project improve learner access to improve employment outcomes?
  1. Completion of the E-Quitskills course gives learners three competencies in smoking cessation support. The competencies are:The project also aims to provide more accessibility and flexibility in the delivery of the Quitskills training through e-learning approaches. This will enable more learners in health and community services to access high quality training. This skill set in smoking cessation is valued both by students as well as employers because of the increasing need to incorporate smoking cessation into health and community services work.

  2. In additon, the knowledge and skills gained from Quitskills training in smoking cessation are transferable to other aspects of human services work. A key learning outcome of the Quitskills training is introductory skills and knowledge of ‘Motivational Interviewing’, an evidenced-based counselling approach that facilitates health behaviour change. Motivational interviewing has gained wide acceptance and utility particularly in health and community services settings where health behaviour change is an important issue i.e. drug and alcohol, chronic disease management work.
  3. Smoking cessation training offered in a flexible e-learning format will benefit a range of learners, but particularly workers in the social and community services sector. This sector is characterised by low pay, challenging working conditions and a lack of professional development opportunities. Additional qualifications and skills that complement other VET qualifications are highly valued by learners and employers alike in this sector.
  4. Internal evaluations of Quitskills training participants since 2009 has noted a demand for more accessible and flexible smoking cessation education and training options such as e-learning, particularly from those workers in regional and remote locations.
Target learners
  • Up to 30 worker/students in the health and community services sector
Interactive learning approach
  • Education delivered for a range of topics via variety of e-delivery modes including podcasts, vodcasts, wiki, research, fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes as well as face-to-face
  • Assessment and other activities utilising diverse technologies that provide opportunities to apply and assess knowledge i.e. case stories, scenarios, reflections, discussion forums, quizzes, tutorials, face-to-face skills practice
  • Access to Quit SA facilitators via phone, email
  • Face to face group meeting
Planned Technologies
  • Moodle learning management system including features such as discussion forums, video and sound files, instant messaging, wiki development, assessment
  • Teleconferences
  • Telephone support
  • Email support
How does this project align to the jurisdictional and national priorities?
The health and community services sector employs about 85,000 people or 10.7% of the SA workforce.[1] As noted in the SA government’s Skills For Jobs report, there is increasing complexity of the work roles in health and community services sectors and workers are required to up-skill across a wide variety of areas.[2] The emerging need for the health and community services sector to address smoking as a health and social justice issue has increased interest and demand from employers, educational institutions and bodies representing the sector for a workforce capable of undertaking smoking cessation services.
This demand for smoking cessation education and training will continue to grow within South Australia. A whole of SA government transition to smoke-free by 2015 is expected to create significant demand, particularly in large departments such as the Department of Families and Communities. Furthermore, if SA government funding to community services agencies becomes linked to smoke-free policy and practice as anticipated, demand will increase even further as Social and Community Services agencies will be mandated to take on smoking cessation support.
The SA government, Drug & Alcohol Services SA (DASSA), has identified the rising need for up-skilling a large workforce of health and community services workers with smoking cessation skills and knowledge. As a result, Quit SA, as the only provider of smoking cessation education and training services in South Australia, is expected to implement e-learning options to increase the access to and flexibility of smoking cessation education and training.
Consultation with stakeholders
A number of consultation meetings were held with organisations including the Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA), the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS), Mental Health Coalition of SA, TAFE SA and the Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA) (Quit SA funding body) to outline the aims of the E-Quitskills project. All the stakeholders agreed that the project would facilitate access to much needed skills and knowledge and joined with Quit SA as support partners in the E-Quitskills project.
Intended outcomes from your project
Within project timeframe the outcomes are to:
  • Develop a Quit SA e-learning site using Moodle LMS that can deliver flexible and accessible e-learning for health and community services across SA;
  • Develop the current Quitskills training program into a blended e-learning program E-Quitskills;
  • Pilot E-Quitskills with up to 30 South Australian health and community services students and workers;
  • Increase the skills and knowledge among learners relating to smoking cessation and more broadly, working with patients/clients around health behaviour change.
Long-term potential outcomes
  • Roll-out E-Quitskills nationally;
  • Expand Quit SA courses available as e-learning programs;
  • Develop current Aboriginal Health Worker Quitskills course in partnership with Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) to an e-learning format;
  • Develop technological mediums for improving access and interactivity of Quit SA e-learning courses i.e. assessing counselling practice for participants in regional and remote locations via new technologies.

Actual Outcomes resulting from this project

What was done? List what your project actually achieved with the funding.
E-learning Development
The first stage of the project involved getting an e-learning site established. A local company WWDaD set up our site using the
Moodle LMS. During this development phase February and March 2012, a specialist e-learning content developer and trainer was contracted to provide some intensive support and training for the project leaders and E-Quitskills facilitators Betty Lipparelli and Jenni Gamble.
This enabled a rapid re-development of our well established Quitskills training program into a blended learning format. A considerable portion of the educational content and four assessments for the Quitskills program were re-developed for the e-learning context. While content is still largely text-based, it is enhanced with weblinks, graphics, audio/visuals and a range of learning activities making it much more interactive for the e-learner. The assesments and learning activities included case studies, scenarios and quizzes. Moving content and some assessments online freed up the face-to-face component of the training for reviewing and consolidating the e-learning content and focusing on the most critical aspect of the course which is the counselling (motivational interviewing) skills.

After usability testing, our first group of learners gained access to the E-Quitskills course. Below is a screenshot of the home-page of the E-Quitskills course as the learners saw it during the piloting phase of the project. The construction of the e-learning site is expected to be completed in July 2012.

Piloting E-Quitskills
Our partner organisations promoted the E-Quitskills training and a total of 32 learners registered. During April/May 2012 the blended e-learning and face to face smoking cessation program E-Quitskills was piloted with 28 learners (health and community services students and workers) . A total of 29 learners commenced the training with 28 successful completions. Four full day face-to-face sessions were conducted comprising groups of 8, 10, 7 and 5 learners.
E-Quitskills counselling assessment activity

A key change to the delivery of Quitskills training in the new blended E-Quitskills format was a greater focus on counselling skill development during the face-to-face component of the training. The major assessment task of Quitskills training is a 'roleplay' in which learners demonstrate competency in providing quit smoking support to a client.
With much of the education content delivered in the e-learning component, the face-to-face session allowed more time for learning and assessment. As a result, this roleplay assessment was modified substantially to allow for extended practice and preparation for learners during the face-to-face session.

E-Quitskills - a success!
Learners practicing counselling skills
Evaluation of the E-Quitskills training demonstrated that Quitskills was enhanced by the blended learning format. As expected, varying the delivery format by including an e-learning component for Quitskills did not diminish the learning outcomes in any way. Pre and post evaluations of E-Quitskills learners showed clear progress in the skills, knowledge and the attitudes necessary for best practice in smoking cessation support.
Moreover, the facilitators noted that working with learners with e-learning preparation greatly enhanced the learning and consolidation of skills in the face-to-face session.

However, we were also interested in explicitly evaluating the e-learning component of the training to assess the experience of learners with the e-learning content and site. The results showed that 100% of learners strongly or somewhat agreed that the e-learning was enjoyable, convenient, and the e-learning technology easy. More than three quarters stongly agreed that the site was easy to log on to and information was pitched at the right level. The vast majority found navigation was straight forward and enjoyed learning at their own pace. While there were some suggestions for improvement, most learners were very positive about the e-learning component of the training.
Click below to read the results of the e-learning evaluation survey.

What are the benefits that the following have experienced from actual outcomes of this project?

Quit SA
The benefits to Quit SA are substantial:
  • The establishment of an e-learning site will transform the way education and training is delivered within Quit SA. As a non-governement organisation in the community service sector this will greatly enhance our capacity to deliver tobacco related education to more workers, organisations and people who smoke.
  • The quality of the Quitskills has improved as a result of the project. A broader range of content and higher quality content can now be delivered more flexibly to learners.
  • The quality of other Quit SA education and training will also be enhanced with e-learning capacity. A quality E-learning site provides an enduring, up to date resource for all learners. The potential to reach new groups of learners in more flexible and accessible ways is exciting.
  • The upskilling of several E-QuitSA project staff with Moodle LMS and various e-technologies provides Quit SA/Cancer Council SA with a powerful human resource capable of developing new e-learning opportunities across the organisation.
Our partners have benefited by increased access to quality, accredited, specialist training that supports the needs of their workforce at no cost. In some newer partnerships i.e. Mental Health Coalition of SA, the partnership offers opportunities for increasing collaborative work. For our more established partners i.e. Aboriginal Health Council of SA and SANDAS, this pilot project offered timely insights into the value of blended and e-learning formats for smoking cessation training delivery.
Our 28 sucessful learners gained three competencies in smoking cessation that should enhance their current practice in the health and community services sector. The Quitskills training provides learners with increased skills, knowledge and confidence to support people to quit smoking. These skills are well regarded in the health and community services sectors as more organisations strive to adddress smoking among their client groups.
Evaluation of E-Quitskills suggests that these skills and knowledge were gained in the context of an improved training course that offered increased flexibitlity for learners.

Reflections and Suggestions

  • E-learning opened up many possibilities for our Quitskills training and more broadly, for education and training within Quit SA. However, we are (still) learning about the balance needed when education and training is delivered in a blended format. We learned that e-learning content needs to focus on quality rather than quantity. We were tempted at times to keep adding more interesting content but are now focusing on refining the content to ensure the learning stays focused on what is essential to the learning and assessment components of the course. We decided that we can still offer extension via further reading, links and activities to interested students but are working to deliniate what content is essential and what is for further interest.
  • How much support and e-facilitation do e-learners need? While the needs of individual learners will be different, we found our e-learners were comforted by ready access to facilitators via phone and email. There was some suggestion from evaluation of the e-learning component that more support might be helpful for a minority of learners including the idea for a forum for discussion and sharing of ideas and issues. This is now planned for future E-Quitskills courses.
  • Balancing the e-learning and face-to-face components was important to ensure the face to face session was not repetitious. We aimed to prepare learners and needed to think carefully about how the face-to-face session could enhance and build from the e-learning material.
E-learning integrity
  • While most learners came to the face-to-face session adequately prepared through completion of the e-learning material and e-assessments, some learners clearly did not undertake aspects of the learning that were not assessed. How do we encourage learning without assessment? Since the E-Quitskills pilot courses we have since introduced the checklist feature of the Moodle LMS to enable learners to checklist the e-learning content.

Sustainability of project outcomes

Quit SA
With the successful piloting of the E-Quitskills training course, e-learning is embedded into Quit SA education and training activities. In the future, all Quitskills training will be offered in a blended learning mode utilising an e-learning component. The establishment of our e-learning site ensures the quality, flexibility and accessability of the Quitskills training course will only be improved through e-learning.
In addition, complimentary training such as the competency -based Motivational Interviewing training course planned for the second half of 2012, will also now be offered in a blended learning mode, improving the quality of this training. Face-to-face training time can be reduced and the quality of education and training can be improved through high quality prepartory e-learning activities and assessments.
Our partners
The E-Quitskills success has positive implications for our partner organisations also. E-learning has opened up a range of collabortive education possibilities with several of our partner organisations. For example, there are already tentative plans for an e-learning resource to compliment the 3-day face to face training for Aboriginal Health workers.


This is an Access to Skills project output, developed by Quit SA (a part of Cancer Council SA) in partnership with the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, SA Network Drug & Alcohol Services (SANDAS), TAFE SA, the Mental Health Coalition of SA with seed funding from the National VET e-learning strategy.

For more information

For more information on Quit SA/Cancer Council SA
Betty Lipparelli or Jenni Gamble
Cessation Services Project Officers
(08) 8291 4109 or (08) 8291 4266

For more information on SA Network Drug & Alcohol Services (SANDAS)
Andris Banders
Executive Officer
(08) 8231 8818

For more information on Aboriginal Health Council of SA
Graeme Williams
Training Resource and Education Consultant
(08) 8273 7210

For more information on TAFE SA
Sue James
Training Coordinator Workplace Services
(08) 8207 8246

For more information on Mental Health Coalition of SA
Christine Inkster
Manager, Workforce Development & Training
(08) 8212 8873

For more information on the Access to Skills program
Phone: (08) 9229 5200

[1] Skills For Jobs. The Training and Skills Commission’s Five Year Plan for Skills and Workforce Development. Government of South Australia, September 2010
[2] ibid p.49