Penington’s Online Drugs Training Program

by Jennifer Ellinghaus

eWorks & Penington Institute

Penington’s online drugs training program consists of an interactive online learning course containing three e-learning modules, which is accessed through a Moodle-based learning management system (LMS). The program, which was converted to an online format by eWorks’ content development team, aims to provide basic information about evidence-based harm reduction to non-specialist workers and to friends and families of drug users.

1. Impact on teaching/learning in your sector

Penington Institute is a not-for-profit organisation that advances health and community safety by connecting substance use research to practical action. Launched in 2014, Penington Institute has grown out of the rich and vibrant work of one of its programs, Anex, and its 20 years' experience working with people and families directly affected by problematic drug use. Penington are leading the way in a drive to increase the reach of their training programs via technologies that enable them to make their experience and programs accessible to those who need it. The first stage of this program is to educate health professionals in ways in which to have appropriate discussions about drug use. Within one week from launching, Penington had over 250 health professionals register and begin courses, and have already seen 68 course completions.

2. Innovation and use of technology

Online learning technology has had a lot of press recently with universities such as Harvard and Stanford making their courseware publically available via massive open online course (MOOC) models. Internet connectivity and delivery of rich media such as video, combined with learning management systems (LMS) that can provide self-paced learning environments complete with delivery and testing capabilities, enables for scaffolded learning programs that can scale to virtually unlimited audiences.

Using the MOOC model, Penington’s online courses enable learners to self-register, consume learning material anywhere, anytime and participate in formative and summative assessment with online certificates awarded immediately on completion of online tests.

3. Embedded practice and long-term impact

Given that training time and delivery costs need to fit into tighter health budgets, Penington’s training provides a low cost way to ensure professionals get access to learning regardless of when their schedule permits or where they are located. Using this open model as a springboard to reach as large an audience as possible, Penington aims to incorporate moderate course fees alongside existing funding revenues to further develop and expand both the course range and their audience. Penington aims to provide broader educational material to communities, families and people needing assistance with harm reduction.

You can join the MOOC here at