Heather McGilvary

Heather McGilvary has a background in Education and experience working within Community and Social Services in Alberta. Currently working as a Senior E-Learning and Workforce Consultant for Canada’s Tech Association (TECHNATION), Heather is working to enhance workplace learning experiences across industries. Heather’s research is in progress as she currently works with her supervisor in preparation for Candidacy.

Title: The Online Learning Experiences of Front-line Community Service Workers in Alberta

Abstract: The training and education of front-line workers (FLWs) within Alberta’s Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) sector is critical due to the high-risk and complex work environment. Front-line workers advocate that they are ill-equipped and feel unsafe in the workplace (Smith, 2019). Online learning within the PDD sector provides flexible, accessible, and cost-reducing options for the skill development of FLWs. The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) further perpetuated the need for online learning solutions as FLWs were deemed “essential” and further health and safety protocols needed to be taught. The research seeks to interpret and provide meaning to the online learning experiences of FLWs who demographically represent a vulnerable, marginalized, and structurally disadvantaged population (Raemy & Paignon, 2019; Stoten, 2020). In order to adequately safeguard and skill FLWs training solutions must address their lived-experiences within a complex, overburdened, and high-risk work environment (Abel et al., 2013). Using Lewin’s (1943) Force Field Analysis (FFA) the driving and hindering factors impacting FLW’s online learning experiences are explored within the complexity of the PDD sector. Utilizing a case study approach with a mixed-method survey methodology, this research aims to provide workforce-centered insights towards the delivery of online learning in Alberta’s PDD sector.


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