I am presenting at the ElNet Workplace Congress in Sydney tomorrow – if you can’t make it here’s a sneak peak at my presentation
Or watch the video here
Time sure does fly when you are getting old ! Lots of change in the air lately – I have jumped off the big financial services juggernaut over into the Higher Education sector and I am loving it!
I am working on a few projects that I will be blogging about shortly..this post is just to kick start my blogging juices again 😉
I just watched this very short video that stated that ‘Social Learning Is Not By Definition Informal’ – it made me think!
Tammara says a few things in the video, mainly:
1. learning = social
2. social learning = learning between you and another person
3. social learning NOT informal
My question is: what is her interpretation of informal learning?
Because learning to walk is social and also informal..there is no structure or assessment or rules around it. So if learning to walk is social learning then social learning can be informal.
I think what we need to clarify here is what we define as ‘Social learning’ – because Bandura (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_learning_theory) developed his Social Learning theory a long time ago and it is based on learning via observation and role modeling – is this the same Social Learning people are referring to these days?
I have a feeling it is more about social media used for learning. Is this informal..well it can be – depends on how you use it! We all use social networks to some degree and learn informally via these tools..and we can also incorporate social media into formal learning programs.
And what about Connectivism..is this what we really mean when we talk about social learning?
I like what George Siemens has to say in this post http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=317: With connectivism, the emphasis has always been on distribution and connectedness of knowledge and learning. Social networks are one way of “being distributed”. Technological and informational networks are another. While people may have certain social limits to sense making, visualization tools, recommender systems, and similar technologically-mediated models scale beyond what we can do through social networks.
Is social learning informal..it depends on what your interpretation of social learning and informal learning is. It can be, why not?
There is change in the air and spring is on it’s way (for my Aussie and southern hemisphere friends!) and there’s a new place to frequent for great, stimulating L&D talk : The Learning Cafe ! http://www.learningcafe.com.au/
The Learning Cafe is an initiative started by a group of L&D professionals in Sydney, Australia to facilitate quality discussions around L&D.
I’m heading home in 2 weeks so i am looking forward to being part of these conversations..and I’ll be blogging too !
Come and join us !
One of the tasks i had coming into my role at ING Insurance was to manage the administration of the Learner Management System (LMS). We had a system but no central support or center of excellence to guide the regional L&D teams and ILC admins on how to best manage both the system and their use of e-learning. This was being done in an ad-hoc way.
It was a big task that required us to:
- Employ a regional administrator to act as central point of contact for support and advice
- Carry out an analysis of the region – who was administering the system in each country?, did they use e-learing or blended learning approaches?, what was their level of knowledge in these areas?, did they see the need to connect to others in the region and share best practices and learn from each other?
- Identify the top 3 areas that needed attention (establish a regional support desk for the system, ensure minimum skills and knowledge in the region, build a community of practice)
- Create a strategy to meet top 3 areas mentioned above.
How did we go? here is the strategy document ING CRE eL Strategy 2011
We hired a very good administrator, got the helpdesk up and running and the community of practice was slowly coming together. We now have to hand this over to corporate headquarters – like sending our little child off to school for the first time! There is still a lot of work to be done but we are confident that we have started on the right track!
So our 100 day action learning challenge is fast approaching crunch time – the teams have been working hard and we can feel the momentum, energy and stress rising steadily! It’s been a great learning experience for everyone involved so far but as with any type of project there have been glitches..namely we’ve had too many cooks in the kitchen these past few weeks.
What does this mean? Well..you know how it goes – you have a wonderful dish bubbling away, you add a bit of spices..not too much because it’s cooking and it needs to do it’s thing. But then wham! the other cooks in the kitchen come and give it a stir..and maybe throw in some extra spices. What does this do? Totally changes the culinary experience – the outcome won’t be the same!
This is similar to what happened recently with our programme. We have 3 teams, all handed the same task and tools. The way in which they reach their goal is totally up to them. We can expect a few things: first of all there is the natural development of the group (Tuckman’s theory of group stages is very evident http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forming-storming-norming-performing) this means that each group may (and prob will) function differently – their processes, speed of development, methods used to make decisions etc will be different – and as facilitators we need to respect this and give them the space to do that.
There is a lot of informal learning going on – which he participants may or may not be aware of (and this is the beauty of a learning project like this one). What happened the other week is that as facilitators we stired the pot – told one team that they were falling behind and not performing the same as the other two teams. Now what does this do? What happens if we expect the teams to all proceed at the same pace and in the same fashion? We are intruding in the natural learning process and ultimately influencing it.
This is not good. If we start telling the teams they have to do X or Y, or that other teams are at Z stage and they should be too then this puts undue pressure on the team and also starts to shape their learning. The environment becomes more regulated, the learners feel watched and the pressure starts to mount. This all has enormous impacts on the learning process. We are now creating a contrived learning environment.
The goal of this programme is two-fold: the achievement of the task (Action) and also the learning (Reflection) – the key is to give the learners enough space and freedom so that the learning happens in the way that it happens – the pot of gold is at the end when we look back and reflect on what actually happened, how and why and what we can take away from it, how we grew and what insights we now have.
So no stirring the pot while it is cooking! I’ll let you know in 2 weeks how it all panned out 🙂
Earlier this year i participated in a ‘100 Day Challenge’ – a GE Workout style experience where management identifies a key issue or business challenge and hands the task of solving it to a group of employees closer to the business – the challenge is to come up with a viable solution in 100 days and see it through to implementation.
Now this was an excellent experience for everyone involved – my team came up with a great proposal, the leadership team loved it and it’s currently being implemented. Sounds like a win-win situation right?
Fast forward 6 months and i am now involved in another similar 100 Day Challenge – this time on the design side. And it dawned on me that my previous experience lacked something very very important : the actual learning ! It’s not like we didn’t learn anything..we did. It just wasn’t an integral part of the process – it wasn’t an intentional part of the experience. So that was a huge opportunity missed and a mistake that won’t happen again (at least when i’m on the design side).
So how are we tackling it this time round? Enter the Action-Reflection Learning methodology. It is the perfect fit for a 100 day challenge program. What it does is bring to the forefront the two key processes that are occurring : the actual task/challenge and the learning. It makes both an integral part of the experience – an intentional aspect.
You can read a bit more about Action-Reflection Learning here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_Reflection_Learning
Our program is now underpinned by some solid learning theories. We know the participants are going to learn a lot and we want to make sure that they are aware of what they are learning and can (somewhat easily) transfer this back to the workplace – all the while solving the challenge!
What are the building blocks? A set of learning principles – these guide the learning within the program – when we design we need to make sure that these are included (tacit knowledge, reflection, reinforcement, new mental models, social learning, self awareness and relevance).
Then we have different levels at which learning occurs (personal, professional, team and organizational) – when we design we need to make sure that we look at how to facilitate and maximize the learning at these different levels. What activities do we include, what resources do we make available, what support do the learners need, how do we make reflection a purposeful part of the process at all these levels?
This all ties into a competency framework. We work with internal SMEs, external coaches, a shiny new social network/learning platform and lots of thought into how to embed the learning and ensure transfer.
We still have a few months till D day – it will be interesting to see how it goes – i have a feeling it will be awesome !
Tags: blended learning
So what will you get if you put all your classroom materials in the blender and hit go? A right ol mess!
It’s been a busy week (with non stop rain in Amsterdam and a terrible cold!) one of the things on my plate this week was to review a proposed ‘blended’ learning module. I thought going over my way of ‘blending’ might be an interesting read and as always I’m keen to hear feedback or tips for improving!
How do I blend? I start by looking through the existing materials (classroom lesson plan, PowerPoint slides, handouts, activities etc) – what I normally do is try to first of all get an idea of the key content delivered in the face to face session and the number/types of activities – most importantly what skills or knowledge are the activities building? I then make a skeleton outline of key topics and what activities are associated to them. This gives me a good idea of the levels of interaction, amount of trainer/facilitator involvement, types of debriefs etc.
The next step is to look at the constraints – how much time can you afford to deliver face to face, how much time can participants spend online, what e-learning development tools do you have etc.
I then decide what the purpose of the e-learning portion will be and what the purpose of the face to face session will be – some example scenarios could be
- E-learning as ‘Discovery’ learning (up front practice) + Classroom to expand/link theory & more practice
- E-learning for theory/concepts + Classroom for discussion & practice
- E-learning for theory/concepts & practice + Classroom for review and context
Once I’ve chosen a format and purpose for the e-learning and classroom I then create a ‘story’ or relevant context to wrap around and weave into the e-learning – making sure that the same story and/or context is present in the classroom portion – the blend has to flow seamlessly.
Some common mistakes that people make when blending are:
- Add lots of what I call ‘functional interactivity’ – buttons to click for the sake of clicking. I would add more instructional interactivity – the best way to do this is by looking at what the participants are doing in the classroom, what skills are they practising and add interactivity into the e-learning that will result in similar outcomes.
- Forget to add context to the theory – when presenting theory it’s always best to use a scenario to illustrate the concepts so that the learners can quite easily link the concept to practice – you can present the scenario up front then refer back to it. This makes it easier for learners to remember theory as it gives them some sort of structure to group the new info under etc (schemas and that kind of stuff).
- There isn’t a strong link between each topic and they flow on from each other a bit disjointedly – when the topics are hard to join on their own merit it can help to add an overall story or theme or scenario that will guide the learner from one topic to the next seamlessly – again this will help with memory retention and sense making.
So putting a banana, spinach and mango in a blender can turn out a yummy green smoothie…but I wouldn’t recommend the same for learning 😉
Tags: on-boarding, orientation
There’s a lot of research out there to support the notion that on-boarding new employees is crucial for engagement and shortening the time to competence. We know that sitting someone down and giving them a big fat manual or 100 PowerPoint slides to read on their first few days doesn’t work. But we do it anyway.
I’ve worked for a lot of very small companies (ranging from 5 to 15 employees) and there was never any type of structured ‘On-boarding’ (or Orientation training). I always thought ‘Well it’s a small company..you see the part you play pretty quick’ – then i made the jump to big corporates and saw some mediocre to very good On-boardings. Now i am working for a company with over 100,000 employees worldwide – you’d think the On-Boarding would be pretty well thought out. Unfortunately not.
I’m one month into my new job. I sat at my desk the first week and read through PowerPoint after PowerPoint after PowerPoint.
You can imagine how happy i was when i was told my first project was to sort out the ‘On-boarding’..what On-boarding i asked??
So how does one go about designing and putting together an On-Boarding program? I’ll detail my approach – happy to hear feedback, tips and advice from my peers re what works for your company!
1. What have we got?
First step i took was to look at what the current on-boarding process consisted of. That was relatively easy – there was hardly anything. No structured approach, no process in place (although there were details of how to on-board staff in the HR policy manual) and each manager was doing it their own way – some people were receiving warm welcomes and start packs..others nothing at all.
2. What do we need?
Next step was to start an analysis of what my department actually wanted to achieve through a proper on-boarding. What were the current pressure points? What indicators were there that people were not getting the info, knowledge or skills they needed to work effectively as quickly as possible?
3. The gap
The above uncovered 4 key issues :
* Breakdown in Workflow / Process – There were key issues around ownership of the on-boarding process, breakdowns in communicating who was responsible for what throughout the process and no support for those that had to on-board staff.
* Lack of Project specific knowledge and skills – Our context is a little different to the typical Business Line – i work in a huge project within a business unit – so we’re like a little world within another world, with very specific governance models, processes etc. All this info is crucial for new starters – it was being delivered in a very ad hoc way and the problems were evident down the track when targets were not met, rules not followed or just general knowledge of what role they played in the big scheme of things was unclear.
* Difficult access to resources – there were endless documents, manuals, PowerPoints, templates, tutorials etc but they were dispersed all over the intranet, shared drives and people’s personal emails.
* No consideration towards employee engagement – On-boarding was seen as a ‘we need to tell new people this, this and this’ but there was no thought towards the ‘people’ side – making the new team member feel welcomed, the simple yet very effective things like a welcome morning tea or lunch, a quick sit down with the rest of the team, a walk through the office to introduce the newbie – it was head down and straight to work.
Below is a very high level overview of the solution
Basically the solution is twofold – first we needed a support structure for those on-boarding staff – this responsibility will lie with the project managers so they need to know what to do and how (things like checklists, perf support docs etc help) secondly we needed an actual on-boarding process for the new starters (starting point being before their first day through to their first month). The process included clear content areas (structured on 3 levels: Company – Bu – Project), readily available resources (dedicated intranet for On-boarding, welcome packs, survival guide etc) and some face to face meetings (Manager Touchpoints and Welcome lunch).
The challenges ahead? The biggest challenge will be implementing of course ! This means communicating the new process & getting project managers to take more ownership. The key has been to listen to their needs and give them enough support to roll this
I’ll let you know in a few months how this is all working 😉
After a very (slow and not very motivating) 12 months in what was meant to be an e-learning design and development role i have moved back into a more generalist L&D role.
And i feel like i’m home again!
The last 12 months have been a huge learning curve – I was buried deep within the business, surrounded by very technical content trying to develop e-learning. Lots of bumps and hiccups along the way meant i only really got my hands dirty on one project.
But things have changed for the better ! I am now back in L&D managing learning projects for my employer’s transformation project in Eastern Europe. Lots of work ahead, lots of learning ahead..and most importantly..lots of blogging and inspiration ahead !!
So on that note my future posts may not be all dedicated to e-learning , i will start blogging about Learning and Development in general, the challenges, projects and insights i gain in this new role.
Yay for comebacks !