Lunch and Learning: Crowdsourcing for E-Learning Innovation
This article is part of a series on overcoming the challenges of distance work by creating learning experiences based on difficult learning sciences. What you are about to read is a myth. The learning challenges facing the company, AshCom, fictional, but Catherine, CLO of AshCom and her team are shared by learning teams in real and large organizations. It is our hope that you will be able to connect with the characters, their challenges and the solutions they have discovered. We invite you to read The first ebook in the series.
Virtual learning solutions
“A partially remote workforce trained primarily through virtual education.” Catherine wrote these words at the top of the whiteboard in her office. ASCOM’s CHRO Laszlo has given him this challenge. As a manufacturing company, Ashcom would not be completely remote, but Laszlo and his team identified 1,400 jobs out of a total of 7,000 in Ashcom that could become partial or even completely remote. This was one of the key strategies they used to capture the great people they already had and attract new people to AshCom.
The words on the whiteboard made Katherine restless. He has been close to adult education for more than two decades in various roles in large companies. He remembers the days when virtual education was more of a promise than a reality. In the early days, technology was limited and what was available was prohibitively expensive. He recalls making a small 3D animation early on with a price tag of over $ 100,000.
Things changed. Technology catches up to dreams. In some ways, it even surpassed what even the early theorists had predicted. Although Ashcom has not yet done much in augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, the technology he saw at the trade show is clearly changing the fabric of the learning experience.
Will it work?
It wasn’t the lack of tools that made Katherine apprehensive about a distant workforce trained by virtual education. Something else, more basic, made him hesitant. Will it work? This was a big bet for AshCom. Transferring 1,400 people to remote work in short order would cause major disruptions everywhere. The impending chaos would be worth keeping and attracting great people, but Katherine wasn’t sure all the details were considered.
Can he and his learning team still give people from far and wide a great learning experience so that they can do their job well? Will their education decrease? Will it really become a threat to Ashcom? Much of the learning literature in recent years has focused on the power of social learning. How will that remote work?
Catherine did a quick literature review, especially for organizations that have already converted to virtual education. The results were mixed. Some companies have found amazing success with virtual. Other stories were less encouraging, and some had flat out issues.
Katherine sat staring at her whiteboard. “A partially remote workforce trained primarily through virtual education.” Was it possible? Looks like it was and some companies have done it successfully. What was the difference between those companies and those that had moderate or even low success?
The list of questions gets longer and the list of answers gets shorter. Katherine decided it was time to meet Rebecca, who usually helped bring some clarity.
Rebecca played a consulting role for Ashcom. Her company, MindSpring, was first introduced to Katherine and her learning team when they decided to create a real learning game that would teach their managers more financial literacy. They needed a partner with deep experience in learning and game building. Their search led to Mindspring, which then hired Rebecca as their main communications and education advisor.
Although Katherine originally planned to use Rebecca’s services only in the game, she continued to employ Rebecca, who helped the AshCom team work through other strategic initiatives. Rebecca had a lot of experience with other companies and she understood the learning challenges of the manufacturing industry.
Katherine has set up a video conference call with Rebecca. Given their roles and job lists, none of them were too short to speak. Catherine Lazlo jumped in, explaining the challenge. Was the driver of this initiative.
“I see this in most of my clients,” Rebecca said. “Some companies are diving into the headfirst without much reflection. They know they need it, so they just move on. “
“And how is it going for them?” Asked Catherine.
Rebecca replied, “It’s on the whole map.” “Some had more experience than others and so their results were different.”
“Are there any similarities between those who are doing virtual education in the remote workforce?” Asked Catherine.
Peer input and benchmarking
“The good ones have done some benchmarking and talked to their colleagues in the learning industry,” Rebecca replied. “You can read all the articles you like, but there’s really no better option than talking to some leaders who have already done what you’re trying to do at AshCom. I can help you very quickly. “
“It would be appreciated,” said Catherine hesitantly.
“But that’s not what you’re looking for, is it?” Asked Rebecca, with a loud gesture in her voice. “I can’t help you unless you tell me what you’re fighting.” Rebecca got to know Katherine better when they worked together and considered it part of her role as a speaker of unwanted truth.
“I don’t want to underestimate benchmarking, and I really appreciate your help in connecting with the people down the road,” said Katherine. “But no. That’s not my biggest concern. I’m not even really sure how to put it into words.” Katherine thought for a moment, and Rebecca was experienced enough not to interrupt.
“It goes beyond the question of whether this virtual learning experience will work,” Katherine said. “I’m trying to avoid being a person who is against improvement, but I have a lot of questions about the virtual learning experience.”
“Okay,” Rebecca said. “Whether others have done it or not, and whether it is possible to do it, you are asking some profound questions. Do you think the virtual right direction?
“Something like that,” Katherine said.
“Let me try it,” Rebecca replied. “You want to know that virtual education for distance workers is actually based on solid learning science.”
“Yes!” Said Catherine. “That’s it. I know we can. I know we need to. I believe if the learning experience is based on strong learning sciences then delivery can change. That part is missing. We talk about psychology, sociology and brain science which is how people learn. It contributes to our understanding, but have we ever wondered how they communicate virtual learning?
“Among my clients,” said Rebecca, “most of the time that is not even considered, and it shows. Fighting. “
“Here’s my challenge,” said Catherine. “It’s a high-profile, fast-paced project, and I don’t have a few months to participate in a research or undergraduate course on how to combine the two. I need to move faster than that. What opportunities can you research and let me know so I can get over it? “
“Let me give you another piece of advice,” Rebecca said. “Your learning team is one of the more experienced teams I know of among the companies I work with. If I think correctly, at least one of them is currently completing his undergraduate degree. You already have people who are educated and virtual in learning science. There is some learning experience. “
“I see where you’re going,” said Catherine. “I have everything I need sitting outside my office.”
“Yes,” Rebecca replied, “and I think they would all be honored to share with you and your team what they already know or what they will learn by doing a little research.”
“Crowd-sourcing to a very smart crowd?” Catherine answered. “Brilliant. Any suggestions on how to do this? “
“One comes to mind,” Rebecca said. “Maybe you assign each of them to a specific branch of the Learning Science Tree and ask that person to give a 15 minute presentation on that science and how it relates to virtual learning.”
“Good start,” replied Catherine. “I don’t want to have a bunch of 15-minute PowerPoint presentations without the opportunity to ask some questions and think a little. It may take a while, but I think Lazlo will be fine if we take a few weeks to do it. I think the payoff will make the time worthwhile. “
“What are you thinking?” Asked Rebecca.
“I’m thinking of a series of lunches and learning,” Katherine said. “I will assign one subject to each team member. They will have 15 minutes to present an overview of the science of learning, 15 minutes to talk about how it relates to virtual learning, and then 15 minutes to discussions and questions. We can go through everything in two weeks. “
“Sounds like a plan,” Rebecca said. “I need to go to another virtual meeting, but please let me know how I can be helpful.”
After Rebecca finished the meeting, Katherine walked over to the whiteboard in her office. On the left, he writes:
- Brain science
- Consumer science
After staring at the list for a few moments, he began to match the science of learning with his teammates. It came to him quickly because he was familiar with the education, experience and passion of his team members.
- Brain science – Daryl
- Psychology – Martina
- Sociology – Michael
- Linguistics – Adina
- Consumer science – Amy
He added another at the bottom of the list: instructional design. He gave it to Maggie, who spent more time with Ashcom than anyone else.
After a quick review, Katherine began drafting an email to her team that would explain the challenges of virtual training of remote staff, why they needed to do it, and which department each would lead. He also sent out a schedule that started with the first lunch-and-learn in two weeks. Daryl got up first and will get less time than the others, a challenge she will take on. They will meet for lunch, which will be provided, Monday, Wednesday and Friday until they cover all matters.
Download eBook Embrace Remote Working Challenges: How to Introduce a Learning Experience in Solid Learning Science to discover how you can overcome obstacles with the help of psychology learning and targeted solutions supported by proven methods. You can join the webinar to discover which scientific principles are relevant for remote workforce training.