Monday, November 09, 2015

Redesign of face-to-face learning programmes into blended learning - an example in the Netherlands

I worked with a team of an internal academy to redesign their learning programs into powerful blended products. The challenge is ofcourse not to make a programme blended because it is fashionable but to improve the programme. Hence the first step we took was to think about the value of blended in-house learning programmes. The training that we redesigned was a three-day face-to-face event. The added value of blended was formulated by by this team in the following manner:
  • Diversity in activities (videos, texts, quiz, face-to-face methods) will allow more people to learn in their preferred styles. This makes it attractive to participate.
  • Stimulating people to work in different ways makes sure that learning is solid (think of the brain principles).
  • By making the programme interactive and more geared to actual practice we want to have more impact on practice.
Getting started with three design models
After thinking about the added value and an introduction to blended learning we went into sub- groups to redesign using three different models (3P's Jukebox, SamR see video below). This worked very well. I had not asked who the original owner of this training was and from the interaction I could not detect who was the lead of this training. The models invite everyone to become a designer in a new way and really made it a creative process. It was remarkable that people without much explanation, just a handout about the model could work intuitively. Furthermore, a different model really stimulated a different design. 

Looking for similarities and differences
 Using the three creative designs, we started looking for the similarities between the designs but also the unique ideas that impress the other groups. A similarity was that everyone proposed an online start. The three training days were brought back to 1.5 or 2 days, with online activities in between. It became clear that everyone used online to activate learners. A number of face-to-face elements such as an informal lunch with management was considered very important to keep as a face-to-face element. Truly innovative was the idea to steer away from instruction and ask people for feedback instead of educating them. This called was the "teach-back".

How did the models help? The 3P model definitely helped to surface these kind of ideas. I think the Jukebox model stimulated that group to think about a mentor-buddy system. This was the point where I correctly identified the owners of this training - because of ownership of how things have been done. However, this lead to an extensive discussion and comparison of activities with the original plan, all ideas were scrutinized in detail by the team. The discussions led to a reformulation of the goals. The original formulation was knowledge- oriented, currently the focus is more on networking and knowing who to ask questions. Another innovation was thinking about a cohort group helping each other beyond the course. I think that the models helped everyone to think more out of the box.

Facilitating online raised a number of challenges which still need to tackled by the team. The first is the inclusion of management and subject matter experts in this new way of training. A second one is choosing a suitable platform. There are some platforms in the organization available but not a clear LMS. This will be the next step for this team - discussions in the organization and in search of the right tool.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Teams, technology and change

Schermafbeelding 2015-10-16 om 15.22.52

We organized a teamhackathon. Teams can make big steps in working and collaborating online in a smart way. The teamhackathon was really fun and I hope that many more teamhackathons will follow. In the picture it looks like it was a normal workshop, but is certainly wasn't.... The novelty of the Teamhackathon is:
  • People do not join individually but in teams of - 2-4 persons ...
  • They are working during the day on the basis of a concrete question around 'collaborate smarter online' ....
  • They get team coach throughout the day  ...
  • Can use six different experts ...
  • They work to produce a clear product, as in the case of my team an infographic...
I was a coach for one team and did a 15 minutes inspiration session. In my session we worked with the SWITCH model by now a known model from the book by Dan and Chip Heath (see below). It is a good model to use when you're dealing with a change in which technology plays a role. The key to this model is that you should work on all three levels simultaneously:
  • the rider (the vision, why)
  • the elephant (the motivation)
  • the path (make it easy)

What may go wrong? An example of what may go wrong if no or insufficient attention is paid to this element (the rider, the elephant, the path).

1. The rider gets lost. The rider of the elephant does not know which way to go to if there is no clarity what the intended change is and what effect the change should provide. In this case it is difficult for people to act. Suppose you have a social intranet, and you say that it is for "knowledge sharing". Knowledge sharing is too vague. This gives people no direction and you let them swim (or drown) guessing what exactly is expected of them. It could be that you want to encourage more innovative projects between departments. In that case, you can specifically identify this, brainstorming about possible projects, and provide a place for innovative projects on the social intranet.

2. The elephant is not motivated. If the elephant is not motivated, he will not move in any direction. And here you may change the word elephant for professional. Yesterday was mentioned several times how stubborn professionals may be. So really should think about the motivation of these professionals. What do they have in mind? Suppose there is a major re-organization under way in the organization, with layoffs and insecurity. Then you will not get people motivated to exchange openly online, it is too unsafe. You may get them sharing, but the question is how honest this will be. Motivation is often high if you have invented something yourself. So invent it together.

3. There is no clear or easy path. A clear path is about technology that is easy, not frustrating. It is also about easy ways of fitting the use of technology into routines. If it is not easy enough people will get discouraged. I got myself a new banking Reader and had my own moment of desperation. this old system was already hard. For a week it lay on my desk but I could not motivate myself to start using the new reader. Yet, when I had tried the new reader, I was euforic! It was a lot easier than the old reader. Another good example shared during the teamhackathon: every communication officer sends one tweet per day. Now that's a clear path. That's difficult to miss. :) If only it is clear why and the elephant is motivated.