Two of the main hot topics at the moment are L&D capability and MOOCs. I wanted to share some of the work I’ve been doing where we’ve used one, to help solve the problem of the other.
Towards Maturity’s Modernising Learning, and Kineo’s Learning Insights are just two of a number of recent articles which refer to a skills gap in learning – for both traditional L&D skills, but also in creating blended and digital content.
There’s also an acknowledgement that a lot of what gets built as eLearning isn’t very good (okay, most of it is probably rubbish). And, that we rarely have the time to invest in our own development.
Take that issue and put it into my organisation. We have the challenge of designing, pretty much from scratch, operational training for all the business functions. There will be a whole new group of people with limited or no L&D experience, looking at not only how to identify the performance and skills gaps, but also selecting and designing the appropriate solution to fix these.
So a colleague and I have been asking how we can help them. How can we upskill these colleagues to create blended learning and design great solutions? How can we help them do this quickly, learning at the point of need, and ensure that we get quality learning for the business?
Linda and I’s answer has been to pull together a Trainer excellence programme that focuses on scoping and design of learning. Core to this design has been a desire to practice what we preached. To look at resources not courses. To deliver a blended programme to help colleagues learn for themselves, and to reduce the face to face style typically used internally.
Heavily influenced by the great experiences I’d had last year on the #dcurate and #learnov8 MOOCs run by @MOOCpro, we wrapped our programme in a MOOC format, using curatr.
Through this platform, learners can access elements of games based learning (points and badges), a self-directed and social platform to access resources and a format which can support their learning as they design materials for their audience. This gives them exposure to the different elements of 702010, looking at the social and on the job opportunities for the business, as well as formal interventions.
We ran each topic – scoping, design, and evaluation – over a month, run largely online but with webinars and face to face when it fit with the content.
Is it a true MOOC? Probably not. It’s not massive. We’re deliberately limiting the audience size, as there is still some face to face and webinars where we want to encourage synchronous social interaction, and because as we contribute to the discussion thread, we need to manage the amount of time we spend on it! Our content is split into sections or levels, each of which must be passed with an activity that pulls together what the learner has been covering (usually in the context of the project they are working on), which we are also assessing – so we need to be able to manage marking the homework!
It’s not open either; it’s by invite only at this stage, so we can monitor (loosely, it’s not about tracking) which of the operational trainers have been through the content.
But it is an online course which encourages learners to dip in and out, and provides certification at the end of it, if that’s a driver. The course is driven by the learners and their social interaction; our comments are there to support and coach.
Our initial pilot ran from July to September with 10 L&D colleagues. Most were experienced facilitators, but who had never designed training from scratch. We had some great conversations taking place on the site, and some clear changes in behaviour with those who really took the programme to heart.
Motivation. 50% completed the course. Those who finished did seem to be more motivated. I’m not sure that all on the pilot wanted to learn more about these skills, as some were volunteered for it. With some of the facilitators (where it was all they knew), there was a clear resistance to doing anything differently. Despite the fact it be more effective, and could save time and money.
Style: MOOCs are a step change in learning practices for a traditionally face to face organisation. It was clear that a couple of colleagues didn’t seem to embrace the concept of self-directed learning, and still would rather have had it delivered in a classroom. It’s also why we still factored face to face and webinars as part of the blend, to keep this connection to the traditional, but putting it into a more “modern” learning blend.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those who were less motivated, who struggled with this self-paced learning, also are continuing to design poor, dull, (face to face) learning.
Competition: Games based learning elements definitely added something to the learning experience. When we kicked off the session many of the pilot group expressed reservations that points seemed mercenary, and that they weren’t a driving factor. As soon as they started the course that did seem to change, with flurries of interaction as their competitive streaks came out and tried to get to the top of the leader board.
My favourite story is about the person who embraced the course the most (and came top of the leader board). At our kick off session, there was gentle ribbing of one of the training managers, who was deemed the “dinosaur”, technophobe and the person least likely to complete it. The fact was that person embraced the course, was consistently at the top of the leader board, beating her co-workers. She was motivated.
So what next?
We’re reshaping the content to try and make it work even better with the next group who will be starting at the end of January (we’d have run it sooner, but life/work got in the way).
We’re also looking at getting the course accredited so that there’s an extra motivational factor and some tangible reward for colleagues going through this.
We’re going out to the next group of keen participants. We can still cover more colleagues than with traditional classroom based learning but demand will continue to outstrip our ability to run the programme alongside our other work. We’re going to focus on the most motivated colleagues first, and alongside the other changes we make to the programme, try and work on the scarcity factor.
We’re also factoring in more set up work around what participating on the programme means in terms of self-directed learning, but also we’re going to grow the group size.
Finally the programme will ultimately be broadened to also look at trainer delivery skills and eLearning design, for those who are tackling that internally.