In the concluding chapter of this three-part blog series, I share the experiences and best practices received from individuals in my own Personal Learning Network (PNL). I also relied on crowdsourcing to seek input from various communities of practice comprised of individuals with an interest in the domain of learning transfer and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs). I have included the responses received, together with a summary of the key takeaways.
- If you have ever used an ESN as part of a learning program, what did the design look like?
- We used an ESN to push out instructional assignments and survey questions to learners via their mobile phones
- We use an app (Spot Me) that allows just-in-time networking and sharing before, during and after events.
- We run virtual classroom training programs with questions which are simultaneously posted to Yammer, where participants engage to respond. The App Share feature of the Virtual Classroom helps see live action, but most people are listening in Saba and typing in Yammer.
- We leveraged the Corp U platform to teach our Top 100 leaders of the organization on the updates and revisions of the Performance Management process.
- We use closed groups in Facebook for specific learning groups to allow participants to introduce participants to each other. It is fun to feel belonging to the community of people who come with different background but are on the same learning path as you
2. How did you use the ESN to drive knowledge retention?
- We push out program results and formal feedback to their mobile phones to improve retention and “on the job” skill sets post program.
- We give them ‘pokes’ to deliver on challenges where people create plans to apply what they have learned on the job.
- Before and after the course, faculty engage the participants in Yammer to ask what people want to learn on the subject, and how people are using the lessons on the job
- Videos were created to share content online and explain concepts and participants engaged with one another to draw on experiences and to share best practices. Some discussions were also leader led.
- Facilitators post questions to the group, and the group has to discuss and answer the questions as part of the learning process. The answers are then discussed in the class/online session (synchronous event). The online discussions were part of the learning experience.We bring the audience together in a plenary session and project their input/feedback in “real time” on a large screen using social media so learners can see the results and drive discussions in the learning environment.
3. What worked well?
- “Just in time” consistent messaging to promote learning discussions, level setting the group to the next phases of their simulated learning environment. Also, post program follow thru of the learning applying it on the job and the ability to track that feedback post program
- The use of the app is gamified in a number of ways so people collect points, teams collect stars etc.
- Fun Yammer interactions, i.e. sharing photos to follow up with stories shared during class, or just selfies from VC class time or weekend adventures
- Award points for discussions on Yammer
- Mobile access to the curriculum and discussion boards, as well as off line access which allowed those who travel to participate during their down time.
- Having a dedicated team member monitoring conversations and discussions daily was a benefit as participants knew that they will receive an answer promptly and also build trust in the accuracy and efficiency of information shared on the platform.
- Facebook has an informal flavor; it calls for informal chatter, which unites the human side of people. People are often curious to learn more about people, what other networks they belong to, especially in their area of interest. Yammer does not have this as it is focused on the corporate network. It is also important to get notifications when someone has posted something in the group, which keeps the engagement high.
4. What didn’t work well?
- The technology is not as effective as we would like. I think our desired use of the platform is ahead of its technical capabilities (for now).
- The retention and application of this type of design is difficult to measure
- Interaction from the faculty; it is easier to get them to involved during the actual training session, but not the follow-up session
5. What other tips and tricks do you have for driving the effective retention of knowledge?
- Put the responsibility back on the learner by having them create a performance learning progress plan and how it impacts their day to day on the job activities.
- Learning has to be integral to everyday life. It should be delivered through small, mobile-enabled bites and face-to-face practice programs that are all connected through the social networking app.
- Faculty need to be active social media users and understand how to help drive engagement.
- State what the purpose of using the platform is, as well as benefits
- Provide engaging content via an easy to use platform
- Provide gamification/incentives – who doesn’t like a healthy competition especially if there is a prize at the end
- Regular content quizzes (preferably designed by participants, though that may be hard to sustain) – who can resist a quiz?
- Allocate resources to ensure very active curation and management of the group in its early days to get people into the habit of sharing and collaborating after the event
- Include jokey/spoof articles like “What kind of coach are you – answer these questions and find out!”
- Listicles (e.g. “5 ways to actually incorporate feedback into your engagement”)
- Have participants contribute stories about the first time they have tried to implement a piece of learning – eg “My first fee negotiation – what I learned”
What do these best practices, tips and tricks tell us?
These experiences demonstrate that the traditional form of one-time event learning is all but over for the most forward thinking organizations. Learning leaders in such organizations are trying to maximize learning transfer by seeking new ways to maximize the retention and application of skills taught in live or virtual classrooms. Using ESNs before, during and after the ‘event’ would seem to be magic potion to allow program designers to follow the AGES model described in part two of this blog. Such a design, on paper at least, allows for the spacing and retrieval of content over time and reflection on personal experiences. However, the examples outlined here indicate that only partial progress has been made and that the experiences are mixed. In the absence of engaged faculty and moderators, the interest in the ESN-enabled activities quickly taper out and the possible benefits of ongoing networked-based discussions disappear. Corporate ESNs just simply do not have the ongoing appeal to contribute as other, more personal, networks such as Facebook. Gamification seems to help inject an element of fun and competition into the learning, but adds significantly to the efforts required by program sponsors.
To conclude this series, we have seen that ESNs are being increasingly used to maximize the retention and application of knowledge taught in classroom programs, however there is still a lot of progress to be made. Advances in cognitive and neurosciences are increasingly helping instructional designers increase the effectiveness of their learning designs, however additional research is required to understand how to motivate everyone concerned by a learning programs. Sponsors of such programs need to understand the benefits of prolonged investment after the conclusion of the event and equip their learning teams and faculty to continue the learning transfer. Participants and their managers must also understand the need to prolong and support the time spent on learning to achieve actual business results. That said, the increasing inclusion of ESNs into learning designs is a strong indication that there is hope yet for inverting the direction of Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve.