Question 1: Describe an innovation you or your team have recently implemented involving experiential and/or social learning. What was the organizational challenge you were addressing?
The primary challenge that our company faces is that, like many organizations, we need to react to our environment quickly. Today’s opportunity or threat isn’t going to wait for us to implement a complex response and global rollout plan. Those days are over. If we can’t take advantage of an opportunity or react to a threat in real time, we lose the battle before we even get to the battleground.
In the learning world, this means that we need to distribute learning, tools, and solutions across the globe, almost instantaneously, in high quality. And… the content needs to be infinitely flexible, without compromising the content.
How’s that for a challenge?
Fortunately, the answer already exists, in the form of YouTube. Like most people, the majority of my best learning experiences over the past five years have come from watching videos on YouTube. Whether I was learning to use new software, clean my pool filter, or see how facilitators use the RACI model, YouTube has been my go-to resource.
Of course, YouTube has limitations. It’s not curated, so there’s a lot of terrible content. It doesn’t provide real-time feedback and coaching, so it’s not great for soft skills. Finally, short videos inevitably lack context.
So, in a nutshell, our learning challenge was this: How do you harness all the strengths of YouTube and implement it with context and coaching?
We decided to create a Digital Learning Center, or DLC, at KLA-Tencor.
Question 2: What was new and unique about this intervention? Describe the results.
What’s unique about our intervention is that our DLC was not designed to replace Instructor Led Training. Our ILT has been very successful for us. Strengths include:
- Instructors provide real-time feedback.
- Instructors personalize content for attendees.
- Instructors answer questions.
- Students have opportunities to practice.
- Students get to interact with others.
That said, we knew that ILT has many limitations.
- An instructor can only reach 20 – 40 students at a time.
- An instructor can only be in one place at a time.
- The experience varies. Every instructor teaches differently. Every audience is different.
- Instructors aren’t with you after class.
- Class is limited by artificial start and stop times (usually 4 or 8 hours).
- Most students won’t remember all of the content they learn.
- Every student is at a different starting point when they enter the room. Every class is, inevitably, too fast or too slow for every student at some point.
We decided to address the limitations, while keeping the strengths, by designing a Digital Learning Center that would become a centerpiece of our classroom. Each DLC channel recreates one of our Instructor-led workshops through a series of 3-7 minute videos. Each micro-video teaches one concept and then asks students to do an activity or exercise.
Now, when a student signs up for a workshop, they receive an invitation to the classroom, and to the DLC channel. They are asked to complete 2 video assignments as pre-work. Not surprisingly, many students watch more than 2 videos. Some even complete the course online.
We then use 4-6 of the videos in the classroom. This gives the trainer a rest, imprints the DLC on the students, and creates standard delivery of some of the more difficult sections of each class.
After class, we encourage students to use the videos as job aides, or share the videos with their managers, colleagues, and peers.
One other major difference between the DLC and YouTube is that each course has a terminal objective. If a student completes the terminal objective – which is usually a work product – they can submit it for review and certification from a member of the Global Learning team.
Additionally, every video provides a link to a coach, and a forum to ask questions of the coaches or community. We’re trying, as much as possible to simulate the classroom experience. The videos are subtitled in English, Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese – the primary languages of our business.
Question 3: What was your team’s greatest insight or learning from the experience?
What we’re experiencing from the roll-out is remarkable:
- Employees in remote regions are using the DLC to take classes they never had access to.
- Employees who are in our own HQ building are using the DLC to take classes at night, after they go home!
- HR Business Partners, managers, and employees are using the videos to teach concepts to their peers.
- Videos are being shown at offsite conferences, meetings, in one-on-ones, as well as in classrooms.
- We’ve received many requests for specific videos. In fact, we’ve turned around videos in less than 72 hours, to teach or reinforce an important concept around the world.
On the other hand, I have to say, designing for video is very different than designing for the classroom. There’s no margin for error in a video. The students can’t just raise their hand and ask a question. The trainer can’t see confusion in the student’s eyes. Content must be crystal clear.
We have learned a lot about script writing, on-screen delivery, and facilitation of videos. That said, our biggest learning is that, now, we start every learning design by asking what the end video will be. Whether the video ends up being the pre-work, the learning, or the reinforcement, I can’t imagine telling employees who use YouTube every day for learning that we wouldn’t be using it here.
Question 4: What advice would you offer others making the shift toward the 70-20 mindset and changing the workplace learning culture in their organizations?
Think about your learners. How do they normally learn? How do they learn to cook, to do house repairs, to be good parents and spouses?
Do they learn through CBTs? I doubt it.
Are they learning through 8-hour workshops? Not usually… and if they are, those workshops probably don’t look like yours.
Are they learning through web-ex? No, no, no…
They learn by asking friends, by teaching friends and children, by watching videos, and by trial and error.
How can you enable those same methods in the workplace? That’s your challenge.