Lately there’s been a real push at work to consider alternatives to delivering facilitator-led programs into online formats. There’s various reasons for doing so but the main ones are to make our content accessible to our interstate colleagues.
Another reason is that an impending move to new building does not guarantee that we’ll have our sophisticated classrooms anymore. Fortunately, this ensures that we don’t become complacent and offer an immediate learning solution as being facilitator-led classrooms – because there won’t be any.
Last year, I developed a blended Instructional Skills Coaching program that provided skills to subject matter expert coaches to instructionally coach a skill, task or work process on-the-job taking into account adult learning principles. One component of this program was where I facilitated a “demonstration the skills coaching” so that the participants could watch, observe and learn the process and then have an opportunity to practice this on a work process on a colleague under workplace conditions.
I’m now in the process of developing this program into a fully blended program (minus the faciliator-led workshop) that uses:
- Pre-virtual classroom activities;
- A “Learn How to Learn Online” Course [for those participants who have never used Webex or any virtual classroom technology so that they are comfortable with the tools];
- Virtual Classroom using Webex to teach the theory of Instructional Coaching;
- Video Conferencing (where participants will view a facilitator demonstrating the coaching process in real time on a volunteer and will allow for two-way communication);
- Supplementary video podcasts of each phase of the Coaching model that can be viewed at any time as a memory jogger;
- Post-workshop activities that involve practice coaching sessions with real life work processes on the job conducted as peer reviews;
- Observation by a Team Leader with a debrief using an On-the-Job Checklist and finally,
- Create a Coaching Schedule Plan where the participant (in conjunction with their team leader) create a plan of how and what they will coach on-the-job.
In effect, any SME across the organisation will receive a “Pathway” where all the above activities are undertaken in order to reach a level of proficiency for on-the-job coaching.
In the future, I’m also contemplating of including a ‘Social’ element to it to create a body of SMEs who can share their experiences and learning through a social site such as Yammer.
But one step at a time…
The program was implemented across one business unit for a Transformation Project of the company I am currently working for as a solution that many teams were not cross-specialised.
Although this is not a ‘quick fix’ solution (and I have to continually remind Team Leaders that this course does not make their team members instant experts in work processes overnight and that there is a level of commitment, on-the-job coaching and performance support required), the results were that within three months, many of the teams had substantially cross specialised within their teams to the point where team members were all at the same knowledge and skills as each other.
One of the unexpected benefits was that team members started talking, collaborating, sharing ideas with each other because not only was their job role expanded but they saw their work in context to the ‘bigger picture’ of the work flow.
The program was successful so now it will be rolled out across the entire enterprise as part of the Specialist Coaching curriculum.
But I can’t leave well enough alone and I’ve started tinkering.
Over the last few days, I have been creating the fully blended program and admittedly enjoying the design of this course into a virtual classroom.
Usually in this case, my process is use the existing material from the Facilitator-Led workshop and redesign for online. The objectives and requirements are still the same but although it involves a lot more co-ordination to create the blend, I believe it has a real mix of activities but more importantly, lots of on-the-job performance practice and support tools.
I have completed the e-Facilitator Guide (I start from here first); then designed my slides in Powerpoint and now, I am creating the Participant Workbook. Afterwards, I go back to my e-Facilitator Guide and finalise it by inserting page number references and doing a final check over the whole lot.
My plan is to run this virtual classroom with my fellow L&D colleagues pretending to be participants as my pilot who can provide me with some comments. It’s also an opportunity to inspire them to learn more about the virtual classroom tools and to get them to undertake a virtual classroom design course so that they can consider how interactive and engaging they can make their own facilitator-led content.
Virtual classrooms are going to be a stretch for this particular business unit who has only had facilitator-led workshops for training in the past; and at best, despise e-learning as their only experience is completing mandatory online compliance courses. This will be one step towards dispelling the myth that ‘online’ learning is bad and that they are page turners only.
For our interstate colleagues, I know that they will enjoy this learning because they don’t have to feel neglected or forgotten anymore.
Back to work now…