A Collaborative Community Can Revolutionize Workplace Training

Posted: May 15, 2013 by Bill Marker in DIY Training
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There are some great insights for employee training that you can gain from developments in general education….

Consider the results of MIT’s radical decision to freely share lecture videos along with all related course materials ten years ago.  MIT’s 10-year-old OpenCourseWare (“OCW”) community now teaches every core class included in its undergraduate course catalog.  OCW has reached more than 100 million learners. 

Now, consider the decision of a young hedge fund analyst four years later to start a one-man academy to educate his nephew on high school subjects – his lessons became viral and his new learning paradigm may provide the impetus to change American K-12 education forever.  Khan Academy, a non-profit started by this selfless person has taught over 200 million 10-minute lessons in math, science, finance and humanities during its six years of existence.

These two revolutionary initiatives created huge collaborative learning communities that now expect high-level, free or low-cost online education.  They have incredible momentum and are transforming the way every nation educates its citizens.  OCW has been joined by 250 other universities and Khan Academy has inspired thousands of volunteer instructors, technicians, and private and corporate financial supporters.

The world is witnessing not only the transformation of education, but a transformation of the meaning of “community.”  There are reports of some college courses being taken by 100,000 students at the same time and all around the globe.  Learning is increasing exponentially and life is changing forever!

So, what’s going to happen when people educated in these communities feel empowered to start their own businesses or become responsible for business training?

Don’t you think they will want to use some of this newer education technology and train their employees differently than we do now?  On the job training (OJT) will never be the same!

It will take only a few enlightened and determined individuals to get the same transformation started in workplace learning.  Collaborative business communities will become powerful.  

How will we, educated by the old system, take advantage of this new market culture and help jump-start a new era of workplace learning?  Let’s get started together… now!

Don’t you sometimes check YouTube to see if there’s a video about fixing something around the house or with your car? Why not apply this concept to business training?  There are millions of smartphones and inexpensive digital cameras to help us. We can create short videos quickly to teach the policy elements, key values, unique concepts, job tasks, and procedure steps comprising the value our organizations offer our customers.

Some learning is common to multiple organizations and not subject to proprietary concerns.  Examples might be:  counting change at a cash register; cleaning a toilet; scanning a document on your favorite copier or scanner; using a certain model IP telephone.  Examples are endless!  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could adopt a video that someone else has already developed?

That’s what I’m talking about.  Businesses need a way to improve their efficiency by using videos that are developed using standards and someone to coordinate the whole process.  I haven’t seen as many short workplace training videos on YouTube as I have expected so something is holding this back.

It seems that a collaborative community of DIY (do-it-yourself) training producers could divide the work of building libraries of non-proprietary training.

I’m not suggesting competitors should be sharing information about proprietary processes and practices. To the contrary, the need to protect proprietary information has never been greater, and it has never been more difficult to do so.  But certainly it can be done, perhaps through this collaborative business community I’m suggesting.

A great example is the American farming community.  For over a century, farmers raising the same crops have formed cooperatives for many purposes when it was clear that they had many of the same needs and outsiders weren’t interested in helping.  So, why not today’s business community?

When organizations can capture and package their best practices and special know-how as simple, standardized building blocks of learning, our efforts will make a huge impact.  You would think that small businesses everywhere,  not to mention organizations like the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Warehousing Education and Research Council, and  National Restaurant Association, all real interested in the success of their industries, would jump on board quickly.

There’s a lot to think about.  In future posts, I will propose how this training can be easily structured so it can be quickly developed by a non-training professional.  I will also propose standards for this new kind of private enterprise collaborative learning.

But my ideas are still forming and there’s plenty of opportunity for you to collaborate and help mold the results.   Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section of this post.

  1. […] Technologies.  YouTube is the trusted source for allowing members of our community to share, collaborate and connect to each other.  Mastery Technologies serves as the curator for protecting the community content […]

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