We are pleased to bring you a guest blog post today from one of our customers, Bruce D. Smith, Corporate Manager, eLearning, at Emerson Electric Co. Bruce will be a speaker at SkillSoft’s 2012 Annual Perspectives User Conference. Bruce facilitates classroom-based events, oversees the use of elearning from an enterprise perspective, and runs the Emerson Learning Center’s Studio8000 video production studio. He has been in the training and development (T&D) field for more than 20 years, and has followed what he calls a “pinball-style” of career management with experience in private non-profit social work, the airline industry, computer programming, accounting management, Quality Management, and of course T&D.
By Bruce D. Smith, Corporate Manager, elearning, Emerson Electric Co.
You can fill in the blank of the title’s question with a host of alternatives you’ve heard within your own organization. Or perhaps you’ve asked the question yourself.
When our SkillSoft representative showed the Emerson Learning Center staff at Emerson Electric Co. in St. Louis, Missouri the things that SkillSoft’s Leadership Advantage could do and was planned to do, we were excited about the possibility of adding it to our list of SkillSoft offerings. But how could we distinguish it from the other libraries of elearning courseware we already subscribed to without cannibalizing from our current user base?
Enter the concept of a BLENDED LEARNING proposal.
The term “blended learning” means many things to many people, so first we had to define it for our own purposes. We decided to blend an elearning experience into a live face-to-face classroom event. We were already rewriting our Supervisory and Management leadership class, but we were puzzled how to cover MORE topics in LESS time while keeping learners engaged. We also needed something that learners could access before and after the class for on-going learning.
So how does Leadership Advantage help?
Leadership Advantage is rich with articles, case studies, videos, book summaries, and many more relevant resources that fit perfectly into our curriculum. But that wasn’t the best part. Our new “Leadership Competency” based classroom experience was an easy match to the multiple competencies covered by Leadership Advantage.
So how do we get started?
As with any new rollout we started with a pilot. The idea of having learners in a Leadership program actually log in to an elearning option while sitting in a physical classroom seemed a little odd, not just to us but to participants, too. We had to overcome a few technical hurdles, negotiate a change in our contract with SkillSoft, and finally make sure that attendees to the class had access to an internet-enabled PC during the class. (By the way, that last one was a bigger challenge than we first thought!)
Despite some on-going technical considerations, mostly of our own making, participants overwhelmingly approved the classroom use of Leadership Advantage.
So how do we execute?
As with any multi-day classroom event, the time immediately after lunch is challenging to maintain interest and engagement. Activities are a great answer to the after-lunch “food coma,” as long as they are meaningful. Our class size is limited to sixteen participants. They are divided into four teams, and Leadership Advantage allows us to make team assignments on relevant topics we covered earlier in the day. Each team member with a PC takes a section from their assigned topic. Then they share what they learned with their team. The class resumes with a presentation on key learning points from each team. Class members literally teach each other.
How do they like it?
Nearly all attendees say they enjoy it. Common replies are:
- It was a great change of pace
- I HAD to learn what my section was because I had to report back on it
- I really got a lot out of the videos, readings, case studies, and so on
- It was short enough not to be boring, and long enough to give good information
- Now I know how to go back and review or get more information on this after class
Seriously, that last one has been repeated many times by several attendees!
Participants continue to access Leadership Advantage after the class ends. We have nearly an 80 percent return rate of class members who go back to Leadership Advantage on their own. Once people overcome the unknowns of elearning, most keep coming back for more.
Want to know more? I welcome questions and comments, and I’ll present our story at the SkillSoft 2012 Perspectives conference.
To register for the 2012 Annual Perspectives User Conference please visit: http://perspectives.skillsoft.com/2012/?srcid=blog