I’m currently working with a client who needs to deliver the same online training program to two different audiences. The first audience is located in their US-based headquarters, the second audience is located in regional offices around the world.
The headquarters has a thriving community of practice for training alumni that meets regularly, in-person. Furthermore, the headquarters has a critical mass of people in this role who can see each other in the break room, daily meetings, the hallway or walking by one another’s desks for informal conversations about challenges and key learnings.
People in regional offices are a little more isolated when it comes to ongoing opportunities for informal learning that can reinforce the initial training. So what are regional and remote staff to do?
Online Communities of Practice
Technology offers a lot of opportunities to shrink the distance between people and allow for greater communication, yet the ability to seed an active online community of practice remains elusive to many organizations.
Articulate’s Storyline community is an example that anyone looking to develop a thriving, online community of practice would be well-served to observe and emulate.
Online Water Cooler
One of the things I thought I’d miss most when I transitioned from working in an office to working with a team that’s 100% virtual is the ability to just get up and walk to someone else’s desk to talk through a challenge or the ability to sit down with people in a lunchroom and find myself in the middle of a conversation that helped me identify learning needs or talk through a problem I’d been having.
It turns out I haven’t missed out on many “water cooler conversations” at all. Our team uses Slack, which we keep open all day.
We share information about our projects and even team members who are directly involved in certain projects can chime in and share their thoughts and ideas.
Though we only see each other a handful of times each year, having Slack open during our workday allows us to also engage in silly conversations, update each other on our weekends and entertain each other with animated gifs.
Meeting Face to Face
Remote meetings and conference calls allow many opportunities for “multi-tasking” (which often is code for not paying attention to whomever is speaking in order to catch up on email or Facebook messages).
Using the video feature on a tool like Zoom can help people who have gone through online training to connect faces with names and further develop relationships by ensuring everyone is present and paying attention during meetings.
Intentional, face-to-face interactions, a forum for constant informal communication and borrowing some ideas from organizations that have thriving communities of practice are three ways to keep virtual learning going long after the LMS says that someone has completed a course.
What are some ways you’ve kept the learning going after a course has been completed?