During September I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, when I ran an online workshop for the Sales Team at Pfizer India.
Early in August Sunder Ramachandran (@sundertrg on Twitter) asked me if I would run my 4-week online workshop, Integrating mobile devices into the classroom, for his team as they had just been given iPads. Around 25 people signed up, and Sunder kicked off the workshop on Wednesday 27 August with a conference call. During that call I explained that this wasn’t going to be a traditional online course. It would be hosted in a private group space on my social platform at the Modern Workplace Learning Centre (MWL), and each week I would release a set of activities together with tips and tools and links to external readings and resources. The participants would then be free to work on them as best suited them and fitted in with their workload – but that they were also encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences with one another. In other words, this was to be a guided social learning experience.
Most of the team had had very little experience with this type of learning experience, so Sunder decided to hold an additional weekly web conference, which would also help to consider the Pfizer organisational context. Sunder writes more about the rationale for organising the workshop in his blog post, Responding to the mobile first ecosystem.
So on Monday 1st September I released the first week’s activities. These were very simple activities to get the participants used to their new iPads. The first activity asked them to share a “selfie” in an icebreaker, and then in another activity I introduced the team to the concept of QR codes, and explained how to create and read QR codes using iPad apps. It wasn’t long before the participants began to upload the QR codes they had generated, and also to chat about how they could use them in their training activities. But what happened next was amazing. A couple of the participants decided to put what they had learned about QR codes into action straight away and organised a Treasure Hunt for a training session the very next day. They subsequently reported back on the event ..
“Treasure Hunt with QR code was a Fantabulous experience. We had several pit stops where different contents were assigned with QR codes. We could see all participants running around, scanning the codes with lot of excitement, enjoying every bit of it.”
Sunder himself watched the training session, and blogged about the use of QR codes himself, in Using QR codes to create an immersive mobile learning experience.
But this wasn’t just a one-off occurrence. Over the following weeks as I exposed them to more and more iPad apps and new training approaches, they first experimented with the new tools, and then quickly started to use them in earnest to create resources and activities for their upcoming training sessions. It was wonderful to see the members of the team blossom before my eyes, and put what they had learned into practice so quickly.
But another thing that really delighted me was the fact that the members of this team turned out to be natural social learners. They were quick to comment on each other’s work, to congratulate one another on their achievements, and to help each other out (both online and in person) whenever they had problems. There was also a continuous vibrant flow of conversation in the activity stream of the group space as the participants regularly chatted with one another – and in fact now that the workshop is over, the conversation continues.
So what made this social workshop so successful? Well it wasn’t just because they were using a social platform – although for sure it did help to underpin the social experience as the members of the group were based all over India. There were a number of reasons for this, which Sunder has talked about in his blog post, Driving engagement within social learning communities. However, I think it all boiled down to the fact that the organisational culture encouraged, supported and rewarded the team in their endeavours through learning and working from one another.
And what about the participants themselves, what did they think of the workshop? Well, a number of them recorded short “selfie” videos, which showed how valuable the workshop had been for them. Here are just 4 of the videos (sorry not to include more). First of all, here is Sanjay – who wants to be Jack of All Apps, Master of some and Emperor of One …
This is Sumanta talking about the A-Z of Social Learning …
Here is Arun, sharing his views on the workshop ..
And finally, here is Vidisha describing the “technology burst” and the importance of Unlearn – Learn – Relearn.
Once again, I’d like to thank Sunder for giving me the opportunity to work with him and his dedicated team, and to all the participants for their commitment to moving their training activities forward.
Finally, it just remains for me to say, if you would like me to run a social online workshop for your team, then just let me know.
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