Formal education is the signal amongst a sea of information. It is the expedited version of “googling”, the prioritizing of the most critical nuggets, and learning at it’s most efficient (and cost-effective depending on your medium)… from one person’s perspective - the instructor’s.
If I were ever to teach a class (which I’ve been known to do on occasion), I would preface the session with an ask of my audience-to-be.
Go out and find your first ten percent.
How much fun would it be if everyone came to my training with a variety of their own nuggets? What if the class had all managed to successfully navigate their way past the first ten percent that is awareness? How much time would we save? How much more interesting would the learning be?
Coming to class ready has never been easier. If you have the chance to teach, try pointing your audience to these 5 resources before your first face-to-face. It help ensure you’re all starting from the same informed place (the first 10%).
- Delicious.com - This is probably my foremost way of finding out what the world thinks is interesting based on the keywords I’m about to learn. If I’m teaching a class on social media best practices, I’ll type “social media learning” into this tagging engine and instantly see a community of bookmarked pages from around the world.
- Seek Out Discussion Forums - These are not your graveyard forums of 5 years back when the only people “discussing” were the early adopters and desperate answer seekers. Today’s forums are vibrant, insightful and full or diversity.
- Wikis - Start one. Make it home base for your learners. Allow them to contribute links, thoughts, and make new pages - try to keep it as open-ended as possible. Wikis are so easy that anyone can pick it up (no training required).
- Create a Hash Tag on Twitter - A hash tag is when you end a twitter post with something of a category i.e. #inaug09. This allows all your learners to do a search based on this hash tag and essentially read a real time feed of what everyone is thinking on the topic leading up to the training. It will become a better version of “chat” in that you can embed links and move the conversation in and out of the larger Twitter community.
- Google Alerts - Why search the web for relevant news and trends when Google can do it for you. If you set an alert for keywords surrounding your topic, they will get delivered to your inbox at whatever frequency you’d like to see. This will ensure everyone is “in the know.”
For most IT Managers, the thought of scheduling volumes of IT professionals into classroom ITIL courses is unthinkable and not practical. This feeling may be grounded in environmental concerns or travel logistics. It may be grounded in budget issues - at $1500 to $2000 per person, ouch. It may be grounded in time allocation concerns - 3 days out of the office, yikes.Â Â Or, it may be grounded in results - do people really retain much after 3 days of boot camp style ITIL Foundation training?
More likely your concerns are grounded in most of the above.
To start, I would suggest that you need to get EVERYONE speaking the same language. From the front lines up to the Executive, a simple interactive ITIL awareness module, easily distributed (and tracked) across your entire IT organization. Keep it to 30 minutes or less, and it needs to be engaging, considering the nature of the topic. All too often online learning is not much more than a manual in electronic format. Search for the best!
From there, your education plan may target those that require a more in-depth understanding of the ITIL processes. Consider a blended approach. It may be viable for some learners to spend the 3 days in a classroom. However, for large IT enterprises with a high volume of learners needing to be ITIL Foundation certified, an interactive online program, easily distributed around the globe may be the order of the day. To add a live instructor component, this virtually-trained group may benefit from organized, live exam-prep sessions with a certified instructor. Again, this could all be done virtually, or schedule into a classroom.
Other supplemental resources could include global discussion forums bringing together learners who are simultaneously preparing for the exam. In addition, study notes exist to assist the learners.
And donâ€™t forget about the tools. Your tool/systems training should be a blend of process and tool training. These are not mutually exclusive, yet most organizations train the tool outside of the processes (and visa versa). Integrate the learning strategy.
Avoid the “bums in seats” mentally that so often prevents sustainable, green and cost-effective learning. Implement a blended “virtual” model for education and you are on your way to strategy that aligns with todayâ€™s buzz: Itâ€™s Green. It Costs Less. Itâ€™s Less Time Intensive. Itâ€™s Sustainable (a Corporate Education must). And as more and more IT shops embrace the virtual employee, you will be ahead of the curve and ready.