Personal Fit Learning “To Go”

When someone realizes that she needs to actively seek out learning to complete a task, the most natural behavior is to find the shortest path to competency. This makes some learning professionals and subject matter experts nervous. After all, how can someone learn something properly without completing the entire course/program/degree?

The truth is that we do this all the time without even realizing we are learning. Watching a YouTube video to learn the proper way to peel and slice a mango, asking a question on a software user group board, or signing up for a class are all examples of learners determining the right amount of learning for the task. It’s learning-to-go that fits the learner’s personal need.

Recently in Chief Learning Officer magazine, Elliot Masie compares this concept to ordering in a coffee shop. Customers have an amazing range of choices and customize the order to their taste and current caffeine requirements. We implemented a similar concept at work about three years ago with our company culture curriculum. We targeted employees and managers who wanted to refresh on the culture topics. We developed our “Culture to Go” concept using a cheesy take-out menu format to make it fun.

  • Appetizers are short activities, articles, or assessments for individuals or teams to get a quick refresh. They can be completed in about 15 minutes and could easily be an agenda item for a staff meeting.
  • Entrees are meatier activities with a facilitator guide. Managers could run these activity at a longer face-to-face meeting or as a stand-alone training.
  • Desserts are the “icing on the cake”. These are deeper-dive activities to become more expert on the topic.

We publicized the series at Career Days across the US at all of our major campuses. Managers loved it. They told us that it was nice to have a quicker option than sending an employee to a half-day or full-day training. They actually used it and gave us great feedback. We decided that going forward we would create to-go options for any course we developed. Many of these to-go options were housed in an on-the-job-support wiki with an easy to remember goto/ redirect URL. A goto/ URL inside our firewall is similar to tinyurl, but instead of being random you pick the keyword. For example, I could pick goto/learningtogo to redirect to this blog post.

Below is a mock-up of the menu we did for the Constructive Confrontation topic. It includes virtual options for globally dispersed teams. Links have been removed since it can’t be accessed outside the firewall. Click the image to see the full document.

Here is another one we did for the Performing to Company Values topic.