Over 100 people shared practical insights at OEB Berlin – here’s what we found out.

People came together yesterday at the Business EDUCA stream within Online Educa Berlin, to tackle the issue of how to support learning in the workflow. This was a crowdsourcing session facilitated by myself and Charles Jennings to enable us to reflect on what we’d learned so far and to draw on the experience within the room, to help each other solve outstanding business challenges.
Participants discussed practical ideas around 4 big questions.
How did it work? 
We divided into 4 groups – each one was provided with a question to research within the room.
Each of us then participated in a series of short, one-on-one interviews with members in other groups. It provided an opportunity to ask colleagues about their perspectives and experience on each question.
After 3 rounds of questions, each time meeting someone from a different group, we gathered together with our original group members to compare the answers.
Between us in each group, we had gathered the opinions of 75% of the room on our specific topic and we consolidated our findings to present back to the rest of the participants.
It was a powerful learning and networking experience, carried out at speed, with lots of new ideas, sources of research and case studies generated through the process.
Below are the crowdsourced ideas from our discussions – we hope you find them helpful:

Q1: How do we get manager and team leader buy in to support workplace learning?

  • Focus on what is important – the door opener is better performance – sell the value of workplace learning
  • It’s more than better performance; also promote the impact of better cooperation, knowledge sharing and culture change
  • Co-Learning – have managers take part in the learning process:
    • Ask leaders what they want to learn and make them the source of knowledge
    • Use what managers know and what they can do in the learning process
    • Show leaders that they have influence over what and how they learn – model the impact of 70:20:10 in their own development
    • Help them to facilitate change; equip them with tools to encourage learning in the workplace
    • Listen to their feedback and include their ideas
  • Managers need hard data to demonstrate usefulness. Share stats with them (e.g. profit , loss, attrition rates, engagement) and best practice from other organisations including their competitors, to help convince them (check out the impact indicators in the 2014-15 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study)
  • Help your managers implement 5.0.5: Encourage them to spend 5 minutes outlining performance expectations with staff prior to attending learning, 0 minutes while their staff are training and 5 minutes afterwards to discuss, “how can we support you and put this into context?”
  • Communicate!

Q2: Are there easy ways that technology can help extend learning at work?

  • Use technology to personalise learning in content in a context and form to help individuals learn at their own speed and at the speed of business
  • Model co-operation with peers in formal learning to encourage it in the workplace
  • Use tools such as wikis, blogs, mind maps, forums and webinars, but help staff to know what to do with them
  • Don’t forget the obvious – Skype, phone, WhatsApp, YouTube!
  • Be clear on what you expect – bad communication can hamper success
  • Provide clear access to experts in the organisation; does anyone know who and where they are?
  • Find out where staff are already gathering online, then use the platforms they are familiar with to connect with and support them.
  • Create virtual communities to support learning application, in real-time, within the workplace. Use them to provide feedback on progress so far
  • Encourage staff to use their own mobiles to record content in context, using video to capture experience, ideas and feedback
  • Remember that technology alone is not the solution – there has to be a process behind it
  • Use apps to support workplace performance

Q3: Have you seen greater learner engagement in social and experiential learning?

  • Case 1. New platform that Learners can use: ‘I have a problem, I ask a question, crowd provides an answer and feedback is rated.
  • Case 2. BT’s Dare to Share project (see below) but don’t forget to review technology regularly – it’s the community that counts, not the platform.
  • Case 3. Group activities were designed into the learning experience, supported by technology tools, that allowed learning together to be extended once staff are back at work
  • Case 4. Tricks for engagement include ensure subject and context are relevant ( learners need the will to collaborate and share) and facilitate social media, with so many tools , people can often get lost.
  • Case 5. Dixons Retail (see below) – stores that encouraged staff to share great sales tips sold more!


Q4: What are the key skills needed by L&D professionals to engage & support learning beyond the course?

  • Be open to new ideas – L&D pros. need to recognise that learning takes place all the time, not just when we are present!
  • L&D pros. evolve from being instructors to coaches, mentors and co-learners
  • Foster a culture of learning; an environment of trust needs buy in from top management, which requires good influencing and listening skills at all levels
  • Being very good communicators; we need to understand the importance of learning beyond the classroom and be able to articulate that in clear, relevant language. We also need to learn to communicate well online.
  • We need to be able to understand business needs; L&D pros. are often mechanical in their approach to sourcing solutions, rather than clarifying the need.
  • Learning design; we need to be able to understand how to blend different media and methods of learning to achieve the goal.
  • The ability to foster collaboration is critical
  • Curation skills are essential
  • The ability to articulate the impact of new models of supporting learning at work

Is there anything else you’d add?

Bring your views to this crowdsourcing exercise in Towards Maturity’s LinkedIn group.


Recommended reading:

From Towards Maturity:
From Charles Jennings:

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