Our Best Advice About Getting Ready for Online Learning, Meeting, Teaming, Collaborating, or Building an Online Community
Did You Know?For several years now, learners have been participating in online courses. But until recently, it was difficult to get teachers and trainers to do their own continuing ed that way. The tide seems to be turning though. Case in point, we recently completed a 12-week program for Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning Division, in which we delivered training from Northern California to 160 instructors scattered across British Columbia — 100% online. Participants and decision makers were thrilled (see testimonial to the right).
3 Essential Prerequisites for Project Success
The best strategic consulting advice we can offer is just this: For a project to get off the drawing table and into the pipeline, it must qualify with at least these three prerequisites:
- Executive level sponsorship.
- Resource allocation.
- Stakeholder inclusion.
No matter how badly needed, no matter how clever the anticipated outcomes, without these three fundamentals, no project has a chance to even launch let alone reach completion.
Executive level sponsorship is required to avoid turf wars and provide permission for resource allocation.
Resource allocation makes sure the project will have a budget, staff and any tangible assets that are required.
Stakeholder inclusion increases buy-in throughout the organization, without which the project’s deliverables or recommendations will end up on a shelf or in a drawer.
Sponsorship and resources can be obtained through strategic conversations and negotiations.
3 Top Questions to Ask for Finding Solutions for Your Problems
Want to get people interested in the solution to your problems? Ask for ideas from those who will be the most effected by your project. Especially in any technology initiative to support collaboration, community, learning, teaming or meeting, ask stakeholders at least these three questions about the issue, challenge or problem you’re working on:
- What are you using or doing for that right now?
- What would you like to use or do for that in the future?
- What else is on your mind?
The first two questions encourage participation and yield answers that are
immensely helpful to the project.
The last question shows that you are listening and interested in what stakeholders have to say. No matter how you word the third question, respondents will tell you what’s on their minds. Asking these questions creates an experience of respect, openness and concern which has immeasurable long-term benefits.
In summary, what you need and what professional consultants can help you with are these 7 outcomes:
- Get buy-in from your decision makers.
- Identify and secure needed financing and other resources.
- Plan a pilot program to test and introduce your collaboration or learning initiative.
- Decide whether to create your own collaboration or learning space or purchase an off-the-shelf product.
- Choose and implement the right delivery options to meet your stakeholders’ needs.
- Plan an entire organizational “university.”
- Lay the foundation for an enhanced and expanded learning community or community of practice.
3 Top Tools for Taking Advantage of the Internet
The three top tools you’ll need to master to get you these results are :
Many leaders avoid these tools because they lack familiarity with how to make them do the work they are designed for. The judicious use of readiness and needs assessments is a critical hallmark of a professional consultant who can guide you through the right questions to ask and the right way to analyse the data. Assessments conducted by a professional can not only confirm that sufficient resources and support are available for your project, but they also can help develop your strategic plan so it remains in alignment with actual needs, not just the perceived.
Computers, teleconference equipment, learning management systems, course authoring software, collaboration tools, and purchase or development of training content—these are big-ticket items.
Find out what your people need, want, and are ready for—before committing to any of these tools and methods. The more you learn beforehand, the better equipped you will be to make great decisions and get great value from your investment.
Online polls, personal interviews, and focus groups do more than gather data. They engage and educate participants, shorten the learning curve, and increase “buy-in” by providing instant feedback of results. You can even maintain momentum with a follow-up discussion online. Increase survey participation even further with questions that are clear and appealing.
Online survey delivery simplifies data collection. Assessments before and after will satisfy number crunchers. Identify your next steps based on solid evidence and expert observations. The results will speak for themselves.
We recommend working with professionals (like us) who can back you up with years of experience in planning, organizing and executing:
- Needs Assessments
- Readiness Assessments
- Online Market Research
- Event Expectations Survey
- Telephone Interviews
- Focus Groups
- Ongoing Consultation
- Custom Online Surveying
- Spot Consulting for Smaller Problems
- Executive coaching or “On Call” Consulting
Need some help making your way through the quagmire of decisions you must make to choose the best solutions for your next cloud technology initiative? Find a professional you can trust and take advantage of their expertise. Focus first on the cloud tools currently available. Find out what they really do and how effectively they have helped other organizations improve communications, enhance productivity, and save money by making meetings more efficient, teams more effective, and training less costly.
Sure you can do it yourself or assign it to someone junior, but then you can’t take advantage of the breadth and depth of experience of someone who makes this field their primary focus. Just as you wouldn’t do your own surgery or assign it to someone at work, you shouldn’t make complex decisions about cloud-based or other Internet technology without help from an expert.
FutureU™ can help.
Strategy and Planning. Schedule a session with FutureU’s co-founder Claude Whitmyer. He’ll help point you in right direction, answer the most frequently asked questions, and support you in identifying and solving the issues that are unique to your organization and critical to your success. The first 30 minutes are at no cost or obligation to you. Contact us today and find out if Claude and FutureU are the kind of partners you’d like to add to your team.
Course Design Reviews. Claude can also provide a confidential written critique of the content and/or presentation of your own courses, with expert recommendations for design or content enhancements. The cost for these reviews can be kept minimal using email delivery, privately to your instructors or course designers. These reviews can be used to augment your own written evaluations, especially when time is at a premium.
Course Content Conversion. Want to offer your existing content by delivery in the cloud?
- Some organizations choose not to use valuable instructor time converting courses for Web delivery.
- Others find they have course start dates that demand rapid conversion to meet the deadline.
- Others still want one-to-one coaching for instructors or course developers, to rapidly build online courses or guide those new to online instruction through the facilitation and teaching techniques required to deliver pedagogically sound learning activities in a virtual or blended course.
- Another segment may want existing course content converted for online delivery. Our conversion services are virtual, working primarily by telephone, email, and discussion forum with each instructor or developer to convert their content to Web-readable formats.
- Yet another group can benefit from a Web-based training module (either self-paced or as the text of a face-to-face or online facilitated module) prior to the conversion process, so that course materials will be appropriately designed and organized for Web delivery.
There is no right way. Use your no-cost, 30 minute session with Claude Whitmyer to brainstorm which approach or combination of approaches will work best for you.
Contact Claude to set up your session.
Email: claude at futureu dot com
Use the FutureU Contact Form