Do you ever find yourself feeling conflicted when you review end-of-course feedback only to discover that despite your masterful design and engaging delivery, it's "meeting/networking with peers" that gets the highest ratings?
People love the connections they make with others during training... whether it's commiserating over shared problems, collaborating on improvements, or just jointly trying to make sense of the chaos that is their daily lives.
Friends are made, networks are established, and everyone leaves with the best of intentions to stay in touch. Then participants return to real life and the commitments to follow up on learning or maintain a learning network become as lost as their desks under the mound of work awaiting them.
A technology-enabled approach to follow up on learning
Learning and development departments aspire to bring participants back together and create learning networks, but often fall short because resources are tight and demands continue to expand.
But in recent months, many organizations have been experimenting with a technology-enabled approach to follow up on learning, leverage the networks formed during training, and extend the impact and ROI of the training.
This approach, which I like to call a "twee-union", is a very focused Twitter chat. If you're not familiar with the process, here's how it works:
- The facilitator invites training graduates (or participants in a learning experience that occurs over several sessions) to come together online at a particular time.
- They log into the chat, using a hashtag that creates a shared space.
- The facilitator types in a question and participants enter their responses (with tweet-style brevity.)
- Participants see who else is participating and interact with each other, retweeting comments, building on the thoughts of others, and adding their own experiences and perspectives.
- After about 5 minutes, the facilitator types in another question and the process continues.
If you've not experienced a Twitter chat, you'd be surprised at the depth of these silent conversations (that are advanced in messages that have140 characters or less!).
Through these chats groups can explore what they've learned since leaving the training, report progress on their plans, share challenges they've encountered, and offer additional insights around the original training content.
They learn from, are supported by, and get to reconnect with their original workshop colleagues while refreshing key topics and action commitments.
A twee-union Twitter chat on leadership might look like this
A "twee-union" for a leadership session, for instance, might include questions as simple (and powerful) as:
- What does leadership mean to you today?
- How is your understanding of your role as a leader different than when you attended the workshop?
- What are the greatest challenges you're facing to implementing a new approach to leadership?
- What's one way that you've put what you learned in the workshop to good use?
- Why do your employees need you to adopt a new approach to leadership?
- What's in it for you to lead differently?
- What one piece of advice do you have for others trying to improve their leadership?
- What one thing will you do tomorrow to be a better leader ?
Give learning participants a sensible way to reconnect with others
The advantages of a "twee-union" Twitter chat are obvious when it comes to building your learning network.
- It's quick: you can cover a lot of ground in 30-60 minutes. It's energizing: fingers fly as participants share their perspectives, provide advice to colleagues, and retweet comments that resonate for them.
- It ensures accountability and engagement: participants can't go off and fold the laundry because their absence is obvious.
- And it's cost-effective: no travel, no materials, and limited design and preparation.
There are a few tools out there that support hosting and participating in a Twitter chat. TweetChat is one of the most popular ones but tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite can also accommodate this form of learning follow-up.
Alternately, you could retool or modify the chat pods that are a standard feature in most webinar and virtual classroom platforms to work in much the same way. And many organizations have internal systems that allow for this sort of real-time, text-based, group conversation.
The specific tool you use is less important than giving learning participants a sensible way to reconnect with others and with the content. A "twee-union" is a non-threatening, energizing, and doable way for any training and development department to increase the return on its investment in workshops.
At the same time it can help you build a culture of collaboration and continuous learning... while giving participants more of that networking experience they consistently rate as the "best part of this training."
Your turn: Have you participated in a Twitter chat before? Have you considered this channel as a way to foster continuous learning with training participants?