Professional Inquiry Project

Description of Inquiry Project

Over the past several weeks, EDT 520 has really got me thinking about different ways of integrating technology into learning, specifically with adult learners. While I currently do not have a classroom of my own, I began thinking of the type of learning that could be implemented at my current workplace. I want to start my inquiry by asking the question,

How might we use technology to enhance learning in a corporate environment?

As we have discussed in previous weeks, adult learning and child learning have both similarities and differences, and it's important to know those differences, that way we can make sure that the learner is given the best opportunities possible in order to help them grow in a specific subject.

I ask this question to myself, my colleagues, and other coworkers of mine who directly work with and teach their peers on new technology being used in the workforce. Unlike a school, where there are set roles of teacher and student, the corporate world is not so defined with these teacher and student roles, so it's important for people in my role, who have a certain amount of technical knowledge, to learn and explore how to best interact with and teach adults.

Throughout this project, my goal is to take what we have covered in EDT 520 and begin to explore the importance of teaching adults, especially with the use of technology, and how to integrate this teaching and learning into a corporate setting. I hope to take this information and bring it to my own workplace, where we can one day implement my findings to help improve our corporate learning strategies.

Essential Course Question

The course essential question that I decided to focus on for this project is,

How might we use technology to enhance real world, collaborative, learner centered education?

It seemed like a perfect question for my situation because I want to focus specifically on real world collaboration, and a learner centered education.

We tend to tell younger students that "these skills will help you with real world experience," or "we want to prepare you for the real world." With adult learners, especially adult learners who learn in a corporate environment, they're able to experience real world scenarios everyday. By taking those experiences that they have, and using those experiences to help demonstrate new ways of learning, the adult learners will get a better idea of why they are learning something in the first place.

As I have mentioned in previous projects, most adult learners that I have worked with in the past, are either very eager to learn something, or they are not interested at all and just want a problem to be solved without learning how to do it themselves. Because I deal with such a wide spectrum of learners at work, it's important to understand the reasons why the learners react in this way. For some, their concerns are very time sensitive and they don't have time to learn it, while for others, they understand the importance of learning something because they know it will help them become more efficient with their time. While each person is different, my goal is to help understand adult learners better so the corporate learning environment can better suit their needs, that way they can continue to work and learn at the same time.

Course outcomes

While I looked through the course outcomes, there were two that stuck out to me as most relevant to my work in corporate learning. The first outcome was,

Demonstrate fluency with new educational tools, and articulate the affordances and constraints of such tools to support educational practice.

The reason I chose this outcome was because over the semester, we have talked about some great educational tools that can be used in the classroom. In a corporate environment, it can be very restrictive on which tools we can and cannot use. Because of these challenges, I have included some tools and resources that we have talked about which I know are allowed to be used in our corporate environment, and I also included some tools that have yet to be approved for use.

Microsoft. (2017). Office 365 [Online image]. Retrieved from https://products.office.com/en-us/business/explore-office-365-for-business

For example, our company has made a major push to Office 365, so it's important for me to work with and explore this tool, and to use it as an advantage because all employees already have access to this tool. While it can be helpful, it's also important to not ignore it's flaws, and to help find better solutions to fix anything that it may be missing.

It's important to take the tools that we have disused, and focus on them being used in a corporate environment. A classroom setting and a corporate setting can be very different, so knowing how to reassess these tools for a corporate workplace is very important if you want the tools to be effective and properly used.

The second outcome that I chose for this assignment was,

Articulate the difference between andragogy and pedagogy.

As you might expect, the reason that I chose this course outcome was because for a majority of our course, we have focused on student learning in the perspective of a child, but while focusing on differences of andragogy and pedagogy, we were able to dive into what it is like for an adult learner.

In a recent homework assignment, I went into detail about adult learners, and there was one quote that helped me understand the differences of child and adult learners. The quote goes on to say that,

Adults enter into education with a different time perspective from children, which in turn produces a difference in the way they view learning ... [adults] tend to have a perspective of immediacy of application, toward most of their learning. They engage in learning largely in response to pressures they feel from their current life situations” (Knowles, 1988. Pg. 53).

This quote stuck out to me because in a corporate world, these adult learners experience pressures every day from their teammates, projects, and superiors, and for a majority of the time, these learners learn solely to fulfill a need when working on completing a task. Instead of looking forward to the future of using a learned skill, they want to know how it will benefit them now. Unfortunately, it feels as if there is less curiosity among adult learners, and more of an urgency to learn a requirement, whether they're interested in it or not. This need for more curiosity, and more excitement in corporate learning, is what started my conversation with my manager about the idea of "20 percent time" in the workplace (Pink 2009, pg. 164).

[SHRMWeKnowNext]. (June 20, 2011). Shannon Deegan: How Google's 20 Percent Time Fosters Innovation. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/KwwdtQHqd9g.

By allowing employees to work on their own projects and ideas for 20% of their time each week, employees can bring back their curiosity and learn and explore ideas that they may have had for some time. After my conversation with my boss, he suggested that I share some resources and information with some other managers in our department, to see what they think, and he would like to propose that we implement "20 percent time" in our own area and try it out for at least a month. By having employees work on their own ideas, and collaborate with others, it will hopefully help foster a new interest in corporate learning.

Articles Found

Connecting Two Worlds: Collaboration between Higher Education and Corporate Learning

I found this article really interesting because it brought up some great points about how companies manage and keep track on what an employee has for knowledge. Further into the article, it gives great examples about how employees can interact and stay involved with students. The problem is that for some reason, universities and corporations rarely seem to be connected in any way. The article states that,

There are many similarities between the learning and technology challenges faced by IT directors at colleges and universities and those faced by their counterparts in corporate education. All are being asked to provide more agility for students and teachers with a rapidly changing technology base, the expanded consumerization of information technology, and more connected, more demanding learners.

It is thus exciting to think about a deeper connection between the IT functions of higher education and the IT functions of corporate learning. Higher education and corporate learning are ideal candidates for ongoing collaboration. Yet these two worlds are almost 99 percent disconnected (Masie, E., 2012).

The idea of having good connections with universities brings up two great points, the first being, as stated in the article, these connections would allow adults and students to interact more regularly, and it would allow them to learn from one another. The second, in my opinion, would be that as students move into a corporate environment, they will continuously be learning and collaborating with new ideas, and this will become part of the normal routine for them.

The article goes into depth about how universities and corporations can learn from one another, and I think that by providing real world experiences to students at an earlier age, they will be able to better relate and understand as they work towards deciding what they want to do once they get into the "real world."

A Case Study in Corporate E-Learning

This case study was a good reminder on what we need to focus on when working towards building a better online learning experience for my coworkers. While I want to focus on bringing more technology into the learning process, I also have to remember what this article points out. It states that,

Despite the benefits, some senior executives are hesitant to use e-learning as a tool to educate their employees. Some of the reasons for not using e-learning are its newness, a lack of knowledge about the learning tools, the upfront investment in the course content and learning management system (LMS), possible technology and connection issues, the lack of social interaction and faceto-face contact of e-learning and a general resistance to change due to fear of the unknown. In order to implement e-learning effectively, organizations need to understand these limitations and work out a plan to overcome these challenges as well as effectively embrace the advantages that e-learning can offer (Wong, A., 2015).

So as we continue to work on coming up with ways of improving training and learning in my company, we have to be cautious of addressing any fears that leaders might have, and we will need to make sure that we have all areas covered before moving forward with an idea.

Corporate learning: A knowledge management perspective

This article focuses on the importance of having well trained workers, and making sure that there is a good amount of training available to keep the workers up to date in what is going on. It provides great examples of resources that all types of employees need, and the article states that training doesn't just belong to the human resource department. The article states that,

That is why training is becoming more important: Organizations need to constantly upgrade their workers' skills, and training is considered a part of the company's knowledge. The key for success is to bring together training and knowledge management processes in order to build learning organizations that preserve, share, and efficiently organize training (Crocetti, C., 2001).

While it's important that we work on improving how we train and educate people at my company, this article is a good reminder that the quality and organization of the content is very important, and that in order to be successful, we need to make sure that we have plenty of training opportunities for all employees so they can continue to be knowledgeable and up-to-date with their skills.

Professional Growth

I recently moved into a new role at my company, and the new position that I am in allows me to better utilize my skills to help work towards answering my inquiry question. My new role allows me to explore new ways of improving employee productivity, and one of those ways, which I have spoken to my boss about several times, is improving the learning and training that is done in our department. While I have no final outcome at this time, I am happy to say that these opportunities, and this class has allowed me to explore this topic more than I imagined, and with the information and resources that I have gained, I am working towards implementing my ideas to see them in action. Due to being in a corporate setting, trying to implement these ideas takes months of planning and considerations.

While this work will need to be done in phases, I am glad that I get to do this in a "real world" setting. I have plenty of experience in how we currently train employees, and I am taking that experience, along with my new understanding of adult learning, and working with my team to come up with a plan on how we can better implement learning and curiosity into our department. I have two examples on how these ideas are starting to become apart of my daily work.

The first is my conversations I've had with my boss about this class and incorporating what I've learned into our workplace. In a previous job he was a teacher, and he understand the classroom dynamic. He agrees with me, and thinks it's a great idea that I want to incorporate technology into how we teach and train at work. He also loves the idea of "20 percent time" and thinks we should implement it to help spur innovative ideas.

Jones, C. (2017). Screenshot of Adobe Creative Cloud website. [Image, screen capture.]

The second is we are planning to become certified in Adobe Creative Cloud and this will give us a great foundation of information that we can bring back and teach our coworkers. By being certified in this suite of software, we can focus on ways to teach and train by covering some of the most used software in our department. These courses will be a great place to experiment with how we can deliver course content, and how we can help foster creativity in the department.

Log of time
DateDurationDescription
April 3rd2 HoursI used this time to go over and understand the project requirements as well as to begin working on my topic, and researching information about corporate learning.
April 6th1 HourI took some time at work to speak with my boss about our current corporate learning environment, as well as challenges that adults face when trying to learn at work. We talked about our current resources that we have, and resources that we would like to have, and finally we also spoke at length about "20 percent time" and how it would benefit our current workplace.
April 9th4 HoursI used this time to research and review articles that I would use for this assignment. The database website gave me some trouble for a little while, but I was able to get it working so I could access the resources that I needed.
April 10th7 HoursA good portion of this time was used to organize and finalize the bulk of my thoughts and findings. After finding articles and information needed for the project, I took this time to format it into this blog post.
Corporate & External Resources

Below I've listed a few resources that I have found while at work, and also while I researched about the topic of corporate learning.

Lynda.com
Lynda.com was something that I have heard about, but I had never used it until I began working at my current company. Lynda.com is an approved resource at my company that covers a lot of topics and interests. It's a great resource for someone who wants to learn something quickly, but it lacks collaboration.

Office 365
My company has been doing a large push towards using Office 365 and I'm excited about the new features coming to Office 365 because I think they can really help me as I work towards improving corporate learning. Some of the collaboration features of OneNote and the new service called Microsoft Teams will be very helpful when encouraging coworkers to interact and share ideas with each other.

20 Time in Education
This is a website I found while looking up some information on "20 percent time" in the workplace. I was interested to see it implemented in a classroom setting, and some of the information on the website was inspiring when looking at ideas and resources.

Google Classroom
We have certainly talked about this many times before in EDT 520, but I am really excited about the possibility of using this in a corporate setting. Now that it is freely available for anyone to use, I think it would be a great way to keep coworkers on track when working on corporate courses. My current manager is a big fan of Google Apps so we both enjoy Google products.

Next steps

While most of my inquiry project was exploratory, due to limitations and time constraints on what can be done in a corporate environment, I'd like to take my learnings from both the project, and from my past experience in a corporate environment, and begin to apply this project idea in three different ways. The first way would be to apply different methods of learning to existing models used at the company now. For example, our current trainings and "lunch & learns" could use more structure and uniformity to make them better suited for learners. The second way, would be to develop a new and more modern learning approach, where employees could take part in their learning online, and this learning could span weeks or months as they interact with co-workers and take part in online discussions and projects.

While their time is certainly precious, it's important to find ways of integrating this learning without taking up too much of their time. The third way, which would be the most exciting I think, would be to work on implementing a "20 percent time" as discussed before, where employees are allowed to explore and learn on their own for 20% of their time. The only requirement would be to present their learnings and findings, either online, or in front of their peers. This would allow them to focus on topics that are relevant and interesting to them, and it will also allow the company to gain new insight on things that they may not have considered before.

I'm excited to see where these ideas will go, and I look forward to sharing my findings with my superiors so that way we can not only improve the corporate learning environment at my company, but we can also hopefully bring some positive change and excitement to how we learn in the workplace.

References

Crocetti, C. (2001). The internet and higher education: Corporate learning JAI Press. doi:10.1016/S1096-7516(01)00066-5

Knowles, M. S. (1988). The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education.

Masie, E. (2012). EDUCAUSE review: Connecting two worlds: Collaboration between higher education and corporate learning EDUCAUSE.

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Rademakers, Martijn F. L. (2012). Achieving Corporate Learning Excellence. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 15, 51-54.

Wong, A., Amy Wong, & Karin Sixl-Daniell. (2015). International journal of advanced corporate learning: A case study in corporate E-learning International Association of Online Engineering. doi:10.3991/ijac.v8i1.4438

Chris Jones

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Boston, Massachusetts https://cdj.me