One of the things that has been surprising to me during this period of isolation with COVID19 and working with companies who are moving their operations and teamwork to an online format into MS Teams and other collaboration software is this MYTH that you can easily move what was delivered face-to-face BC (Before Corona) automatically translates to an online format DC (during Corona).
That is, one hour meeting face-to-face EQUALS one hour meeting on MS Teams or Zoom or whatever.
Teachers are no better in this situation believing that one hour of a class time EQUALS one hour of online delivery through MS Teams for Education or Zoom or whatever.
THIS IS WRONG!
You should have alarm bells ringing if anyone makes you believe that this is the case.
THIS IS NOT ONLINE LEARNING AND IT CERTAINLY IS NOT ONLINE REMOTE WORKING.
You may have heard of ‘flipped classrooms’ – now it’s time to think OF FLIPPED WORK.
If you’re spending back-to-back meetings online in Teams and Zoom now during Corona as you were in back-to-back meetings BC then rather than look at blaming the tool, you should be blaming how you’re MANAGING YOUR TIME AND HOW YOU’RE CO-ORDINATING YOUR WORK.
It’s NOT THE FAULT OF THE TOOL BUT THE PEOPLE LACK OF AWARENESS FOR USING IT AND HOW IT FITS INTO THE CONTEXT OF THEIR WORK.
Before Corona, and before my role as a Community Manager for Adopt & Embrace, I was a learning consultant and my qualifications all stem from being an Instructional Designer and Developer.
I have designed and developed multitude of facilitator led programs from 1991-2000; then from 2000-2006 it was focused on e-learning courses; and from 2006 onwards since the advent of discussion forums, social media, webinar software, collaboration software my skills then turned to designing what was known as BLENDED LEARNING programs that involved social and virtual delivery options.
My particular expertise was how to design connectivist programs (guided social learning) that supported shared knowledge sharing and collaboration (programs for learning, thinking and working in the networked age).
One of the key rules we learned is that ONE HOUR OF FACE TO FACE CLASSES/MEETINGS DOES NOT EQUAL TO ONE HOUR OF ONLINE DELIVERY.
If you and your business are making the mistake thinking that online delivery is the same replacement to face to face – then you’re not only doing it wrong but you’re EXHAUSTING YOUR ENTIRE WORKFORCE.
So What Do You Do Instead?
First of all, accept that online delivery is only ONE WAY out of MANY ways to communicate, collaborate and co-ordinate with your peers and colleagues – and yes, even students.
It is not the best way nor is it the worst way; nor is it good nor is it bad. IT IS SIMPLY ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE.
The argument of whether this will stay on After Corona is MOOT.
Let the arguments for and against online delivery disappear because they’re irrelevant now – as they were BC. Accept that online is another delivery form. It is what it is. It’s happening. It will continue to be used AC (whether you like it or not).
Secondly, think of your work as a series of PROJECTS that you’re working on.
These projects are split into TEAMS.
Yes, there will be some work that you’re working on ALONE AND INDEPENDENTLY.
Let’s leave those out for the moment and FOCUS ON TEAM PROJECTS. (This includes teachers and their SCHOOL CLASSES).
Thirdly, think of these PROJECTS (AND FOR TEACHERS, CLASSES) NOT AS STAND ALONE EVENTS but PROGRAMS.
Each team you’re working on, each class that you’re holding is NOT a stand alone event in that it has a start and finish time say 9am until 10am. Indeed, if you think about it their REAL DURATION IS A LOT LONGER THAN THAT.
For example, a class can last an entire term. Or if you break it down into themes, subjects, topics, issues, phases, whatever – it could last 1, 3, 4 weeks – whatever. Similarly, a project at work can last weeks or months but you can further split the work into phases.
If your team has a Project Plan of the phases of your work, you’re already working your work as part of a PROGRAM – start thinking it as such and NOT AS DISCRETE DAY TO DAY OR HOUR EVENTS such as that that one hour meeting for XYZ, or that class on Biology between 9am and 10am.
FLIP YOUR THINKING TOWARDS THAT WHERE YOUR WORK/CLASS IS A PROGRAM OF TASKS AND ACTIVITIES (NOT AS STAND ALONE EVENTS) THAT WILL LAST A CERTAIN DURATION AND THAT MAY BE GUIDED/SUPPORTED AT TIMES. THEY MAY REQUIRE YOU TO WORK ALONE ON TASKS SEPARATELY FROM OTHERS. THEY MAY ALSO REQUIRE YOU TO USE A MULTITUDE OF DIFFERENT TOOLS AND PLATFORMS. THEY MAY ALSO REQUIRE YOU TO WORK ACROSS TEAMS, DEPARTMENTS, COMMUNITIES AND NETWORKS WITH A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
Flip Your Work
When you think of your work don’t think of it in terms of a daily To-Do tasks.
Think about it in terms of what problems you want to solve; what goals you need to achieve; what duration you need; what tools and technology you need access to; the people you need to collaborate or co-ordinate with.
That is, take a HIGHER VIEW and view it as part of a WORK SCAPE so that you can get your headspace out of day to day, short term thinking to longer term OUTCOMES you want to achieve.
Similarly, for teachers, rather than thinking of your day to day classes, think about these as programs instead. If you were teaching classes every day, what are some ways you can reduce the ‘lectures’ online and instead, have a blend of synchronous and asynchronous activities?
(I have to add here that this will vary for some teachers, in this matter here, this is more aligned with teachers who are teaching adults or senior students as primary school educators would have their own sets of challenges with use of tools for younger students and need for support by their peer teacher community as well as parents).
So a program can be defined as consisting of a variety of tasks and activities…
- People or students can do COLLABORATIVELY together such as students with students; workers with colleagues.
- BY A TEACHER OR A MANAGER OR A SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT. That is, as well as working collaboratively like above; students may be guided by a teacher in an activity; or in the case of a work situation, a manager, subject matter expert can also GUIDE workers through a problem or a topic or a item of conversation or discussion.
- THAT CAN BE DONE INDIVIDUALLY too such as workers doing focus time work; thinking work; design work; reflective work on their own (and same with the students for personal assignment time).
- Done within a SPACE WHERE STUDENTS AND WORKERS CAN COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE AND CO-ORDINATE ONLINE – call it an online community space where files can be shared; documents can be opened and worked on synchronously and asynchronously; this space can be MODERATED (by a teacher in the case of schools) or in the case of work, PEER MODERATED.
- That use TOOLS, TECHNOLOGY AND PROGRAMS that allow for workers and students to record, capture their thinking and notes (these are all your suite of typical Microsoft tools such as O365, Word, Excel, PowerPoint – Google Suite, etc – too numerous to mention here because there’s a MULTITUDE of these out there and they will vary depending on the circumstance. These are available in three different ways – desktop applications, mobile phone applications and web browser.
When you design and develop your work project, start to think in terms of the above.
Think of your work projects as a PROGRAM and now delve into the following questions:
- What are the activities that really need for us to meet online to report on our findings?
- If we meet online, how can we reconsider what can be done individually and separately; together as a group in real time; together as a group asynchronously; what requires some guided support from a manager, or SME – how can this be done without meeting in real time together through Zoom or Teams?
- How can we share our files, documents and resources and work on these collaboratively in real time? (to minimise need to meet; and reduce email)
- How can we access our files, documents and resources 24/7 (to cater for those who may not be available at work times because they’re taking care of family or helping their students with home schooling?)
- How can we record our team meetings so that people can watch them in their own time and still feel that they did not miss any part of the work?
- How can we collaboratively share our notes and notebooks?
- How can we be transparent with our work and thinking (how can we work out loud?)
- What resources can we curate and include in a wiki or community space that gets people up to speed with relevant information needed?
- How can we build and include some kind of online community space for teams to collaborate and co-ordinate in?
- How can we have a space where we can share our own tips, techniques and strategies and share what we’re learning with each other (to minimise time dedicated to training or formal online learning)?
Most importantly, how can you learn – and exploit – ALL the tools and technologies we have at your disposal?
For example, if you have Office365, how much do you know about….
- Using the Wikis in MS Teams; or even the plug ins and apps in MS Teams?
- Automating some workflows in PowerAutomate?
- Curating some links in Delve – or the blog function within it?
- Creating a Collaborative OneNote Notebook for all your team members to contribute in it?
- Setting up keyword search terms as hashtags in Yammer?
- How well do you know how to use your enterprise social network?
- Creating screencasts within MS Teams when you need to create a quick recording of a process you want to share?
- Creating Private Channels in MS Teams
- Sharing documents for collaboration in real time?
- How much do you really know and can exploit the full functionality of the programs you have?
If you don’t know the full use of what ‘power’ you have at your fingertips – and in particular, how to use the functions based on your own work contexts, think of ways to be able to do this through following some Microsoft Valued Professionals (MVPs) and seeing how they use Microsoft; checking out the Microsoft Resources and YouTube channels and the myriad of different courses available.
YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO USE THE TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL FOR YOUR OWN PURPOSES. Time to put aside your own prejudices and biases for social, video and collaborative tools aside – swallow your pride – and LEARN THESE.
The future of whether you will stay in work or not will depend on it.
Sure, that print out of the Job Aide or Quick Reference Guide that your IT Department or HR Department gave you will help in some limited way to show you the functions of the screen in front of you BUT YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON CONTEXT.
You’re missing out on REDESIGNING YOUR WORK IN SUCH A WAY THAT WILL BRING YOU BACK HOURS SO THAT YOU CAN FOCUS ON MORE VALUE ADD WORK….AND THINKING.
This is where your value is to the organisation NOT whether you are online for 6 or more hours of the day totally exhausted and depleted of energy.
If you’re doing it right, you will know. You will feel energised and productive, and feel as if you’ve achieved more because you’ve had a blend of different types of thinking and doing in your day and hopefully, some social too.
Here’s some resources for you to flip your thinking:
- Jane Hart talks about Guided Social Learning: Collaborative Learning for the Networked Age
- The Adopt & Embrace 10P Framework for Microsoft Teams
- Dr George Siemens talks about Connectivism (Learning in a Connected Age) and here.
- I designed a guided social learning program for Coca Cola Amatil in 2015. See how I did it here. First phase was the Strategy Phase (how I came up with the idea of how I was going to do this). Second phase was How I Developed the Work, Connect and Learn Program; and my reflections on its completion.
- 10 Ways to Use an Enterprise Social Network for Social Learning by Jane Hart
- Social Learning Handbook by Jane Hart
- Social Learning podcast by Learning Hook when they interviewed me and I talked about this topic.