Interface or face-to-face learning?




photo by Alice Feldt

What can we as learning and development professionals learn from the decision of Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, to end the work-from-home policy for 200 Yahoo employees?  In explaining her decision she said, “people are more productive when they’re alone,” and then continued, “but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”  It would be wise to keep her words in mind when developing learning programs.

Marissa Mayer was a rising star at Google before she became Yahoo’s CEO.  Yahoo and Google are two companies whose existence depends on the sharing of information over the Internet.  However, she’s keenly aware of the limitations of the platform.  People are more productive alone when consuming information, understanding concepts, memorizing lists and procedures – all necessary to do their jobs effectively.  But when it comes time to use this knowledge in creative applications, employees need to come together face-to-face to pull different ideas together.

Here’s where learning professionals can use Ms. Mayer’s insight.  We can also use this blended approach to maximize the effectiveness of our program design.  We need to take advantage of both the interface and the face-to-face.  Learners can work independently to absorb knowledge and come together in the classroom to apply it in innovative ways.

Finally, when we bring participants together who have gained information from the e-learning  portion of the training, we need to refocus their face-to-face time.  Instead of facing the facilitator, participants need to face each other and through experiential  exercises pull ideas together and make the learning their own.

Let’s keep in mind the reason behind Ms. Mayer’s decision.  She said, ‘I don’t want to change [Yahoo’s] culture.  I want to amplify its greatness.”  Let’s use the strengths of both e-learning and the face-to-face classroom to do the same for learning transfer.





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