Developing a Learning Culture

Together, Apart: Collaborative Learning With a Global Team

In a perfect world, each training session would find your entire team in the same room, learning from each other, and building lasting team relationships. But with business expansion, teams are finding themselves all over the country, even the world. Through satellite offices, telecommuting, and global branches it means that your organization doesn’t have to be in the same time zone, let alone the same room in order to have a learning session. But what about collaborative learning?

Employees have the power to pick up training anytime and anywhere; not just during prescribed training meetings. But, your organization is faced with an impasse: how can you learn from each other while learning apart?

Collaborative learning doesn’t mean you need to be in the same office to benefit from a team effort. New tools allow employees to interact with their colleagues in beneficial ways, no matter their location. Adding some of these tools to your training kit can help shorten the distance between employees and their ideas.

1. LMS Tools

Most modern learning management systems offer ways for users to communicate with one another. Whether it’s the ability to send comments to each other or utilize tools for sharing articles and modules, learners can collaborate with their colleagues within the LMS for maximum efficiency and a more personalized experience. A learner in New York can have a completely asynchronous experience while still feeling like they are a part of the team in San Diego.

A good LMS doesn’t put learners on an island. Personal tools and tracking are great, but it’s when those are combined with a collaborative learning aspect that users begin to reap the benefits of independent, just-in-time learning with the experience of working as part of the team.

2. Regular Knowledge Transfer

Different employees will have different learning experiences and their own “aha!” moments. It’s when those moments can be shared with colleagues that everyone benefits from learning collaboration. Some organizations have employees report on the things they learned, while others take a more informal approach such as talking about a recent conference or learning session via social media or Slack. Knowledge transfer is a meaningful part of the learning process because it could alert employees to issues and solutions they hadn’t previously considered. Knowledge transfer, unlike some training, doesn’t depend on location. Anyone can share with anyone else, be it via social media, a shared video, or a quick recap of a presentation or learning session.

Senior managers and the C-suite aren’t exempt from this process. They must model the behavior of knowledge transfer and become eager for collaborative learning in order for employees to buy into the process themselves. Making your workplace somewhere that collaboration is welcome–regardless of branch or location–benefits everyone.

The most successful companies know to seek a global approach while sticking to their roots. Social sharing, LMS tools, and regular check-ins between branches make the distance seem inconsequential for a growing organization that remembers the importance of keeping employees in its inner circle.