Knowledge Sharing, Teaching What you Know and Creating a Learning Culture- Oh My!

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Last month, D2L participated in Learn@Work Week. Learn @ Work Week is The Institute for Performance and Learning’s annual celebration to promote the importance of workplace learning and performance to key stakeholders and the public-at-large.

We ran for 1.5 weeks (Yes! We took creative licensing liberties with the word “week” to make sure that as many people as possible could participate), embracing this year’s theme: Learning is the Foundation of Everything.

So, what did we do to celebrate? Well, being a learning company and all, the answer was right in front of us. Recognizing that D2L is FULL of experienced, skilled, talented and passionate people, we chose to create an opportunity for D2Lers (that’s what we call the amazing people who work here) to teach what they know to colleagues who were interested in learning!

Why did we do it?

The choice to participate in Learn@Work week was an easy one. We’re an organization who believes that learning and access to learning can transform the world. And we believe that in order to best leverage learning’s impact, we need to lead the way and transform the way the world learns.  Long story short, we LOVE LEARNING! And it was obvious that, if rather than bringing in external facilitators to run sessions, we leveraged all the skills and talents that were right here at D2L, the benefits from our participation in Learn@Work Week would multiply.

How so?

Participating in Learn@Work week:

(1) Supported our leadership competencies by encouraging employees to:

  • be boundaryless by going outside of their typical teams and technical areas of expertise for development
  • to be talent magnets by investing in learning and development and growth
  • to lead by example by doing yourself what you want others to do

(2) Provided an opportunity for employees to demonstrate thought leadership and openly encouraged knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing is beneficial both for the person sharing the knowledge as well as the learner. It opens up opportunities to work more boundaryless-ly, for greater collaboration and relationship building, and ultimately for more engaged employees. We couldn’t lose!!

(3) Encouraged opportunities for relationship building through teaching and learning (I mean, is there a better way?) and…

(4) Demonstrated our commitment to celebrating learning and continuing to develop a true learning culture.

So….what happened?

We had 9 sessions running over the week and a half time period with a diverse offerings list including both D2L related (e.g. configuring email in our learning environment and the Brightspace for Parents tool- Brightspace is D2Ls amazing product) and personal interest related topics (e.g. yoga, personal finance and simple living and the science behind beer brewing) all of which were facilitated by our very own D2Lers.

We had over 200 people register and participate in this variety of learning- again- benefiting not only specifically by the learning content itself, but by getting to know others in the company and stretching out of their own comfort zones!

A few things we learned along the way:

  • Connect any investment in learning and development back to a strategic anchor(whether that be competencies, OKRs, strategic goals, etc.). Continually making those connections for people helps employees to better understand why we invest in certain things over others and how we invest in them quite regularly
  • Consider what types of sessions would not apply. Our casual and comfortable culture allowed for some sessions that just may not have fit somewhere else. These decisions should be culture and company aligned.
  • Support the development and growth of those who volunteer with little to no facilitation experience. Offer your volunteers some coaching or tips and strategies for effective facilitation and be prepared to support them with any technical or IT needs going into the session.
  • Have a plan for any global (not in HQ) employees or those whose schedules won’t allow them to attend. We used Zoom to allow global employees to participate and recorded the sessions for viewing by those who couldn’t be in attendance. Reinforce that learning and access to learning is important for ALL employees. Not just those who are there that day.
  • Celebrate and recognize those who volunteer to facilitate and participate. We began each session by thanking the facilitator as well as all those in attendance for taking the time for learning, growth and development. We called out how challenging that can sometimes be and that we were grateful as a company that those in the room were investing in themselves. We also sent a follow up thank you email to the volunteer facilitator and their manager, connecting their involvement in Learn@Work week to our “Lead by Example and Be a Talent Magnet” leadership competencies.

The final tip? Participating in Learn@Work Week is JUST the beginning. Keep that list of volunteers and keep going! To continue the energy created by supporting employees facilitating and teaching what they know moving forward, keep a list of those who volunteered and consider offering monthly lunch and learn type sessions highlighting your employees’ knowledge. Not only will it give a professional development opportunity for those in attendance, but often, for those facilitating as well. It also helps to reinforce a learning culture, knowledge sharing and helps to engage and encourage employees.

I said it once, and I’ll say it again! Knowledge sharing, Teaching What you Know and Creating a Learning Culture- OH MY!

If you’ve read this and though “wow, I need to get some of THAT kind of learning”, apply here so you both transform the way the world learns, AND the way you learn!

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