Idea Learning Group

"learning-experience" Posts

Check out our co-founder Jillian Douglas’ interview with Justin Foster of Foster Thinking in his 6th episode of the Bacon Coterie series.

“Jillian is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Idea Learning Group in Portland, OR.  With the growing emphasis on customized learning in the workplace, Jillian and her team are true innovators on creating memorable learning experiences for companies. Jillian is an interesting, funny, smart and driven person who I could visit with for hours!” – Justin Foster

Thanks Justin!

Unlearning What We Think We Already Know About Learning

We’re on a mission to improve the way people learn at work! Traditional training is designed with a distinct start, distinct end, and is delivered over a fixed number of hours. However, learning doesn’t actually work that way.

Our approach is to create conditions for learning to take place over time, allowing learners to internalize and develop new ways to integrate what they’ve learned into their work. Some examples include:

  • Deep inquiry into business culture to effectively align with training material
  • Road maps that outline training strategies into multiple phases
  • Realistic situations that build context and encourage learners to relate to the material and draw new connections
  • Multiple ways to obtain information, such as through eLearning, job aids, and live classes
  • Self-directed learning opportunities to explore and experiment with content

Learning is an experience, not an event—often with multiple starts and stops. By confining content and instruction to a fixed time and space, limits are imposed on the entire learning process. The neuroscience of learning shows that learners need repeated exposure to concepts to process, absorb, and understand information.

Until recently, the common assumption was that our brains, like the rest of our bodies, stopped developing when we became adults. We believed that neural cell generation—or neurogenesis—was not possible after childhood. We now know that neurogenesis can take place, although to a lesser extent, throughout adulthood.

The study of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change as a result of new situations and experiences, is revealing fascinating findings that can be applied to the learning environment. Not surprisingly, these findings suggest that our brains are wired to learn through experience to adapt to our environments.

For the latest articles and insights into brain science and learning, be sure to tune into Jillian’s collection on ScoopIt.

Balancing Face-to-Face And Virtual Meetings

We rely on an amazing amount of technology to stay connected to our business partners and teams: phone, email, text messaging, social networking sites, and video conferencing. How do we choose the most appropriate mode for the situation?

A Time and Place for Face-to-Face

One of the obvious benefits of meeting in person is the ability to pick up on body language and other non-verbal cues. (Most agree that emoticons are a poor substitution.) Whenever possible, we try to meet with our clients face to face, especially for kick-off meetings. It’s part of our commitment to personalized customer service, and it helps us to get to know and bond with our clients.

According to a Forbes Insight survey of more than 750 businesses, 58% percent say they travel for business less today than they did at the start of the recession in 2008. And eight of ten executives say they prefer face-to-face to virtual meetings. Those surveyed who prefer face-to-face meetings cite social interaction, the ability to more easily persuade, greater accountability, and a better environment for decision-making as primary reasons for their preference.

The Value of Virtual Meetings

We acknowledge that face-to-face is best, but we’ve learned to take advantage of alternative ways to communicate when needed. Many companies rely on virtual meetings when face-to-face is not possible, too expensive, or too complicated to arrange. Without virtual technology, keeping in touch with international and opposite-coast clients would be much more complicated.

Last year, Shannon and I had the opportunity to travel to Germany and Denmark to meet with our clients at Vestas. After a single face-to-face kickoff meeting, we had spent several months meeting and collaborating virtually. When we finally did meet face to face we found that the relationship we had forged with the aid of technology was solid and it felt as if we had always had the advantage of face-to-face interactions.

Meeting virtually helps businesses accomplish certain tasks more efficiently without squeezing the budget. Virtual meetings can also enhance face-to-face communication. When we reserve the “less important” topics for video calls, we can make better use of time when we do have the chance to meet in person. Discussing project scope, timelines, or team roles, for example, can all be done online and then expanded upon during a face-to-face session.

When we plan a virtual meeting, we plan a succinct agenda send any materials ahead of time that may be relevant for our call. The Harvard Business Review has an excellent list of tips for making the most of virtual meetings.

So really it’s not an either/or question. Knowing when and how to use virtual communication helps to strengthen and enhance business relationships in new and exciting ways. What are some of your tips for balancing face-to-face and virtual communication?

By the way, we’re still waiting for someone to invent the “morning mask” for early-a.m. video call.

IdeaLearning Group Case Study: Northwest Community Credit Union

Northwest Community Credit Union was founded in 1949 and remains a member-owned, not-for-profit organization with branches throughout Oregon. Nearly everyone who lives or works in the state is eligible for membership and can benefit from a full range of financial products and services.

Northwest Community is a great example of IdeaLearning Group’s success in embedding ourselves in our clients’ workplace in order to produce the most effective, results-driven experiences for our clients and their learners. Since we began working with Northwest Community Credit Union in February 2012, IdeaLearning Group has managed a wide range of projects, including training courses focused on new employee orientation, software training, and management development. In just a short while, our team has become an integral part of the extended Northwest Community family.

And because we’ve spent time really getting to know the NW Community culture, values, and mission, we consistently make valuable recommendations to train staff members as they transform and roll out their new business model and supporting programs.

LoansPQ Training

Northwest Community Credit Union needed database training for the new LoansPQ system, which is a web-based consumer loan management application that allows effective cross-sell of loan products to consumers. The purpose of the training was to introduce the concept of computer-generated loans and to provide practice using the new loan system. The training program included two-hour webinar sessions with supporting materials. The timeline was aggressive—six weeks from concept to completion—and IdeaLearning Group partnered very closely with Northwest Community to ensure content integrity and a smooth roll-out.

The program manager for Northwest Community Credit Union reports great success with the program.

“The results have been phenomenal,” he said. “We initially set up a ‘war room’ to prepare for what we assumed would be a flood of support calls as our staff went live with the new system. But it was almost a non-event! We answered fewer than 20 calls a day, although we were prepared with four full-time help desk staff members. The training and the supporting materials provided were a key component to the success of our launch. We hit this one out of the park!”

eXperience Culture Training

Northwest Community Credit Union needed to roll out a new training program designed to empower employees to deliver consistently delightful experiences to members, have better conversations more often among branch staff and managers, and improve the effectiveness of their decisions. The training also focused on demystifying the complexity of bank regulation that is added to the industry—layer after layer, year after year—so that staff members can help customers feel more comfortable with the risk and regulation inherent in banking.

The training program involved a series of sessions with managers and assistant managers, who participated in the training and shared it with their staff members. The program manager describes the overwhelming success of the program.

NEW BUSINESS Contact us with business inquiries or to discuss your project needs and vision.
CAREERS We always enjoy connecting with talented professionals in the learning and development field.
CONNECT 503.208.3256
LOCATION 2701 NW Vaughn St #103
Portland, OR 97210

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