September 29, 2013 / SCHOOLING YOU
September 29, 2013
How Qualcomm has fundamentally rethought education in the workplace, centering on curiosity not classrooms as the life force of motivation and progress.
Imagine you’re at work facing a new challenge, wishing for something that would kick-start your talents and help you jump forward in your skills. In this dream world, a genie would appear and present you with the perfect gift: a completely customized, instantaneous boost. You’d magically be equipped with the knowledge and information needed, with precise coaching that would accelerate your ability to tackle the challenge. Your learning would fuel your inspiration. You’d connect with a diverse community of people in the process. You’d have access to a global pool of experts and peers who would all weigh in on your ideas. And you’d never have to step foot in a classroom to learn exactly what you need to know.
According to Mark Better, Learning Specialist Senior Staff at Qualcomm, for years there has been a lag between the type of learning environments we want and the way that corporate training has been structured. But, Mark and his colleagues are hard at work to coax the proverbial genie out of the bottle to fundamentally restructure on-the-job learning. The core concept is simple: start with the person, not the classroom. Create experiences for each individual that enhance their work experience with exposure to new data, connections to new resources, and ultimately equip them to grow.
Traditional Approaches to Learning Won’t Cut It
The Qualcomm Learning Center has been tasked with bringing future of learning concepts to their programs to keep the 20,000+ global employees up to date with technological advances, leadership skills, management insights, and market information to fan the flames of innovation throughout the company. In the past, that has meant classroom learning, online courses, and specialized workshops. To forge a more compelling path, the Qualcomm team has launched a set of experiments to discover what makes us tick at work and how we can redefine what, and how, we want to learn. As part of their process, the team takes field trips to places like Google to study corporate culture. They immerse themselves in non-corporate think tanks like the Future of Learning conference that looks broadly at education. They construct ways to integrate Lynda.com into just-in-time learning modules. And they launch pilots to explore how emerging technologies like Panopto.com can create better search options and how Pathgather.com can bring new dimensions to individual career paths.
Mark shared one example of how the early experiments are playing out: “We’ve recently created an internal app store to bring development resources to mobile devices for Qualcomm employees.” That will be just the beginning of the transformation to build a learning environment that nurtures individual curiosity and accelerates progress.
Of course not all of us can take on the future of learning at a scale that Qualcomm can. But we can all apply what they’ve learned so far to our own lives. When it comes to job-related training today, the old-fashioned, one-size-fits-all approach to learning won’t cut it anymore. We all need to completely rethink how we’ll all progress in our knowledge using a fundamentally new set of concepts as the heart of our approach, starting with new questions to guide us—questions that nurture curiosity:
1. What if on-the-job training was seamlessly integrated into your job?
2. What if corporate training supported each individual’s path toward developing skills and advancing professionally?
3. What if education stimulated innovation and imagination with crowd-sourced input and collaboration?
4. What if expertise from the very best experts and most provocative thinkers could be inserted into our brains?
5. What if we could engage with teams of other people who are also curious about what we’re curious about, and learn together from time to time?
6. What if we could get feedback in different ways—not just based on mastery of facts, but based on a coaching spirit, where people could help boost us toward our goals?
7. What if technology was inserted into the process, taking the best of Nike Fuel bands (setting goals and monitoring progress), BaseCamp reminders (organizing learning objectives), and Feedly (news aggregation) and Social Rep (emerging trend data)?
8. Could we all experience the Vulcan Mind Meld, that classic Star Trek sci-fi fantasy concept, where we have truly seamless integration between what we want to become better at and the sources of knowledge?
Satisfaction is what really kills most cats. And complacency. And sluggishness in changing to keep up with the times. But, in the case of building a culture that will drive innovation, a new breed of training can be designed to unlock the curiosity we all have inside to become more, connect more, and love our jobs more.