Saturday, June 9, 2012

Extending Learning through Yammer

Take a look at the two machine parts in this picture.  They are Vacuum Deck Blower Motors.  When presented next to each other side by side, it is pretty easy to see that they are not the same.  The one on the left is slightly taller.  If you were to go inside the housing you would see that they have different constructions and different controllers.  That is because they are made for different machines and they are not interchangeable.  But if you didn’t have them standing right next to each other, you might easily mistake one for the other and place the wrong one in the wrong machine during maintenance or while making repairs.  Some of our service representatives have made that mistake.

Of course, when they go through training they are instructed on the differences in usage and labeling so they can recognize and install the right part into the right machine.   Fortunately our equipment is pretty reliable which means there might be a long interval between the time service reps receive this training and the time they might actually have to make this repair.   It is easy to see how they might forget what they’ve learned and install the wrong part.

That is one of the frustrations expressed by the Technical Training Instructor who leads the class in which this is covered.   He is an excellent instructor.  He covers everything the reps need to know, gives them a chance to practice doing it, and provides appropriate feedback before sending them out into the field.  He had been doing this for years and hoping for the best, until he discovered Yammer.   Now he extends the learning beyond the classroom by sharing tips and tricks that the service reps can easily access off of their laptops or mobile devices at the point of need.   The picture of the vacuum deck blowers is actually part of a job aid he attached to a post in the Yammer group he recently created.  In the short time since this group has been up and running, he has been able to share pictures, videos, and job aids -  and generally give the service reps the benefit of his expertise at the point of need.  At the same time, he is learning from them.  He is learning about the challenges and the most common problems they face in the field.  This information allows him to incrementally improve his classroom training approach and materials.

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