Corporate E-Learning
Monday, May 09, 2005
Wiki This- A Model for Customer Support Using Blogs and Wikis

Lee Lefeved has this wonderful post on how to use blog and wiki together to provide
a persistent feedback loop for the decision makers and a timely support resource for customers.

While it is not an automated process, it has the advantage of having real human intelligence in organising the information in the wiki for future use (I am thinking organising the wiki like wikipedia) so that timely information will be searchable both internally for decision making and externally for customer-support. Of course, there may be sensitive issues which need to be sorted out for "internal" and "external", the idea is brilliant.

In the following, I am extending this idea for use in corporate e-learning.

In a teaching and training environment, the same idea can be used throughout the training sessions to capture the questions and issues arising from the course material from the learners. I would suggest that the learners should also be able to edit the course wiki (not just the instructor) so that they will own both the questions AND answers to the issue.

When the course is over, the wiki should be incorporated into a support wiki where employees who have finished the course may refer to on a just-in-time fashion for on the job support.

I would also suggest that for each cohort of learners/trainees, a new course wiki should be created. Learning is a process. If we start the current course with a previous course wiki (or the general support wiki), we are denying the current learners from the opportunity of first attempts in rising an issue and providing a solution to the problem.

There will be significant overlaps among course wikis. The overlaps signify the areas that instructional design should be focussed in the next iteration of the course. The non-overlapping issues among course wikis, when incorporated into the support wiki, will provide a rich "FAQ" for just-in-time problem solving on the job.
There is an active discussion on the Yahoo training and development group. One of the posts asked:
"I am leading a group of trainers, multimedia developers and
instructional designers. It is performance review time, and I need to
come up with performance goals for the next year. In addition to
goals surrounding departmental direction, what are some suggestions
for the instructional designers? This is a group of people who are
not ID by trade, but rather transferred from some other area (training
or otherwise). I am looking for goal suggestions for their personal
and professional growth to begin/continue to learn about instructional
design and how to create courseware for our web-based training

Any suggestions on how I can guide them towards learning and advancing
in their positions would be greatly appreciated."

My response was:
"Have them open up a community of practice-model blog on a service that allows
categories and tags like Typepad. Over the next two weeks, have each blog what
they feel they've accomplished in the last year; then set their own professional
goals for the next year.
You can comment freely as the posts appear, or keep silent.

Set a closing date for posting accomplishments and goals.
After the closing date, privately review your own evaluations of each person's accomplishments in the past year.
Discuss how you can move them to accomplish their new goals; or incorporate their goals into the strategies you need to set.

If a few of them are seeking similar goals, encourage a team effort. You may find others are interested in joining in the teams.

Maintain the blog over the next year as an ongoing evaluation, and active source of communication."

If I'd seen your blog before posting that response, I'd have had a few more points to add.
Thank you Paul for your nice comment.

Performance review and professional development are two different things and should be treated as such. It is a very good idea to use blog for identifying areas of interests for different people in terms of future outlook and hence tailor development program for their needs. However, for performance review, it is better down in less public sphere. I am not saying that performance review should be done secretly, but it should be an open dialogue between the reviewer and the reviewee and these two only.

It is important to acknowledge achievement as well as mistakes. Mistakes should be viewed as a lesson learnt - not as any kind of excuse for demotion or anything. Innovation obviously requires trials and errors. When such errors/mistakes are made in good faith, as part of an innovation, these should be acknowledged as positive achievement. However, sometimes we make judgement errors. These should better be handled sensitively between the reviewer and reviewee and treated honestly as lesson learnt. Open discussion of such incidence may not be the best approach.

Paul, I have visited your blog and have subscribed to its feed. Hope we can have interesting dialogues in the future via this medium.
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