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Accelerating Your Learning Curve Under Lockdown

How I'm leveraging my networks to make the most of learning opportunities

Image: Questions fear learning book by Mohammed Hassan via Pixabay
Image: Questions fear learning book by Mohammed Hassan via Pixabay

One of the many things I’m grateful for in the wake of the Corona virus are my multiple and varied networks. On the personal end of things, I’m reconnecting with friends and relatives from all over the globe and from different phases of my life. That’s fun and enormously comforting.

On the professional end of things, I’m discovering that at a moment when it’s vital to be flexible and agile in how we approach our work, my network is furnishing me with new opportunities for growth.

I was reminded of this the other day when a call went out at one of the consultancies where I work. Overnight, this company – which specializes in leadership development – was transitioning its content from face-to-face workshops to webinars. The CEO suggested that the 50 or so affiliated consultants sort ourselves into small “action learning groups” of four to six people to help navigate this shift into the Wild West of online delivery.

I’m new to action learning, which has been described as a process of “insightful questioning and reflective listening.” It’s essentially a group coaching methodology that brings together small groups of people from different areas of an organization to solve real issues in real time.The idea is to use group dialogue to disrupt the status quo and generate innovate solutions.

My group defined its problem as “Sharing our collective insights from the field to learn about super powers of adaptability in shifting offline to online learning in tough times.” Our Slack channel is #superpowers. (P.S. Love!) Because all six of us have very different backgrounds – ranging from journalism and academia to executive coaching and learning and leadership – we all bring different perspectives to this joint endeavour.

The first week, one member of our group gave a short presentation on how to engage audiences with online learning tools. I already knew how to use polls, chats and break-out rooms to facilitate participation using Zoom. But in conversation with my Action Learning group, I was delighted to discover that document sharing, What’sApp and live video recordings could also be utilised to stimulate learning.

The following week, we talked about the advantages of running webinars through other platforms like Google Hangouts and Prezi. We also talked about how to flip the classroom, the potential advantages of shorter “bursts” of instruction and how to fold one-to-one tutorials in alongside webinars to personalize the learning experience. Next week, I’ll facilitate a discussion around “voice,” and how to become a thought leader using social media.

I’ve written before about why it’s important to have a group of people who can offer advice as you move through your career, rather than relying on one, sole mentor. This diversity enables you to draw on a range of viewpoints – and skill sets – that complement your own. I’ve also championed lifelong learning as a way to cultivate curiosity as we age.

What’s wonderful about this new group I’ve joined is that I feel like I’m doing both things. I’ve got some new guests at my metaphorical “dinner table” who are helping me to develop professionally. And during a period in my life when I’m mostly  stuck indoors, it’s great to stay fresh and learn new skills.

What are you doing during this difficult time to accelerate your learning curve?

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