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    « HR Technology Presentation - BNHRA, April 25 | Main | ERP and the Ford Taurus »

    The Classroom and the Community

    A new version of my HR Technology class is set to commence this June, just a few short weeks from now. This session will be unlike any of the three prior classes, as it will be delivered 100% online.  Some changes that I have already had to make include leaving out the 'hands-on' use of Halogen's Talent Management Suite, as without the face to face meetings I don't think I will be able to effectively utilize the powerful set of capabilities that Halogen offers. I have also had to modify many of the presentation materials that I traditionally use to make them more 'wordy' and less 'visual' as so much of delivering courses online is reliant on written information. Flickr - carf

    I have entered into a new vendor partnership for this session, with community platform vendor Tomoye, that should provide an equally outstanding opportunity for 'hands-on' experience with a leading enterprise technology.  A community platform is certainly easier to deploy to a 'virtual' class than a traditional Talent Management application, particularly in the compressed time frame of a summer class.

    But aside from introducing the students to a community platform, I want to get the greater community of experts and leaders more involved in the class.  One of the things that I continually notice in higher education, is that many outstanding ideas, papers, presentations, etc. produced by students simply get seen only by the instructor, or sometimes by the other members of the class. Some excellent work, or decent work that with a little bit of refinement could indeed become excellent, sort of 'disappears'; used only to meet the requirements of an assignment, to earn a grade, and ultimately to complete the class and the degree.   The class is so often such a closed and insular environment, and I think that is a weakness in the traditional model.

    So in thinking about this issue, I floated an idea on Twitter, to have various experts from the community help moderate some of the online discussion topics that are commonly used in online course delivery. What I am after is a way to get the students more aware of, and introduced to some of the great leaders and visionaries in HR and HR Technology, while at the same time contributing themselves to that same community.  For example, if we conduct a discussion around enterprise software delivery models, an expert with many years experience deploying enterprise solutions could be in the same discussion with the class, many of whom will be getting their first exposure to these concepts.  Later in the course when we review the impact of Web 2.0 on HR, a CEO of a software company that markets these types of solutions can help moderate the discussions.

    It is not really a breakthrough concept, classes have used guest speakers for a hundred years, and this idea really is not that much different.  But it has the potential to be more meaningful to the students.  The guest speaker thing is not that interactive, usually just a speech and a few questions at the end, and like almost everything else in the class 'disappears' as soon as the speech is over.  What I am hoping to achieve with 'community' leaders helping to moderate class discussions is something potentially more lasting.  Hopefully students will get the chance for more personal and meaningful exchanges with the 'guest speaker' and that both parties and the greater community as a whole may benefit.

    For those community leaders reading this who did 'volunteer' to help and to participate in the project, I will reach out to you directly as the class gets closer, and I have finalized the platform and model for the process, and I say many, many thanks in advance for offering your expertise, time, and assistance.

    Higher education needs to be more 'open', and this is for me, a small step in that direction.







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    Reader Comments (4)

    The best way to learn in my (school) book is to listen and do from others' experience. Innovation is the eventually output.

    April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKevin W. Grossman

    Steve, while on the surface it may not seem revolutionary, the way you're enlarging the learning possibilities of your students is innovative and exciting. Most classes (particularly those conducted online) continue to see each class as a small thickly-walled bubble that is rarely penetrated by outside influences. Sad considering the technology exists to open up this learning sphere to far more numerous interactions.

    When a class integrates individuals outside of the core group (external learners, teachers, applied experts), then it becomes more heterogeneous and can truly call itself a community.

    I hope your students appreciate just what is being created for them.

    April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris Bailey

    Steve, I know what you mean about the works falling into the "abyss" after submission. I had several undergrad papers that were pretty darn good, but after I submitted them, they were pretty much useless. I'd encourage your students to post papers on personal blogs or in article directories. I used my online writings to create a dialogue with my new employer during the interviews. I'd like to see some suggestions from you about how they can get more use out of a term paper than a one-time credit for school.

    April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen

    Kevin - Totally agree. What goes on in class is only a small, small part of the overall picture.

    Chris - Thanks for the kind words, many schools have made great strides in making 'content' available (MIT and Stanford are two great examples), but there is much potential in breaking down the walls of the class, be it virtual or in-person to the outside community.

    Ben - I think you make a great point about encouraging students to share their work on blogs, SlideShare, and other sites. Many of my students are not comfortable with the transparency yet, but hopefully I can keep encouraging them and more will see the value. I will keep thinking and working on ways to get the good works done by students to continue to stay 'alive' as they leave the course.

    Thanks all for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it.

    April 20, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

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