I have recently been working on a lot of technical training projects for a recent software implementation. The learners completed a series of eLearning tutorials and a day long instructor led training class but that was not enough to help learners retain the knowledge needed to use the software fluently. In an effort to provide a continuous learning experience I implemented a Wiki using MediaWiki. Myself and a few others filled the Wiki with detailed instructions covering every procedure the software is used for. It is now a great resource for quickly finding answers especially in the first couple of weeks after the software implementation. The instructions in the Wiki served as a great reminder of what they learned in the eLearning and instructor led courses to get them through the tough times.
However, the Wiki did not fulfill all of the learners needs. Many learners had a difficult time fully understanding the in's and outs of unique situations by reading instructions on the Wiki. They needed to interact with somebody who could answer their questions and provide perspective unique to the situation they are dealing with. The problem with this is that the technical support staff was too busy to provide the one on one coaching that many people needed. To address this issue I implemented a help forum on the organizations Moodle LMS where learners could go and post their non urgent questions. At first I thought it would mainly be the tech support staff answering questions in the forum but it turned out to be other tech savvy learners who caught on to the software quickly that were able to lend a helping hand to their colleagues by answering questions. The great thing about this is that the quick learners who were answering questions were learning more by answering questions. The forum turned out to not only be a great tool for reducing tech support calls, but it was also a great tool for both novices and experts to learn about the software.
The wiki and help forum turned out to be great resources but this was not until I could overcome the major hurdle of getting people to use these resources. In any organization, it can be difficult to attract participation for tools like this even if the information is valuable. I still don't have the participation I would like but as I continue to advertise within the organization, I'm gaining more and more visitors in each of these resources. The bullet points below highlight some of the advertising successes I have had:
- Cover Resources in Formal Training Courses - I made sure to include training on using the Wiki and help forum in the formal eLearning and Instructor Led courses as a form of advertising and to set expectations of when to use these resources. In the past, employees of the organization have had a tendency to quickly call the tech support staff when they didn't know how to do something so we needed to break this habit.
- Advertise anywhere and everywhere - The more chatter there is about the resources the better. I had success by advertising in the company newsletter and the internal company intranet. Employees refer to the newsletter and intranet for the latest news so these were ideal places to advertise the successes people were having using these resources.
- Get the power users involved - I mentioned that there was a tendency in the organization to rely on the tech support staff when you have a software question. To break this habit we needed to change the habits of both the employees and the tech support staff. Rather than firing off the answer to the question I encouraged the tech support staff to coach the employee on how to find the answer to their question using the Wiki and Forum. Once employees realized that if they call tech support, they are going to be coached on using the Wiki and Forum the calls start dwindling and participation in the resources increases.