Meet Charlie – Instructional Designer at NovoEd
Charlie is passionate about applying new pedagogies to online learning environments, and brings a background in enterprise software and management consulting, leading organizational learning innovation at ZS Associates. He is also an editor for the MOOC directory Class Central. At NovoEd, he has designed and consulted for Comcast, ING, and Deloitte.
Tell us about yourself. How did you become interested in online learning?
I’ve always been interested in learning and am a lifelong learner. Before joining NovoEd, I was in management consulting for 8 years, but decided to make a change to focus on an area of passion. I am keenly interested in adult learning, because as people are living longer and healthier lives, there are now perhaps 40-50+ years after formal schooling where people still need to learn, and there are not many structured ways to do so.
I’ve followed the rise of the MOOCs (I’m an editor at Class Central), and saw how innovative the MOOCs were in various ways. However, currently most MOOCs are focused on replicating college classes, and I was interested in bringing some of these pedagogical innovations to the corporate training world, where there is a glaring need for better learning experiences. That is why I joined NovoEd, because it is focused on being a learning platform that is light-years ahead of others in helping adults in the workplace learn new skills, like leadership and other higher-level skills.
What are some of the positive trends that you are seeing in online learning?
I think there are many positive trends. First, more and more people are becoming used to interacting online. Even five years ago, if you told many business leaders that you could have meaningful leadership training experiences online, you would be met with disbelief. But times have changed. Also, we now know that people can learn substantive content online in a short period of time if it is well designed. It’s been shown that small clips of tightly-scripted videos can convey important concepts, and that you don’t need 20 hours of a rambling pre-recorded video. Another trend is an increased use of collaboration tools, which includes video chats, text chats, document collaboration, mind-mapping, etc. There are many positive trends, but the most important is probably the wider acceptance of online learning.
What is unique about the NovoEd learning platform?
For a really long time, online courses faced challenges bridging the gap between concepts to application to someone’s particular setting. That last jump, when a learner should really apply a concept to a specific area of work, is where 90% of training falls down. One of the reasons why I’m excited about the experiential learning approach in online learning is because you can actually have people try things out in their native environments, come back and reflect and report on it and discuss it with colleagues and peers. Reaching across that barrier between knowing a concept and actually applying it in a real scenario is the big prize, and I think collaborative, experiential learning is a great way to do that. The NovoEd platform is optimized to enable this.
What is a current project that you’re working on?
I’m currently working on finalizing a 12-week course for a Fortune 100 media company designed for new sales managers. This is exciting because sales managers are generally under-invested in, yet are considered the key group in a sales force, because they are responsible for managing and coaching salespeople. But because they are so busy, they are forced to learn on the job and generally don’t go to many training programs. That will change with this course. I’m collaborating with a colleague to develop this based on the company’s own training materials. But we are creating new exercises, scenario quizzes, roleplays, and applied assignments to really help these sales managers learn the broad range of managerial skills they would not naturally pick up from years of being a great salesperson. It is gratifying to be a part of bringing something new like this to the organization.
What makes you excited to come to work every day at NovoEd?
I love the openness at NovoEd. First, the office space itself is open, with plenty of natural light and plenty of space for collaboration or individual work. I also like the openness of pursuing different areas of interest, whether that is a specific project or diving in to an area of interest. Finally, the people are very open–we have great discussions on a wide variety of topics (the principles of andragogy, or whether parents were to blame in the Silverback gorilla zoo shooting, etc.). It’s just a great collegial culture.
What’s been your favorite team event so far?
We went to the California Academy of Sciences where I actually held a human brain–it felt like a large peeled chestnut. But it was definitely neat to see this 3-pound organ that fit into my hands, the source and target of all the learning that we ever get to do throughout our lives.