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Recently, I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop at the Online Learning Consortium Blended Learning Symposium.

The workshop centered on identifying competencies necessary for effective blended teaching - a hybrid methodology that combines classroom teaching methods with digital learning experiences.

Throughout the workshop, we explored the many aspects that contribute to quality in blended teaching.

Two themes particularly stood out: the importance of innovation and change, and the crucial role of collaboration.

Emphasizing Innovation and Change

In the realm of education and training, a major emphasis has been placed on working with subject matter experts (SMEs). However, there has been less focus on developing approaches for fostering collaboration across the diverse talents and expertise that are necessary when creating today's technology-connected learning environments.

The future of strategy and design in education will undeniably require a co-design approach.

This involves developing tools and processes that strategically leverage collaboration. The key takeaway is this:

it’s not just about having a great idea; it’s about how we co-design these ideas to surface the best opportunities available.

Every organization is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all strategy.

We will need to avoid the 'copy-paste' approach and instead tailor our strategies to suit the unique needs and challenges of each team or organization.

Driving Collaboration Through Co-design

To guide collaboration effectively when designing education and training experiences, robust frameworks and skilled facilitation can adapt to the unique needs of each idea, team, organization, and challenge.

As we co-design the future of learning together, it's also important to recognize that one size does not fit all.

Frameworks for collaboration serve as guiding principles that establish a structured approach for teams to work together towards a common goal.

They provide clarity on roles and responsibilities, set expectations for communication and decision-making processes, and offer tools and methodologies to support effective collaboration. However, these frameworks must be flexible enough to accommodate the diverse range of ideas and challenges encountered in educational settings.

Skilled facilitation also plays an integral role in driving successful collaboration.

A skilled facilitator possesses important interpersonal skills along with a deep understanding of how groups work together. They can create an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and valued while ensuring that discussions stay focused on achieving desired outcomes.

Actions for Leaders

For those in leadership positions, here are some valuable actions to explore that will help support co-design in the teams and organizations you lead:

  • Invest in People and Opportunities for Collaboration: Actively bring people together to create and innovate. Investing in human experiences is key for fostering a culture of collaboration.

  • Transform Ideas into Actionable Formats: Move ideas into formats that can be acted upon and learned from. This will allow continuous improvements and adaptation.

  • Build Your Playbook for Change: Document your ideas, make them visible, and create tools that your team can use in their work flow. A playbook that includes these assets in an easy-to-access and use format will be a guide in navigating change within your organization.

  • Integrate Innovation: Innovation should not be a separate entity, but rather, it should be integrated and continuous. It needs to be a core part of your organization's culture and processes. 


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