New Culture, New Demand for Continuous Learning
The Bridge user experience helped Hutchinson Community College revitalize students' pursuit of knowledge.
With over 90 years under their belt, Hutchinson Community College (HutchCC) provides a myriad of benefits for its stewards: on-site and online learning options; a close-knit, hometown atmosphere; over 90,000 alumni who have, in their own right, gone on to successfully create paths in the world as inventors, giants and pioneers in commerce and artists. Yet, despite all of its contributions there wasn’t an effective approach to employee and staff development - partially due to misalignments in strategy, partially to ineffective systems and partially to culture shifts within the institution itself.
However, with the scale, speed and propensity with which technology is rapidly evolving in many industries, higher education simply cannot afford to take a backseat to the quickly evolving landscape of change. If the prevailing sentiment in higher education is to make no change at all, then the challenge becomes even harder for champions who know the benefits that a learning-first mentality provides within change-averse environments. Yet, if those steadfast advocates continue with their crusade, the fruits/gravy/pot of gold is well worth it!
Loren Morris, Chief Technology Officer for Hutchinson Community College, has spent the past 28 years of his career with the College, which contributes to the depth and breadth of all technology-related, cross-functional collaboration and implementations that span many use cases and requirements. As part of his tenure, Morris noticed that professional development was something that the College didn’t do well despite several attempts to improve. “We tried to fix the issues several times, but only achieved limited success. As a result, roughly two years ago, I led an effort to establish a collaborative sub-committee called PD6 with the goal of improving professional development at HutchCC. My primary role within the committee was to act as the facilitator and change agent. The initial goal was to tackle the core issues that prevented successful adoption of a professional development program: the first root cause identified was a skeptical culture (because of prior attempts not producing the desired level of result) and second was delivering and tracking professional development (mechanism). We closely collaborated with Dr. Rhonda Corwin Director of Online Education. The Online Education team is a self directed work group that supported PD6 and their initiatives by developing and providing accessibility training, ideas through digital assets, and provided structure and process around for the Bridge implementation to effectively support the organization-wide cultural transformation for acceptance, appreciation, and adoption of professional development.
“We quickly realized that in order to change professional development culture, HutchCC needed to change the mechanism. So we set off to solve the mechanism problem. We created a rubric that the solution needed to address and Bridge checked off the boxes,” says Morris of the initial phase of the culture shift at HutchCC. The general technical requirements within the rubric included integration to the HutchCC current tech stack, responsive UI design, open REST API to account for future integration to other IT systems, custom branding, a baseline of accessibility compliance, and ability to support Single-Sign-On. Additionally, for the feature set requirements the solution had to be easy to use, providing an excellent user experience, had to support and deliver “just-in-time” training and microlearning (5-15 short bursts of training when someone had the availability for training), needed to comply with open training standards, had to track training activity, had to be device agnostic (able to be delivered to desktop and mobile devices equally), and had to provide a good return on investment (ROI). “We were also looking for a product where the company viewed us as a partner in learning rather than merely a customer who pays an annual software subscription. We found that with Instructure” says Morris.
HutchCC is experiencing a nuanced era of leveraging “just in time” learning for several internal stakeholders as the PD6 team envisioned, extending it to external business and industry partners. Through Bridge’s proven flexibility, the PD6 team envisioned fulfilling a need that would encompass the community’s need for engaging, comprehensive content to help them gain new skills or master existing competencies. “As is the case in many organizations, continuous learning must be valued to maintain relevance. The culture we are attempting to change is try to instill the importance of learning and improving oneself, regardless of one’s position. We are trying to instill knowledge gain and skill development so that continuous improvement becomes part of culture,” mentions Morris as he thought about what the impetus was that triggered the need for change.
- Professional development and continuous learning for faculty and staff
Morris recalls several attempts at making professional development part of the culture at Hutchinson, for example: top-down approach that mandated 20 hours of development that was tracked through one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers, but struggled with adoption. Mandating learning lacks purpose, and manual tracking not only lacks accountability, but also standardization which leads to a lack of reward for taking courses or consequences for not taking courses. After going through several failed attempts of the organization trying to create a viable professional development program, roughly two years ago, Morris brought the leaders of six groups, making up the PD6 who were mainly offering trainings to employees, to ultimately solve the issues around culture change related to professional development at HutchCC. Dr. Corwin adds, “The value of good, ongoing training is that it blurs the lines between learning and work. As employees encounter challenges during the day, online training support, or just in time training solutions, are now available as resources so they can continually optimize their skills. This strategy helps encourage the development of individual development plans so employees can have meaningful conversations with their managers and define those plans.”
- Supplemental instructional skill development for students
At Hutchinson Community College, they have taken the innovative approach to add supplemental skill development for students so they can add a layer of contextual skills that spans and persists across multiple classes. For example, by creating the “How to Overcome Test Anxiety” module on Bridge, it allows students to better prepare for their courses in Canvas. Other examples include instructors providing students with opportunity to engage in extra credit by leveraging a Bridge course, printing their certificate of completion and presenting it for their extra credit points. By integrating their Canvas instance, an education-specific solution offered through the Bridge’s parent company, with their Bridge solution the experience presented to students is seamless yet extremely educational. “That’s the power of Bridge. Good technology facilitates and gets out of the way!” exclaims Morris about the cohesive delivery of both intended experiences delivered to the same audience without any sacrifice on the backend - either technologically or by the instructor. HutchCC has currently piloted three of these modules but plans to expand this program to over nine in the coming semester. “This is the type of innovative approach we are experiencing because teams who have been germinating ideas now have an outlet through which we can materialize these ideas. We have had many teams come to us with training initiatives and ways they want to leverage Bridge. It opens up the freedom of learning because when you can use a tool like Bridge, it doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to be able to create and share knowledge,” adds Dr. Corwin.
- “Just-in-time” training to business and industry clients
The ability to leverage subject matter experts to easily create content that resonates with clients is another way that the HutchCC team plans to service their community. Because Bridge offers an authoring solution that is so intuitive, easy-to-use and uncomplicated, it makes access to experts much more progressive. “You just click on the media and move it over and create courses that allow for the transfer of knowledge - all done and completed very easily. Experts and authors can be from any department and we want them running on their own, stopping in for help when they need it,” mentions Dr. Corwin about the ease of creating, publishing and sharing courses with the clients. "Two of my favorite Bridge features include automated notifications sent to learners to remind them of a training opportunity, and the ability to search for training in the My Learning Library."
How HutchCC Measures Success
Constructive change in collaborative culture
As Bridge continues to make an impact at Hutchinson Community College, it’s easy to see why engagement between teams has increased exponentially. What used to be cumbersome and tedious has now been streamlined into a solution that provides equal accessibility, author access and collaboration on content, without creating arduous delays for simple edits and updates. “We’ve got a chance to make things better. Bridge is changing culture in ways that we did not anticipate. For example, on-boarding for certain teams used to be quite tense because of competing priorities but once the teams got together and collaborated within Bridge, it completely changed the way they interact,” adds Morris about the benefits of using Bridge to better facilitate the delivery of content and processes.
By leveraging Arc Video to add an additional layer of video-based social learning to their course content, HutchCC has been able to better engage their learners - while enabling for accessibility in an accurately, expedited fashion that requires minimal resources to create or maintain “Building training modules, deploying those modules, implementing closed captioning - all of it super easy and quick. I can't imagine doing it in any other system other than Bridge. It’s been a game changer for us,” comments Dr. Corwin
- HutchCC HR team has been successfully self-directing the development and deployment of all HR training with little support
- 3,000 students found Bridge on their own without any marketing, including all requests for self-provisioning of accounts and training
- Successfully deployed supervisor training with record high rate of completion
- 74% completion on all training to-date
Culture of continuous learning
Continue to instill a culture where learning is craved and consumed with a ravenous appetite. “Engagement in optional learning shows that people are interested in learning. We want others to want to learn and participate. We’re excited to see how people react in a systematic way,” says Dr. Corwin “It’s so intuitive that people want to see, explore, and learn on their own. It simply says a lot about the tool itself.” The goal for Online Education and HutchCC is to plan for a future where employees learn quickly and are trained in skills needed to complete their work. Bridge can make that happen. We want to train our people so well that they can leave for other opportunities, but they’ll be so happy that they won’t want to go anywhere else.” Dr. Corwin shares her vision of how Bridge can help the continued transformation of the learning culture at Hutchinson Community College.
To learn more about how Hutchinson Community College is preparing frontline change agents responding to change-averse organizations looking for continuous learning professional development programs with technology-first, impactful learning through Bridge Learn and Arc Video, contact us at [email protected] or 877.576.5364.