Integrating networked learning into existing manager training program


The learning solutions described below focus on two specific innovations: 1) integrating ESN-centered networked learning into an existing new manager onboarding program 2) engaging managers at different levels through a MOOC-enabled community of inquiry.

Who is this for?

These solutions were designed for a multinational organization. The participants are managers working in any of the company’s divisions globally. The first solution builds on the organization’s current onboarding by adding an ESN component to the existing asynchronous and classroom program. The second solutions seeks to improve on the classroom training developed for managers regionally by providing a MOOC-driven experience that is consistent and focused on high-leverage content. The organization is a legacy manufacturing firm with little experience with ESN and MOOCs. That said, it sees networked learning as consistent with its values of mutuality, responsibility and efficiency, and is open to using ESN and MOOC as tools to help managers practice and apply and these values.

How might it work?

The learning solutions developed for this case give managers an opportunity to operate as a learning network thus accelerating their capabilities and improving performance.

The first solution focuses on integrating ESN technology into the existing three-phase new manager curriculum. The second solution provides ongoing exploration for established managers. The goal is to shift isolated learners toward becoming networked learners.


Solution 1: Networked Onboarding

  • During the first three months of the onboarding, the new managers work asynchronously through assigned reading and e-learning.  In this phase, participants are divided into teams with each team assigned a private space in the ESN. The teams use the ESN to work on assignments together.
  • Midway through the onboarding, the new managers convene for a weeklong onsite. At the onsite participants use ESN to work out loud (WOL); the WOL session is public on the company-wide portion of the ESN.
  • Following the onsite, new managers practice and demonstrate key job skills. During this phase, the ESN continue to serve as a convening space for the cohort. During this time:
    • Small teams work together on a case study.
    • Participants share assignments and reflections with their cohort.
    • Opportunities to use the ESN to meet other new and senior managers are added to the mix.

Solution 2: Creating a Managers’ Community of Inquiry

After completing the on-boarding process, all managers have the opportunity to continue to upgrade their skills by participating in a managers-only MOOC.

  • A cohort of managers segmented by business area but at all levels of seniority and working across all regions participate in the same MOOC.
  • The focus of the course are topics identified as current management priorities (e.g. employee retention and recruitment)

During the MOOC participants will have an opportunity to:

  • Explore already available knowledge-resources on the topic of the MOOC—e.g. policy documents, material on current best practices, topic-related data, etc.
  • Engage in offline discovery with co-workers
  • Use blog posts, vlogs, discussion posts, and other interactions to develop and share their own insights on the topic


Besides potential resource issues with the implementation of this ESN, the primary concern would be around sustained engagement with the technology. Initial use of the technology will be required as part of the training but once the manager training officially ends, will the managers:

  • Continue to see value in the ESN?
  • Be motivated to contribute knowledge on the ESN or in the MOOC?
  • Expand beyond their existing network on the ESN and participate fully in the MOOC?
  • Challenge themselves on how else to maximize the features of networked learning?


Prior to investing in a customized ESN platform and full implementation, it is possible to use a publicly free platform such as Twitter to adapt a modified integration with a training course. While there would be inherent differences that could impact the level of comfort of the learners, the training instructors could still expect participation as long as it is part of the curriculum requirements to contribute to a community created via hashtags before, during, and after training.

Innovation developed by:

Masha Alexander
Kristin Colber-Baker
Heidi Hartman
Lynn Huang
Jordan Rickard
Liz Young

MSLOC 430 Spring 2016