[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by guest author Taylor Kearns, Supervisor of Training, Tech Support, and Communications in the Disability Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. This is a standalone follow up to our Stories of Positivity in L&D blog post from early April. Taylor went above and beyond in his reflective and heartfelt approach, and we hope it resonates with all of you like it did with us. Thank you, Taylor!]

Just a few months ago, life was very different for all of us. Kids had birthday parties at parks. People shopped at stores. Professionals went to their offices. Students went to school. COVID-19 has changed all of that dramatically. As we all experience the effects of this global pandemic, technology has served to sustain us on so many levels. Kids have virtual birthday parties on Google Hangouts. People shop on their phones for all of their needs online. Professionals work from a home office. Students go to school online.

As training and learning professionals, many aspects of our work are changing faster than we could ever imagine. The companies and organizations we all work for are undoubtedly facing a variety of challenges and looking to technology-based solutions to support their training and learning activities. We are being asked to move classroom training online. We are being asked to develop new training strategies to address COVID-19 related changes in our business. We are being asked to stand up new learning management systems to support new training capabilities. It is also likely that we are also being asked to do it quickly. Because you know, training and learning professionals are magicians. (Joke flag)

Out of chaos arises opportunity and as we all go through these unprecedented changes together, I think about the opportunity we have as training and learning professionals. There are opportunities to share knowledge, perspectives, strategies, and success stories, and to support fellow colleagues in their work. Things are changing fast and the more that we can share and connect, the better we will be able to help our organizations adapt and to provide learners with a meaningful and engaging learning experience.

How do we do that? The first thing we need to do is to actively contribute to our community of training and learning professionals. Many of you have been contributing for years and continue to be assets to our community. But I will be the first to admit, I am not someone who engages much with our local training and learning community. I have a family. I work for the State of Minnesota. Working on my house is a part-time job in itself. I have many hobbies and interests. Time is always in short supply. Further, I am not someone who puts myself out there much (other than when the good people at Fredrickson Learning ask me to write something) because it is scary to do. Finding the time and courage to contribute is a challenge but I feel that those of us who “lurk” in our communities have much to offer. I would ask that you look for opportunities to contribute to the local training and learning community as we all confront the changes and challenges in our work.

What does this look like? Ask questions. Share ideas and experiences. Problem-solve issues and challenges. We can use our collective knowledge and experience to support our work, our organizations and our audiences. For example, I would love to hear how each of our organizations are dealing with changes to our training strategies and operations based on the impact of COVID-19. We can learn from each other and help identify possible solutions to our own work challenges. Because we are unable to meet in person, I will engage more frequently on social platforms I use like LinkedIn, Twitter and for connecting with my State of Minnesota colleagues, Yammer. I will attend more virtual events. I will read more articles and posts from colleagues. We have so much to share and we can all benefit from our collective knowledge and experiences. Look me up on LinkedIn and send me an invite. I want to follow you and see what is going on in your work and your organizations.

I look forward to seeing your contributions to the training and learning community as we navigate through this situation. We lurkers can go back to lurking after this is over. 🙂

Thank you to the Fredrickson Learning crew for the opportunity to connect with you. Be safe, be thoughtful and stay connected. Best wishes to you all.

-Taylor

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