The training program: the training dashboard
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Prior to Covid-19, Geoffrey would run his marketing courses face-to-face and have in-person meetings with students and businesses. However, due to the pandemic, this was no longer possible and Geoffrey was forced to go remote, which was something he had never done before. This pushed him to look for tools to help students to engage and be more productive in a virtual classroom setting – and he choses Klaxoon because of its proven success with prestigious institutions in the education sector, such as Harvard Business School and London Business School.
Geoffrey Stewart is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is the LEED Center Director and the Moody Companies/BORSF Endowed Chair in Regional Business Development. He has over 15 years’ experience in applied research and MBA course service projects to boost regional economic development initiatives focusing on recovery and resilience within Louisiana communities. In July 2018, his research team received a USDA Rural Development grant to build an economic development strategy for the seafood industry in local parishes on the Acadian Coast. Geoffrey uses Klaxoon in tandem with Microsoft Teams to hold his MBA and undergraduate training sessions remotely and carry out project teamwork with students and external companies.
Prior to Covid-19, Geoffrey would run his marketing courses face-to-face and have in-person meetings with students and businesses. However, due to the pandemic, this was no longer possible and Geoffrey was forced to go remote, which was something he had never done before. This pushed him to look for tools to help students to engage and be more productive in a virtual classroom setting – and he choses Klaxoon because of its proven success with prestigious institutions in the education sector, such as Harvard Business School and London Business School. By implementing the Klaxoon Board into his lessons, he manages to improve the overall student experience and reach unprecedented levels of engagement, thereby enhancing his teaching pedagogy and adapting it to any learning environment, whether traditional, remote or hybrid.
I discovered a better solution than what we were actually doing before. […] It’s new, it’s cool but most importantly effective.
Each semester, Geoffrey and his students work on projects involving outside companies, mainly minority-owned and rural businesses ranging from cleaning companies to farmers’ markets and coffee shops but also personal coaches and a live music venue, which need help in building or improving their marketing strategies. Last semester, there were 10 teams of 3-4 students each working with 10 different companies over the entire semester (approximately 10 weeks). The Covid-19 crisis and subsequent social distancing measures turned this into a real challenge, as teachers, students and businesses were no longer able to meet up on campus to work on their projects.
Following the COVID-19 crisis, Geoffrey decided to use Klaxoon because it provides a complete suite of collaborative tools which could be easily implemented, as well as a visual workspace that could be accessed by participants from anywhere they wanted, whether at home, at the office or at the faculty.
The Klaxoon Board is an easy-to-use tool which allows visual collaboration in a single place using a library of ready-to-use templates. It is a white page with unlimited size where the team can easily share ideas, prioritize them and organize them visually. Geoffrey selected four Klaxoon Strategic Analysis Tools templates (the SWOT Analysis, Customer Persona, Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas) from the Klaxoon Template Library and shared them with each group for them to work on based on a collaborative learning approach. Geoffrey explains that by using these boards not only does he manage to improve the students’ learning curve, but he is also able to face what he feels is the most difficult challenge of remote work: having to create or adapt teaching tools to an online setting.
A Klaxoon template is a ready-to-use method, table or pattern inspired by industry standards, agile methods and best practices from the Klaxoon community. Every template provides the user with a preview, a general overview and step-by-step instructions on how to use it so that it can be understood and implemented effortlessly and instantly even without any prior knowledge of that method. Each element of the board can be easily modified, customized or deleted to suit the trainer’s needs and the board’s content can be visually organized using a complete toolbar which includes a wide range of colors, fonts, brushes and connectors, as well as patterns, designs and shapes. This means that the trainer can effectively work with a tailor-made tool without wasting time and energy in creating one from scratch, thereby making information accessible and visual and managing projects more efficiently.
Organizing breakout rooms with Teams and Board
The integration of the Klaxoon platform into Microsoft Teams proves to be a winning combination as it enables Geoffrey to create ten different teams in order to organize teamwork. In addition to a general tab for the whole classroom, he creates an individual tab (or channel) for each group. Within each team channel, Geoffrey can share posts, web links, images, files, sketches and templates with the members of that team only, as opposed to having to send them to the entire classroom. This allows each group to work independently and at the same time gives him the chance as a trainer to open the students’ analysis at any time and monitor their progress, without having to wait for them to turn in their assignments.
Each student group had a dedicated channel, allowing them to work independently and enabling the trainer to engage with them and check on their work.
Combining Klaxoon and MS Teams creates efficiency and improves time management: meetings are not only more efficient and participative, but also shorter than traditional ones, as there are less small talk, and Geoffrey is able to switch from one channel to the other to engage with his teams in real time. This means he can schedule videoconferences and create live meetings at any time, whenever other participants are available, simply by clicking on the “meet” button: the professor and his students can therefore synchronize, interacting and giving or receiving feedback in real time while keeping the board in sight, in order to broaden the debate or solve problems without having to wait for a formal meeting to be scheduled. This is an excellent way of increasing participation and responsiveness, which also helps to compensate for the lack of body language and impromptu interactions typical of a traditional learning environment. At the end of a meeting, they can even share the board with the clients and ask for their feedback, thus making the most of their collaborative learning experience.
Geoffrey uses the four Klaxoon Strategic Analysis Tools templates (the SWOT Analysis, Customer Persona, Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas) to cover all of his project requirements. He starts with the SWOT Analysis template, which he modifies and customizes by adding extra information based on his needs. Compared to traditional SWOT analysis, students do not just “fill in the boxes” but manage to reach new levels of detail, brainstorming and collecting ideas which can then be put aside or moved around, following the client’s feedback, without getting lost. Geoffrey also replicates the SWOT analysis template and reuses it to develop further relationships between SWOT analysis variables, thereby reaching an unequalled level of detail. Students even get to use the Klaxoon linking tool to match strengths and opportunities.
This has been a very powerful tool for us because it really makes the SWOT analysis come alive.
Geoffrey Stewart, Marketing Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
A continuous learning experience
Geoffrey points out that, as they move forward in their project, the teams would continue learning and identifying new opportunities for their customers, thereby enriching their work day by day in a process of continuous learning. Thus, the professor decides not to grade students after each task but to wait until all the tasks have been performed so that students are able to review and update each of the templates up until the very end, making the final product much more refined and complete.
Increase student engagement and productivity through visual learning
The benefits of visual learning
Students tend to respond positively to visual learning because it brings class concepts to life: using Klaxoon templates allows students to familiarize with this learning format and actually “see” things happening on the board, while working hand in hand with their professor and local businesses throughout the entire process. This helps them to visually understand how to link concepts together. Furthermore, students will no longer focus on the type of business they are working on but on the business itself: whether glamourous or not, a business is a business and by finding new opportunities for that company they actually got to feel part of the project and ultimately become more productive and effective consultants, thereby benefiting their clients’ marketing strategy.
Geoffrey has always distinguished himself for his proactive, engaging teaching methods and Covid-19 faced him with a great challenge: how to maintain student engagement while working remotely? Klaxoon provides him with the right solution: not only it enables him to work with students and clients outside of the classroom, but it also creates an actual “flow”, in which students have the chance to see what they have to accomplish right from the start and Geoffrey is able to keep an eye on their progress, participation and difficulties, and provides feedback or address issues in real time. As a matter of fact, none of the participants are able to “hide” and this led to an unequalled level of engagement and efficiency.
From his point of view, this interactive learning method enables students to acquire new skills and achieve more impactful project results, which better reflect the way in which they will be required to work in the real world. In fact, in a professional environment they will have to work on projects and collaborate with colleagues and managers in real time, rather than working on their own for several weeks. This is what convinced Geoffrey to continue using Klaxoon as part of his teaching routine, whether working in classroom or online (or both), as it appeared to enhance the students’ skill set and better prepare them for the job market.
“Klaxoon is a catalyst for increasing engagement within your student groups, within your employee groups but it’s also a catalyst for faculty members. […] It’s the best thing that happened to my teaching in a really long time.” Geoffrey Stewart, Marketing Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
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