Once upon a time, in a company far far away there was a Teacher. An this Teacher was no ordinary teacher, it was the best teacher of the company, nay, the best teacher in any company. Years of experience, practice, failure and passion for teaching enabled this Teacher to very accurately read all audiences in the classroom. Who was lurking? who was lost? Who was ahead of the rest? It was almost like the Teacher could feel, see, hear and even sense the mood and the engagement of every participant. Like the Teacher could feel, see, hear and sense how well participants were taking new knowledge on board. Like the Teacher could feel, see, hear and sense how well the participants were developing their new skills…..
And all the information that the Teacher took in was, as almost an afterthought, used to take a very personal approach to teaching. To decide who required additional support, or who required additional challenges. It was also used to make a joke or two to lighten the atmosphere in the room when needed. To really understand the audience, and be able to translate examples and complex concepts to the context of the work people in the classroom were doing day after day.
And naturally, the Teacher organized the best ever lunches!
The Teacher was shown great respect by all in the company. Even the Boss was impressed by the Teacher’s qualities to transfer new knowledge and skills to the workers, and through this increase productivity and quality, and reduce costs.
The success of the company grew, also thanks to the Teacher, and more countries were served. And the customer space grew from only a handful in the beginning to thousands…..and then 10s of thousands….and after many years of hard work, it even grew to millions of happy customers. Nobody knows exactly how many customers this company has now, but it could even be a few billion!
With this growth, the demands on the teacher grew as well. New workers had to be brought in on a scale never seen before. And all these new workers had to the taught the tricks of the trade. Because the business of this company was, and still is, very unique in the world. Experienced workers had to be trained as well, so that they would become more flexible and could be allocated to where they were needed the most.
Right after the busiest time of the last year, the Teacher was truly exhausted and went to the Boss to speak about the problem of having to do so much more work. The Teacher explained that the love for teaching was still there, but that the teaching needs of the company we now so big, that it was impossible to continue like this. The boss looked at the sorry state of the Teacher and agreed something had to be done. “Go on a long holiday, and think deep about how we could solve this dilemma”, the Boss said to the Teacher.
And so the Teacher went to a holiday resort in the snow and spent three weeks of hiking, skiing, meeting new people, having lots of hot chocolates and….exploring possible solutions for the problem. And after three weeks, the Teacher came back and presented a fantastic new plan to use technology and AI to teach workers. The Teacher explained to the Boss that technology and AI would allow the Teacher to reach a much larger audience compared to teaching classes of each 18 participants. That workers could learn whenever they want, and where ever they are. The Boss immediately understood what the teacher was saying, as new technology and AI were fast becoming very important to the whole company, and gave the green light to transform teaching at the company.
The next couple of months, the Teacher worked hard to create everything that was needed for this transformation; a platform, video’s, online tests, reference materials….you name it!
All the knowledge and experiences of the teacher were transformed to digital assets. The Teacher even ‘trained’ a custom GPT to act as the Teacher’s virtual assistant for times when the workers wanted help to learn, but the Teacher was busy elsewhere.
And then the new season kicked in, and it showed all signs of being the busiest and best season ever! Both the Teacher and the Boss were extremely happy that they just implemented this new way of learning….because….boy oh boy….more new workers than ever before had to be taught the ways of the company…and existing workers had to be trained to be able to do more and more complex tasks.
Full of confidence, the Teacher deployed his digital toolkit, sat back, took another hot chocolate, and waited for the learning to happen.
But after a few days, the Teacher became restless. The Teacher actually had way less work to do compared to last year, but was more stressed and was not sleeping well. What was going on?
Things got worse when, after a few weeks, it turned out that the new workers were not picking up the teachings as well as they should. Production was slowing down, and products started to show production errors. The Boss actually came to the Teacher and asked for more digital assets: “For my part you buy training if you cannot make it yourself”, the Boss said. And so the Teacher went out and bought the best available learning content the world had to offer. And all the workers got dedicated time to learn every Friday afternoon.
The busy season was approaching fast, but things were not improving. Rather, they went from bad to worse. It seemed that the company was going to have it’s worse year ever, rather than the best year ever!
The Boss was anxious, he called the Teacher and asked for explanation. “You are the best teacher in the world. And when you taught new workers the old fashioned way, we were working as smooth and reliable as a Swiss cuckoo clock! And now things are a mess! How can it be that the best teacher in the world all of a sudden lost the ability to teach?”. The Teacher sat down and looked very distressed. Nobody likes to fail. And nobody liked to hear such words from their boss. The truth was that the teacher had no idea what was wrong and why workers were not learning what they needed to learn to create the most amazing toys…uhhh products…..The Teacher had worked very hard and poured all it’s knowledge, skills and experiences in creating the best possible digital learning experiences. Why were they not working?
The Teacher decided to talk to some of the experienced workers. The ones that once upon a time were trained in the classroom and now use the digital stuff. The workers mentioned how they longed to be back in the classroom, but they all understood that with the growth of the company, it was impossible to continue teaching like this. “What was so amazing about you as a Teacher”, they said, “was your ability to listen to us, to almost read our minds….You were able to understand exactly what we needed to learn and adapted your teachings to it. So if we needed more practice, you gave us more practice. If we needed more time to understand, you gave us more time. If we did not recognize the example, you came up with a different example that did related directly to our work.”
“Now, with the new digital stuff, we do not get that personal attention from you anymore. And so we struggle more to understand new things, and we struggle more to take on new tasks….. And yes, before I forget….. Most of the time, we cannot even find what we are looking for, because there is so much available! And in all honestly…. sometimes the titles and descriptions of lessons are so strange that we actually do not know what they mean!
The Teacher was puzzled and fully understood what the workers said. Some titles were indeed a bit odd, but there has not been any time to look into that with all the content that had to be published and all the learning libraries that had to be procured. That would be something that could easily be fixed.
But how to on earth was the Teacher supposed to know the exact needs of the workers when there is no classroom where he could see them? When there is no way for the teacher to feel, see, hear and even sense the mood and the engagement of every participant? “It’s almost like I am blind and I am trying to find my way home through the forest…”, the Teacher thought. “How can I better understand the behavior, engagement and learning transfer of workers, if I cannot see them?
The Teacher went to bed that night with these disturbing thoughts on his mind and fell into a deep sleep. The Teacher dreamed about a treasure. A treasure chest that was buried deep beneath the snow on a far away mountaintop. This treasure was said to contain the answer and solution to all his problems. But is was hard to get to it. It required traveling through strange lands, solving complex puzzles and learn new skills. The Teacher even had to learn a completely new language that was very different from the native language of the Teacher. But the dream also showed that the Teacher was not alone on this quest. Many others had discovered this treasure. And many others were trying to find it. Some actually were already using that which was inside the treasure chest to great effect! The Teacher realized that this quest could not be done alone, but there was help available!
The teacher worked hard. Very hard. At first it was difficult to understand how to get to the treasure and how to use it. And the Teacher was ready to give up. But with courage, curiosity, persistence and the help of many others, the Teacher slowly started to realize that the quest to find the treasure was the most important thing ever for the company. And after a final push, the Teacher found the treasure, opened the chest and discovered what the treasure was:
All these workers generate data while they are working and learning. And all that data can be analyzed to better understand the workers challenges, needs and opportunities. And while workers learn online, data tells you how well they are doing. If they grasp new complex concepts, if they learn new skills, if they are motivated to learn. Or not.
The teacher understood that this data can be used to ‘feel, see, hear and even sense’ the mood and the engagement of every participant. And to ‘feel, see, hear and sense’ how well participants were taking new knowledge on board. And to ‘feel, see, hear and sense’ how well the participants were developing their new skills…..
The Teacher understood at last that through data, the Teacher could sense which of the online lessons were working, and which ones not. The Teacher understood that through data, lessons could be continuously monitored and improved to fit the needs of the workers and create maximum impact to the performance of the company.
All there was ‘left’ to do now for the Teacher, was to learn how to harvest all that data, and how to analyze it to make learning experiences truly meaningful, personal and effective.
And with that thought……the Teacher woke up.
Now, we all know that we dream. But we also know that it’s really hard to remember dreams when you wake up.
So the big question we now have to ask ourselves is this.
Did the Teacher remembered the dream about how data and data analysis can truly bring great learning experiences to workers and contribute to more and better toys…uhhhh…products. Or will the Teacher have forgotten all about it. And will this season be the season where this company, for the first time in it’s history, mess things up? And I mean…. really mess things up?
Alas. I do not know. Because also storytellers do not know everything.
But maybe, in a couple of days, you will find out.
If on Christmas morning, you find no presents beneath the Christmas tree, you will know that the Teacher did not remember, and the dream remained a dream.
But. If you do find presents under the tree on Christmas morning, you will know that the Teacher remembered the dream, and started using data to make a real impact.
And you will know… that Christmas 2023 is the year when data saved Christmas.
(Images generated by Chat GPT, text generated by humans)