Thinking Outside The Box: How Physical Space Has Been Holding Us Back

By: Meet in Place content team

Kaltura is rethinking the methods of acquiring education long after graduation, as an ongoing practice. Jeff Rubenstein, VP Product Strategy, discusses the endless potential of online education and knowledge sharing.

Powering the education system for millions of children through live broadcasting, recorded lectures and virtual classrooms, video management provider Kaltura is leading the way to a revolution in education. Without the constraints of a physical space, the possibilities of education are endless; from kindergarten through college and well into your workplace training. “There is no reason that the methods of education should be in the confines of physical spaces”, says Jeff Rubenstein, VP Product Strategy at Kaltura. “The model of one teacher and 20-30 students is a result of what you can fit in one room, but rooms are no longer an issue. So now we are able to ask the question – is that the best way to educate? As an operational model, the possibilities open to us now online are much richer than they were before.”

The speed of change right now is so fast that we have to change how we think about learning and development and build that into an everyday work process

How is this crisis changing online education?

“Education and online work have been going through a digital transformation process for some time. What this crisis has done is accelerate that process with the necessity to move very fast, faster than people were prepared for. What we have accomplished in the past couple of months is what would have happened anyway, but it would have taken 2-3 years. Instead it has happened within the course of 2-3 months.”

In Israel, Kaltura is powering the K-12 education system (kindergarten through 12th grade). “Teachers are going to a studio and basically live broadcasting, as well as being recorded for rebroadcasting. The students at home all have the schedule, and they watch the lessons. They can watch other lessons too, so if you’re an advanced 2nd grader, you can watch 3rd grade math. It’s all there, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. After the content lesson delivery is done, the kids break off into smaller groups for Q&A and discussion through Kaltura’s virtual classroom tool. This is also a great way to make sure kids get the attention and instructions that suit their level of understanding. In a physical classroom, it’s really hard to get students at the lower or higher level the input they need. This kind of delivery method makes it easy to organize kids into appropriate groups, which is really hard to do if you are stuck between 4 walls with one teacher.”

What we have accomplished in the past couple of months is what would have happened anyway, but it would have taken 2-3 years. Instead it has happened within the course of 2-3 months.

What are some of the challenges you face right now?

“We have to deliver continued education and that’s been challenging, not technologically because the technology is all there. The challenges are mostly operational, how do you organise the efforts – getting the right kids in the right class. We need to provide training, getting teachers up to speed so they are able to use the technologies and tools. But possibly the biggest challenge we face is culture, that’s always the hardest change when it comes to using new technology. Technology works in a cultural context, and when unexpected change happens, and tech begins driving things like we see now, the culture can react badly. There’s always a resistance to change, that’s why the feedback we are getting now is important. You can’t just throw technology over the wall and assume that everyone knows how to use it or can implement it successfully. Tech and practice go together; you can take the best system in the world, but if you implement it poorly you’re going to have a terrible experience.”

How can online education and knowledge sharing be used by companies and corporates?

“What is interesting is how the ongoing knowledge sharing, training and communication will transform. The speed of change right now is so fast that we have to change how we think about learning and development and build that into an everyday work process. Josh Bersin talks about learning in the flow of work. New stuff comes out every day. By the time you complete all the training – it’s out of date. It makes no sense to think about training with a ‘waterfall method’ – experts create material, it goes to a designer, then gets put on LMS. That’s the instructional model for online learning in corporations for the last 20 years and it doesn’t make sense anymore.”

The better you can democratize knowledge and give people the ability to share things they have learned with each other, the better performing you will be as a company

What needs to change so that corporations can improve training and upskilling?

“We need to rethink how we share knowledge in a more agile manner. What is needed is to create a better flow of communication-collaboration-training-communication, but at a distance. We need to rethink our toolkit of how we share and how we measure knowledge, especially when presence and attendance is no longer something that we care about as much, even if we could measure it. The better you can democratize knowledge and give people the ability to share things they have learned with each other, the better performing you will be as a company. It’s really hard to capture everything people know in a formal way, partly because it takes a lot of effort, collecting the knowledge, designing and implementing it. Anywhere you have people who know things about clients, processes, procedures etc. people figure things out and say ‘hey, here is a better way to do it’. Maybe they will tell their friend about it, but in fact there are 4,000 people in that company who can use that information. If you could get that information distributed properly you’d be alot more effective as a company. The only way to distribute information effectively is if it’s somewhere everyone can find it, that’s why distributing information virtually is way more effective.”

Skills move so fast, employers can’t expect to hire people straight out of school with all of the skills needed in the future, they need to invest and train their employees in an ongoing way

Without the training and attendance, what are the challenges in measuring your employees’ knowledge and abilities?

“In the old days, the model of instruction was to tell you a whole bunch of stuff and then give you a test as an assessment of what you have learned. Now in this new world, where we want learning to be embedded in all your work processes, we need to look at assessment as ongoing as well. For instance, providing training in ongoing bite sized ‘bits’, and then requiring that the employee does something to show they understand it. By doing this you can start looking at each of the important ‘bits’ as skills. Then you can start getting an inventory of what skills look like across your entire enterprise. Skills are changing so fast, we need to be able to take skill inventory. With this inventory HR can be more strategic and say ‘in the next three years, we anticipate we will need this number of people with these skills, here is where we are today, now we understand the gap that we either have to upskill or hire for’. Corporations now understand that they need to invest in their employees again, train and upskill them, and that this has value for employees as well as for the employers. Skills move so fast, employers can’t expect to hire people straight out of school with all of the skills needed in the future, they need to invest and train their employees in an ongoing way.”

Finally, can the move to online information sharing change how we interact offline as well?

“It’s certainly true that we’re going to be relying more on video technologies, even if we won’t communicate fully through video. Physical space is going to be thought of differently – what can it offer us? What can virtual space offer us? I love the idea that this moment breaks our reliance on how things have always been done. Now we can ask: ‘Should we do it this way?’ In some cases we may find that we should. For instance, a face-to-face meeting because some things are still better in person. Just as some things are better virtually. Every space has pros and cons, but let’s use those spaces for the purpose that they are uniquely fit for.”

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