Many B2B businesses are starting to recognize education of both their buyers as well as their own employees as a more prominent need, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This week, to discuss how companies might go about it, the Bright Ideas series by Acuity Brands® was joined by Erin Bednarek and Dani Senne: the Director of Educational Development and the Senior Manager of Training and Education, respectively.
WHY CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT OPTIMIZED WITH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING?
More so than many other products, lighting is a particularly personal experience. It’s difficult to understand merely from reading a manual or looking at pictures. One might compare it to traveling abroad: seeing a friend’s souvenirs or photos from their own trip can’t compare with taking the trip for yourself.
To meet this need, Acuity Brands has lighting centers across the United States where customers can come in and experience the difference in lighting for themselves.
The physical act of handling or just seeing these lights introduces more variety into Acuity Brands’ curriculum. That goes a long way, Dani explained, as one of their biggest challenges when educating customers is just, “not power-pointing them to death.”
It’s important to find ways to keep adult learners engaged so they will learn and retain all of the information they need to make an educated decision in the lighting market. Acuity Brands also uses these sessions as opportunities to strengthen relationships with their guests, as well as establish their expertise in the lighting industry.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING?
Instead of merely keeping students seated or taking notes on presentations, Acuity Brands weaves in activities like simple trivia games or jeopardy-style quizzes to help with basic memory recall.
As learners become more familiar with the materials, they’re sometimes asked to apply the correct lighting controls or light fixture in a certain application. Beyond that, they go on to retrofit activities where they handle the product itself, and remove an old light in place of installing a new one. They can also practice with lighting controls firsthand to increase or decrease the brightness of the lights.
Next, adult students leave the classroom and visit locations where Acuity Brands fixtures are already installed, so they get to see it in a real application environment.
Activities like this are important because they mirror skills or techniques that the adult students will very likely need to apply in the real world as well.
Granted, learning in-person isn’t as much of an option for many clientele anymore. To supplement physical absence, Acuity Brands has established their on-demand portal, Acuity Academy, with plenty of materials– including videos, and Virtual Instructor LED classes, and webinars that feature industry leaders talking about relevant and current topics.
WHAT LEARNING STYLES SHOULD COMPANIES EMPLOY IN THEIR EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS?
When it comes to education and curriculum, one size does not fit all. Acuity Brands has put together a wide offering because they recognize that not all learners acquire skills and knowledge in the same way. They employ different techniques to engage visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners alike.
Teaching in the lighting industry is also tricky because controls technology is in a nearly constant state of rapid change. However, Acuity Brands strives to have the most up-to-date experiential learning available to them. That means bringing in new controls for their students to interact with whenever current technology changes and is launched to the public.
This goal of delivering best-in-quality courses also includes interactive training that is sometimes tailored even down to the individual. It may take more effort, but those personalized sessions are requested most often and receive the most positive feedback.
The other major offering that Acuity Brands focuses on is their online and on-demand offering. Their social media presence includes several just-in-time learning materials on social media, and Acuity Academy is available 24/7 and allows students to choose their materials and learn at their own pace. Acuity Brands uses many of these e-learnings as prerequisites for some of their in-person courses. This helps establish some common knowledge for learners before they even come into the classroom, so they can spend that time in more physically immersive activities and experiential learning.
One of the aspects of the lighting process included in Acuity Brands’ lighting curriculum is the process of replacing fixtures in a space, particularly for the purposes of improvement or renovation. Next week, we’ll address solutions surrounding the costs and sustainability of such activities.
Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get every new episode, blog article, and content offer sent directly to your inbox.