Jet Blue University: A Case For Web 2.0 Experimentation

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 10.14.08

JBU Resized

Murry Christensen, Director of Learning Technologies and Mike Barger, Chief Learning Officer, both at JetBlue University (JBU), the training arm for JetBlue, had a vision in 2007: to create a way for JetBlue’s dispersed faculty of 200 to come together online, share best practices, and contribute to the collective pool of knowledge at JetBlue. Christensen turned to blog-based collaboration software from Awareness Networks to achieve this.

A new report about Enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, by Awareness, Inc., shows that employers are increasingly allowing staff to use social media applications in working hours. Awareness puts the figure at 69 percent of businesses in 2008, up from 37 percent last year.

It’s the latest in a string of reports this year - from Awareness, Forrester and others - which provide data about the growth of web 2.0 in the enterprise. It’ll be a $4.6 Billion industry by 2013, according to Forrester.

The software selected provided a vehicle for JetBlue faculty to talk to one another, not just about process improvements in learning & development, but also to share photos from family vacations, weddings and birthdays. The thinking behind this choice was that as the faculty got to know one another better as individuals, they would more easily share lessons and best practices as professionals.

Discussion on the blog, which operates more like an online forum, has, in Christensen’s mind, done an excellent job of uniting the JBU faculty as a more cohesive team while also allowing for an easy exchange of knowledge.

Christensen blogs each week and usually tackles a provocative topic such as the one above entitled: Who Owns My Learning History? His goal in this is to engage the faculty in timely topics and have them suggest improvements. In this particular blog post, he suggests a solution: a smartcard to hold one’s learning transcript. In the past six months since inception, almost 50% of the JetBlue faculty members have been posting and commenting on the forum.

The goal I see in all of this is to create a community of practice first among learning & development professionals—to challenge them to be the Web 2.0 pioneers for the firm. As the JetBlue example illustrates, the process of getting to know one another better through the use of these technologies can smoothly segue into suggesting ways to use these tools to increase innovation and collaboration across enterprises.
Is your firm doing this? What lessons have you uncovered?

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  1. Tracy Needham, October 15, 2008:

    I’d be so curious to hear how well JetBlue is achieving its goal. Before starting my own business, I created a competitive affairs function for the company and one of the biggest challenges for us–and many companies it seems–is how to share all the in-house knowledge and expertise with one another. There’s always just so much untapped potential because the people that could really leverage the information doesn’t know it exists.

    But of course, only part of the problem is technical. Even when you provide a means to share, they still don’t often do it because of a lack of time or other reasons. Perhaps adding the personal element as they did here will help.



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