Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Graphic Novels as Learning Tools

 -  11/30/12

Like many organizations, Girl Scouts of the USA is challenged when integrating multiple generations into cohesive, effective teams. Perhaps the most challenging to reach are the millennials, who want hands-on learning participation.

Girl Scouting operates through a network of 850,000 adult volunteers who are supported by approximately 8,000 staff members distributed throughout 112 councils and a national headquarters. Together, this network covers every ZIP code in the United States and includes adults from ages 19 to 90. While technology has helped to bridge distances, it has changed work and learning expectations for each generation in different ways.

Girl Scouts of the USA knew it needed to bring about higher levels of teamwork across the generations in light of conditions facing not only the Girl Scouts but many organizations, including a geographically dispersed audience, a highly diverse adult population and limited funds.

Earlier this year, the company built a facilitator-led classroom program titled Harnessing the Power of Your Multi-Generational Workforce and offered it to its members in-person through Girl Scouts University (GSU). The program targeted the Girl Scouts workforce as a whole, instilling in its staff the idea that each generation has its own take on issues such as how and when to use technology. This three-hour program focused on the advantages and challenges of a multigenerational workforce. Participants discussed generational approaches to topics such as communication, social media, conflict, flexibility and leadership hierarchies. Participants included adult staff and volunteers across the organization.

Participants rated this facilitator-led session a 4.9 on a five-point scale, but, while successful, the program needed to be revamped and put in an electronic format to reach geographically dispersed audiences, which include more than 270 administrative sites and approximately 430 program sites, plus overseas offices.

As the learning group within Girl Scouts assessed how to engage different generations of adult learners in issues such as communication, rewards and recognition, social media and workplace flexibility, it knew that reaching the millennial generation would be a particular challenge.

Girl Scouts’ Instructional Design Quest
Before stumbling across the use of graphic novels, the Girls Scouts experimented with a variety of learning methodologies. Videos, social media tools, lectures, case studies and other typical instructional design methodologies were used, but feedback from trainers and staff told the organization they were not engaging enough. The dilemma of engaging millennials, the future leaders of the movement, was of particular urgency. A 2011 membership survey of Girl Scouts’ volunteer population indicated that more than 50 percent of the volunteers are millennials or Gen Xers, and that number is expected to grow.


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