JetBlue was off the ground and running (or should we say flying?), and Mike Barger, vice president and chief learning officer, was steeped in the construction of JetBlue University, when he realized there was a hole in his program; as skilled and brimming with real world experience as his instructors were, they lacked a formal education on designing instruction for adults
"I would go out into our operation, and I would find operational experts to become my teachers," Barger says. "So, I had this wonderful credibility factor that was built into my educators because they had been there, done that, on the front lines, but what they didn’t have was any kind of formal education in education
Sensing that he and his employees' answer lay in establishing a relationship with an academic college or university, Barger began seeking. And, seeking and seeking. The problem was there were no takers. But Barger at last found a receptive audience in New York University (NYU). Facilitated by Doug Lynch, the former assistant dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at NYU (now vice dean at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania), the fledgling company developed a series of programs designed to train JetBlue University instructors to better educate adult learners. Lynch and Barger, who met at a training conference, discovered they had similar points of view.
"We sat down and introduced ourselves, and started to talk about why he was there, and why I was there, and we started on a napkin to sketch out this opportunity for NYU to create a train-the-trainer program, or what we call our Master of Corporate Faculty Development Program," Barger says.
The result is a program composed of five two-day blocks in which all 205 JetBlue University instructors attend classes at NYU. To accommodate the schedules of JetBlue instructors, classes are held every couple of weeks, with students flown in and lodged in New York by the company for three days at a time. Altogether, 15 learning modules are covered in 10 days. "It's very rigorous, and there’s a lot of pre-work and post-work," Barger says. "It's run in a very traditional, collegiate environment, and for a lot of my faculty, it's their first exposure to a formal education." Topics covered include adult learning theory, building learning objectives, assessments and surveys, gap analysis and methods for aligning learning with business initiatives.
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