ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 26

webinars and other modes of e-learning can provide the support needed,
often at a considerably lower cost.
A recent New York
Times article2 reported
that more people than ever are
turning to online learning for everything
from public heath degrees to newly acquired
hobbies. In fact, between mid-March and mid-May,
educational sites saw enrollments seven times higher than
normal. "Crises lead to accelerations, and this is the best chance ever
for online learning," the founder of one online educational organization
said. Many of these programs have moved from broad education to more
specific and immediately usable skill-focused courses.
The benefits of e-learning are many, including cost effectiveness, gathering people across distances, students being able to hear and learn about
what other organizations are doing, and archiving lessons and experiences in
an easy organized catalogue of resources. E-learning cannot do everything
classroom learning or face-to-face coaching can do, but it is an approach
that is adaptable and can be valuable in supporting organizations as they
return to work, make desired changes and improvements, and support the
continuous learning of their workforce.
Thinking about the role of the organization in the evolution to the
future, we believe that organizations that thrive will support the growth
and development of their workforce through a wide variety of support and
educational strategies. It is time NOW to think about the guidance and
resources needed to serve and build the workforce to meet current
and future challenges. It is time NOW to engage in conversations with
your employees about how they learn best and anticipate what challenges
they may face in new ways of operation and look at making e-learning a
pathway to their desired future.

WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
As organizations consider moving more of their development efforts to
virtual platforms, there may be increased demands for equipment, connectivity and time for learning. This means providing necessary technology that
may include larger bandwidth and some additional equipment like laptops
or i-Pads for all employees. It also means rethinking and recommitting to
employee development and spending more time and energy moving into
this new arena of learning.
Just as important, to be prepared for the evolution of the organization
and industry, organizations will need to provide time for employees to
engage with a wide variety of learning experiences, including e-learning or
virtual training and development programs. It also means avoiding scatter
shot education that fails to address identified learning needs rather than
counting the number of courses offered as the measure of good training.
Each employee should have a learning and development plan that can
help focus on the most relevant learning opportunities. This is not new to
utility organizations, but we know from many conversations with employees and utility leaders that it is hard to ensure that these learning plans are
current, relevant and fulfilled.
We suspect cost-cutting pressures that most organizations (not just
utilities) will be facing as we begin digging out of the COVID-size economic
hole will lead to tight scrutiny of training budgets with an eye toward cuts
in spending. But the need for training and development isn't reduced even
if the budget is, and the importance of development just got bigger, not
smaller. We will need to re-think training and development as we move
from a brick-and-mortar context to a virtual equivalent. Virtual training,
26  ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020

SELECTING APPROPRIATE E-LEARNING EXPERIENCES
There are many options available for webinars and virtual training now
and more being added all the time. These programs are not all equivalent
in quality, and only a few will truly fit the needs of a given organization,
group or employee. We suggest that you look for programs (or design your
own programs) that:
■	 Have clear learning objectives that match the needs and interests of the
employee or group
■	 Have content that is well-defined and relevant from experts in the field
■	 Use a variety of methods that keep people engaged and address different
learning styles
■	 Use a variety of "hooks" to engagement and learning, including provocative questions, case studies (can be short), graphics and other curiosity
stimulants.
■	 Have a well-structured format for the e-learning experience
■	 Have opportunities for interaction throughout the learning experience,
including through breakout rooms, polling questions and chat and
response features
■	 Include pre-work or information as well as post-work or information to
support applicability of the learning to work and to the employee's needs
■	 Create opportunities for peer-to-peer discussion both in and following
the session
■	 Align with the vision and culture of your organization in both content
and method

WHY VIRTUAL LEARNING MATTERS FOR A
SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
To move into the future, utilities will be well served if they create a culture
of "organizational learning" that recognizes and supports the importance of
ongoing learning for each employee across the organization and engages
employees in creating ways for the organization to continue to adapt, demonstrate agility and evolve in response to the changes and challenges it faces.
Peter Senge made popular the phrase "learning organization" and wrote a
best-selling book3 that described the components of a learning organization.
Senge and others have developed very specific ways to create and enact a
learning culture, and those ideas are worth reviewing as we emerge from
the current coronavirus crisis. Cultures that create a work environment that
supports learning and collaboration actually solve problems and see overall
better results than those that are focused purely on control and performance.4
This, sadly, is unlikely to be our last crisis. The next one may be very different. We can predict with confidence that things will change, and if we have
an organization and work culture that support learning and development,
we can be optimistic that we will deal with the change-predicted or
not-in a way that contributes to employee well-being and the organization's sustainability. So as we move out of coronavirus-based isolation and
back into more normal operations, let's remember the lessons we have
learned, respond to expectations for engagement, caring and direction, and
look at the place e-learning can play in our organization's evolution. 

FOOTNOTES:
1.	COVID-19 Global Organisational Culture (Utilities) report from 2020 survey conducted in May of 2020.
2.	 New York Times. May 26, "Remember the MOOCs? After Near-Death, They're Booming" by Steve Lohr.
MOOCs stands for massive online, open courses which began as a movement about 10 years ago.
3.	 Peter Senge. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization; Doubleday' 1990, 2006.
4.	 Op cit, Barrett values study; Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams, A Edmondson-
Administrative science quarterly, 1999.



ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020

Letter from the Executive Director
RMEL Board of Directors
Effective Communication & Culture Strategies in Times of Uncertainty
Overcoming Cybersecurity Overload & Security Impacts During COVID-19
Staying Connected to Customer Needs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
Now What? A Move to Post-COVID Operation With the Help of e-Learning
2020 Fall Convention
The RMEL Foundation Auction is Going VIRTUAL!
2020 Calendar of Events
Member Listings
Foundation Board of Directors List
Advertisers’ Index
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Intro
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - bellyband1
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - bellyband2
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover1
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover2
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 3
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 4
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 5
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Letter from the Executive Director
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 7
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - RMEL Board of Directors
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 9
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Effective Communication & Culture Strategies in Times of Uncertainty
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 11
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 12
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 13
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Overcoming Cybersecurity Overload & Security Impacts During COVID-19
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 15
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 16
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 17
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Staying Connected to Customer Needs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 19
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 20
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 21
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Now What? A Move to Post-COVID Operation With the Help of e-Learning
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 23
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 24
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 25
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 26
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 27
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 2020 Fall Convention
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 29
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - The RMEL Foundation Auction is Going VIRTUAL!
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 2020 Calendar of Events
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Member Listings
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 33
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Advertisers’ Index
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover3
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover4
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert1
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert2
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert3
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert4
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