How Expedia Group Scales Train the Trainer for Engineers

with Rebecca Shepherd, MAEd

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Creating engaging learning experiences for employees is now crucial to any company wanting to stay ahead and realize their vision. 

Yet, understanding how to both design and scale these experiences can be challenging. 

Every month, PlusPlus gathers together leaders working at the intersection of technical training and learning and development for the TechKnowCon Roundtable to explore topics top of mind for the industry. 

Expedia Group, one of the world’s leading travel companies, was one of the three organizations to present their ideas at the June 2020 discussion. 

Here, Rebecca Shepherd, MAEd, and learning architect describes how her team developed an ‘Instructor Academy’ to help scale learning at Expedia Group.

The ‘Instructor Academy’ story

Rebecca started her career as a high school history teacher and competitive debate coach. After transitioning to more technical work, she has spent the last seven years in both technical and non-technical roles with Expedia Group. 

With over 6,000 software developers spread worldwide, the company has a significant need to understand ever-changing technologies, languages, and frameworks. 

In 2015, Rebecca realized an opportunity to help her colleagues develop their technical skills and started the Expedia Code Academy as a side project.

“We started the program with one class. It quickly exploded to nine countries with a ton of classes happening. This was just engineers teaching whatever they wanted to teach,” Rebecca says. 

“It became very apparent that they were struggling with putting together their course content.

“I was in a more technical role at the time, and I saw that they needed help. Eventually, I started work on an Expedia Instructor Workshop. It was a three-hour session, and lots of people joined in.”

“The workshops were so popular, they eventually expanded to the Expedia Instructor Academy, moving from three hours of instruction to twelve hours of instruction. And this has made a huge difference.”

The Danielson Framework

Rebecca explains that the first step in scaling learning at Expedia Group was to go back to her teaching roots.  

“I realized that there is a lot of information that I learned in teaching school that would probably be helpful,” Rebecca says. 

“I started to think about the skills that make for an effective teacher, and I went to the Danielson Framework.”

“What the framework gives is a set of dimensions or domains of competency for every educator. I took those concepts and modified them for adult learning and teaching.”

Rebecca shares an adapted version of the Danielson Framework rubric with instructors to explain how they can reach proficiency in teaching.

Project for certification 

The next step was to offer a project for certification to those instructors who wanted it. 

Rebecca and her team ask instructors to follow a series of steps to achieve certification: 

  • Read through the proficiency column on the rubric
  • Prepare the curriculum and content
  • Teach the class and record it
  • Gather any other evidence to prove proficiency
  • Send the evidence back to Rebecca’s team 

Afterwards, Rebecca reviews the evidence but does not score it. She then sets up a one to one meeting with the instructors to score their work together. 

“It’s amazing to see the difference in the quality of the content produced now,” she says. 

Helpful resources

Rebecca also suggests a list of books to help trainers better understand the learning process:

About TechKnowCon

TechKnowCon originated as an annual conference in 2018 to bring together peers from various companies to compare notes and share best practices about technical training, documentation, and learning in the workplace.

About TechKnowCon Roundtable

TechKnowCon Roundtable is a facilitated monthly gathering over Zoom where technical learning leaders at various companies can share best practices, ask questions, and discuss changes in the industry.

Want to be a speaker at a future TechKnowCon Roundtable? Let us know.

Click here to register for the next event.

Click here to join our Slack community of leaders at the intersection of technical training and learning & development.

Based on the TechKnowCon Roundtable hosted on June 24, 2020, moderated by Marko Gargenta, Founder of PlusPlus.

Written by Sophia Wichtowska. Sophia is an educator who specializes in thought leadership, opinion pieces, and content creation for learning publications. Her work focuses on the latest research in learning theory and practice. She regularly contributes articles on workplace learning and professional development. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.