Best HR Ideas for 2012: UnUniversity (Peer-to-Peer Learning Program)

This idea by AOL in Dulles, Va., is one of the Best HR Ideas for 2012. See the rest of them here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012
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Had AOL's UnUniversity been just another internal knowledge-sharing/training initiative, we wouldn't be here telling you why it won a spot on this year's list. Though they're valuable, the many work-related educational programs that turn senior leaders and seasoned managers into teachers and trainers have been around for a while, as have vendor-led and online training solutions. What the people-development team at AOL did -- in response to low engagement scores, slashed budgets, requests for development and growth, time constraints and declining interest in the traditional learning solutions -- was think way outside the box.

Led by Melissa Frescholtz, senior program designer for people development, UnUniversity lets anyone teach and anyone take a class. All topics are welcome -- those feeding the AOL knowledge bank and those simply enhancing students' interests and talents.

"If an employee -- at any level -- has knowledge to share," says Frescholtz, "we offer the platform in which to teach it."

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The program is broken into four topic areas: UnUTech, for everything and anything tech; UnUBusiness, for the inside scoop on AOL's business and skills for success; UnULeadership, where leaders teach leaders and lessons for all; and UnUTalents, where AOLers share interests and talents -- work-related or not. The school helps instructors with everything from establishing topics, curricula and class logistics to handling marketing and LMS administration.

Not only are students enriched, but teachers can share personal interests and passions while honing their presentation and communication skills. Since its launch, there's been a 116-percent increase in learning participation.

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