starting a GUERRILLA LEARNING campaign

Before running a Guerrilla Learning campaign, it is important to understand a little bit of learning theory - as that insight drives its success and makes it more effective. We all suffer from a confirmational bias when it comes to learning: we have all been to school and college, so we assume that we know how to learn and what works best - based purely our own experiences. However, your experience and model of learning might not be the most effective and efficient method of learning and even if it worked for you, it might not work so well for others.

Unfortunately, there is no unified theory of learning and it is all too easy to apply individual learning theories inappropraitely by not understanding their context and constraints. The learning industry (which is predicted to be worth about $370 billion by 2026) adds to the confusion by promoting an information-transfer, consumption-based model and supporting platforms like Learning Management Systems. The performance metrics of L&D teams are based on 'attendance' or access to 'learning opportunities' rather than actual learning and increased performance - so there is no incentive to change and create more effective and efficient content (even if they knew how). The Senior Leadership suffer from the same confirmational bias towards learning, so do not intervene - the system is broken.

Luckily, a Guerrilla Learning campaign is not part of the system or establishment by its very nature. It uses low-cost unconventional techniques to achieve incredible results, dramatically out-performing standard formal approaches to workplace learning and performance support. To achieve those goals however, you do need an idea of how to learn efficiently and effectively:

How we learn

A 12 point primer on learning theory, this should be incorproated into any Guerrilla campaign to make it efficient and effective.

User Centered Design


Learning resources and delivery must be learner-centered with human-focused-design. This means everything must be as easy to access and use as possible. Push resources out to where the users are, don't expect them to visit a LMS.

Dual Coding System


The brain can absorb information both visually and audibly. Never put exactly the same information through both channels at the same time. Don't read out the text on a slide, don't use audio narration for text within eLearning packages.

4 thing thinking


The brain can only concentrate on about 4 things at any time. Those items also include stress and worry. New concepts can overload the buffer through trying to relate to them to existing experiences - control this by bringing existing knowledge and experience in to keep within the buffer. Don't overload the buffer!

90 second focus


The working memory can only hold items for about 90seconds. Within that time there should be some action to encode the information into the long term memory - relate it to existing experiences or engage an emotional connection. Don't overload the buffer!

Forgetting is normal


The brain is designed to forget things so it doesn't get information overload and it does so very quickly. 60% will be forgotten within an hour, 80% within a week. Don't think course review sheets or any immediate ratings measure learning.

Engage neurons


Long term memory is created by connecting neurons in the brain and then using those connections and linkages to strengthen them. The more they are used, the stronger they are. Use it or lose it!

Emotional


Strong emotions such as fear, hate and love quickly strengthen neural connections, creating long term memories. Simulated environments (like VR) can do this, but so can storytelling.

Effortful recall


Forcing the brain to recall information over time strengthens neural connections, creating long term memories. Recall needs to be effortful, not passive re-reading or re-teaching the material.

Learning is social


The context, language and culture is a vital part of any content, because absorbing that is how we fit into a team and our skills and knowledge are accepted by others.

Invites to share


Content should be designed to encourage people to share their knowledge and experience to build an open and trusting culture. There is a bigger picture than immediate learning objectives.

Motivation can be fostered


We should not expect learners to be always willing and motivated to learn. Through good design, motivation can be fostered and created. When designing think how will I create: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction, Volition and Performance.

Be consistent to be credible


Learning resources should be consistent with the message being taught to be credible. If you are introducing something new, it has to be introduced in a new way. If you do everything the same, the subliminal message is that it's not any different.

Contact us if you would like us to eloborate or explain any of these to you or your team.

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A Guerrilla Learning Campaign consists of 3 elements: the Channels, the Connectors and the Content



Channels

Identify where your audience is and go there: the channels

Think like a media company: need to think about both channels and content. Think: Quality, Ratings, Engagement, Varied Content, Audience Insight, Buzz & Ease as deal-breakers. Do not bore your audience, get them involved as they build your brand, they are part of your team. Treat them with respect as they can go elsewhere, people channel hop for content …and learning and knowledge.

It's quite arrogant to think that people will want to make an effort and find your content on an LMS or LXP, especialy when they are busy. So it is better to bring the content to them.

Find out how your intended audience works and what tools, communications and messaging platforms they use as a team. Do they use email, instant messaging or a shared drive? and plan to utilise that channel.
You want to fit in with how your audience works and enhance that community - so your 'learning resources' can be integrated seamlessly into their worklife and workstyle. You really want to avoid people making an effort: so generally you do not host want to host your community on a LMS or separate platform because they need special visits which you can not guarantee will happen. It is essential to have your channels to distribute your swarm content and increase its lifespan. The brain is designed to forget things that it percieves as unimportant, so you need the channel to promote the importance of your content and keep it in the discussion. The channels should be two-way, so you need to part of the channel's community, not just to distribute content, but to feed in updates and answer any questions straight after launch.

The channel should be used for effortful recall activities. Ideally, you need a content-related activity to strengthen the neural connections to promote long term recall after 2days, 2 weeks and 2 months. The focus of this activity should change at each time after 2 days focus on factual based recall of the content. After 2 weeks ask an opinion based question to encourage context processing. Lastly, after 2 months ask for descriptions of an experience-related events.

Support the community by making it more inclusive Communities need to be welcoming and not run by the exclusive out-of-touch elite
Your community needs to be fun, so create small motivators to encourage people to attend, join in, feel included and a sense of belonging with mini in-jokes Rotate the weekly editorship Have jokey badges for important work rather than the turgid rigid ones: work is fun, right? Any community admin can create and award sharepoint badges, see below. Individuals can chose and select whether to display them or not.
Teach & encourage people to vote, like & rate as that is your insight into what works and what to repeat.

  • Editor Badge: For being the weekly editor/producer
  • Roving Reporter: For best report on a customer visit
  • Fact-checker General: For keeping posts accurate
  • James Bond Badge: For competitor, customer information & insight
  • Video King: For best short video
  • Picasso badge: For best infographic, visual representation
  • Shakespere Badge: For best short description, quotable line

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Connectors

Build the fabric to enable a collective intelligence: the connectors

Make your content searchable and conversable Your presentation should not be the communication but the start of a conversation
We need to think like a media company and involve the audience. Hashtags connect your content to a conversation or community for follow-up questions, support, discussion or ideas. It shows that the message is important enough for many people to be involved in, not just a single powerpoint slidedeck BUT a supported slidedeck.
Relevance and Context is so important to the acceptance of a message - this is hard to achieve with generic learning content or accessing learning content libraries. That's the reason most compliance training fails - it treats everything as black and white, when the reality is shades of grey... and if you don't accept there are shades of grey, the audience think it's impractical and unworkable - they might go through the training and jump through the hoops to keep their job, but they will never apply it.
Tagging the content allows you to bring in context, community acceptance, peer pressure and discussion around the issues - so you can understand them better and address them.

Support the community making it a vital information source Create and share simplified Personal Learning Network Maps based around topic

Most workplace learning occurs outside formal channels. To move from 'information transfer' to 'understanding' of content involves appreciation of the language, context and nuance of the subject. Without that, which is hard to teach, you won't be accepted by the community and grow and develop in the area. This should not be left to chance. These serendipitous meetings and connections can be engineered and designed to occur to speed up the process. The Personal Learning Map exercise is one method for achieving this by structuring, recording and analysing your informal knowledge sources. It allows you to fill in any weaknesses and as a team activity, builds a communal intelligence. It gives opportunities for everyone to find unique information and share it, reinvigorating and bringing life and vibrancy back into community groups and forums. Communities die without fresh, relevant and useful information being shared. People will not visit unless it is useful to them, so you need to make it useful and useful everyday. You can not do this alone, so teach people how to do it and trust them Creating a Personal Learning Network Map brings outside information in on competitors, customers, it keeps track of key people and developments in the wider industry. As an exercise, it changes behaviours as it is getting you to set and automate information collection which you would not have done otherwise. The quality and foucus of the information gathered outclasses that which any consultancy or agency can offer (and which they offer to your competitors as well). Different people will find different contacts, so there is a vibrant source of outside information that people curate and decide whether to share in community. This all keeps community alive and fresh & worth visiting. Many companies suffer from a bit of arrogance that they know best or that they have all the answers inhouse, but that is being naive. The connections and assocaitions increase innovation.

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Content

Multiple micro learning 'swarm' resources: the content
Robin Hood's theory of Outlaws applies here: the more the merrier

Create lots of small, quick, easily digestible content to feed into the channels. All the content and resources should be tagged, so they can mutually support each other and connect and bring people into the conversation. Having lots of small focussed content makes it faster to create, easy to share and keeps your message in focus for longer: with changing content, you look active and there's always something new, so it creates an impression of being important and invested in that a single presentation doesn't. It's a low cost, low-risk strategy compared to the high-risk, one-hit wonder strategy of creating a single slidedeck. The small imaginitive content increases workplace creativity and innovation through leading by example
The content should not look too professional or uninviting, as you want others to think that they could create similar material and share it too. Below are some ideas for swarm content

Quick Quiz ...... Mind Maps ...... Cartoon Sketches ...... Buzz Moments ...... Cheat Sheets ...... Pick Up lines ...... Iconography, Imagery and Infographics

Infomercials and short video ...... Storytelling ...... Mnemonics & Memory Aids ...... Desk Presence ...... Key Performance Indicators

Quick Quiz

List the three main points you want to get across.

  • Can you write three headlines to capture the main points
  • Are there any facts or figures that would be useful to know?
  • What is new and different about what you are talking about?
  • What should people do to apply it it their daily lives?
  • What should people do differently now they know about what you're talking about
  • What questions would you ask to see if they have really understood what you are talking about

Using these points make a low level, low stress quiz to check the audience's understanding and to use for effortful recall activities to create long-term memories. In addition, for a successful effortful recall programme that will encode long term memories, you need to ask opinion and experience related questions too, not just factual recall of information. The magic question deployemnts are: after 2 days focus on factual based recall of the content. After 2 weeks ask an opinion based question to encourage context processing. Lastly, after 2 months ask for descriptions of an experience-related events.

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Mindmaps

Learning is all about understanding where the new information fits against the current mental model and understanding of how things work. The existing mental model might need to be updated (or unlearnt) or expanded, but without this frame of reference. You will struggle to get your message across.
Mind-Maps are great way of doing this as they create links between the content and what they already know and their existing experiences.
When you have this grounding, it is easier to learn new material and understand why you need to learn it. You also create a sense of safety and familiar ground with the content, so the audience is comfortable enough to share on the topic. If they are not comfortable with the content, they will not share your material or their experiences (incase they get a question that they can not answer and fear feeling stupid about it.) If the audience shares your guerrilla learning content, it will have more impact as it is coming from a 'trusted' source. So get people to create their own mind-maps and share them. To do this it is a good idea to create some examples, send them out, sow the seeds and set the ball rolling.

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Cartoon sketches

Your content should be an invitation to share, if your content is too professional or perfect - then you are distancing your audience from it. It appears aloof or out of touch.
Handwritten work shows an investment of time that creates a subliminal message that it is worth reading - if someone spent time writing this, then I should spend time reading it. You do not get the same human effect from typed, computer generated work or clipart. Draw a mind-map, or a flowchart or process chart as a cartoon or sketch: it acts as an invitation allowing others to create their own content and share that too. It shows that you want people to work with your content, that it is not a closed book but alive. You do not need to have great skill as an artist, it is deliberately not supposed to look professional - or it will lose the effect. You do not need to use a iPad and Apple pencil - just a sketch on a sheet of paper, take a photo of it and email it to yourself. Personal touches, like a hand-drawn cartoon, show that you have invested time into your message so it is worth them investing their time into your message too.

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Wow moments and buzz effect

Your content should be consistent with your message for credibility. If you have something new and revolutionary that will change the world, then your delivery must be new and revolutionary to get the impact and highlight the difference. If your have a new technology, then show some new technology in your explanation and delivery. It gives a frame of reference for the audience that you are credible. We live in an era of over-inflated claims and hype and exageration. How do you appear credible compared to everyone else who is shouting and claiming that they are the best: you don't shout, you show - so you must be consistent with your message for credibility Guerrilla Learning gives you a head start as it gives you the novelty factor and is a new approach. Try to bring your existing and familiar materials to life and create a wow moment and buzz around it. Be consistent with message of creative and innovative solutions. Showcase some of the underlying technologies which audience might not have seen before like AR (Augmented Reality) Get them excited and they will be your best advocates. Do stuff they have never seen before and they will come back for more and want to work with you or for you. There is freeware available for bringing posters to life with AR - you upload a trigger image from the poster, and when the app detects the trigger image it plays a short video or sound clip.
In the example on the left, I animated the two emergency service characters from a standard poster stating why the wearable technology made a difference to them - it brought the poster to life and created soundbites that were easy to recall

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Checklists, Cheatsheets and Job Aids

Ensure your content can be used quickly and at the time of need Think about how the audience will use what you are trying to teach them. Will they learn and memorise it so they can recall it at a later time? Ideally, but in reality, they will be in a hurry and need quick, concise answers instantly. People have a Google mindset. So format your message to account for end usecases: Summary sheets, Job Aids, Cheat sheets can be printed out, emailed, Instant Messaged or texted to someone (and over low bandwidth networks for field operatives). Your job in workplace learning is to improve performance, so creating usable performance support material that helps people do the job they need to do is much more important than talking around the subject and creating an eLearning package that will be quickly forgotten.

Remember these concise summary cheat sheets and checklists are what will be needed for AR/VR/MR environments and training chatbots and digital assistants not 20 slides, or 20 minutes of video or an eLearning package. so start getting that mindset and familiarity within your team now. Cut out the rubbish and identify what is actually needed to increase performance. It win-win: it improves team performance in the short term and gives a strategic advantage to leverage AI to augment your workforce in the future. It's metaverse ready. The best job aids and performance support material is created by those doing the actual job, so you need to seed ideas and examples for them to build upon and improve so that they will use them

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Elevator Speeches

Elevator Speeches are a great tool for you to focus your content and message and cut out the waffle - what is it exactly that you want to get across... but I am not a fan of Elevator Speeches. I think they’re a cliche from 1980s MBA Business Schools for a situation that is so unlikely to occur, and if it does, then you are so stilted and rehearsed that you will not achieve the objective of the elevator pitch.
It's much better to understand the philosophy behind the quick pitch and the ideal structure, then crowd source the lines to build a flexible and workable pitch. It is worth collecting these lines not just for this exercise BUT mainly because they’re your headlines for news articles, your Social Media & Twitter posts and also the lines you need to train up Machine Learning AI agents, chatbots and Digital Assistants (the next generation of User Interface.) So be strategic and think about how information will be used in future and build that skillset and mindset now.

The structure is an attention grabbing headline, then three sentences (or so) to back up the claim and show you are more than a headline, so worth knowing and then a follow up call to action of what you want them to do.

Create a few examples sentences for each of these three areas - then use different combinations to create flexible elevator speeches. Post these and ask for others to add their own sentences to build up a database. By involving your audience in creating the content, they need to think about it, so they learn it, they will be more able to remember it and more likely to apply it.

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Iconography, Imagery & Infographics

You need to think like a media company: you need to think about both channels and content. Think: Quality, Ratings, Engagement, Varied Content, Audience Insight, Buzz & Ease as deal-breakers. Do not bore your audience, get them involved. They build your brand, they are part of your team. Treat them with respect as they can go elsewhere. People channel hop for content and learning and knowledge.
Is Google better than you? Can you Google the answer faster? So what value do you bring?

Reduce the number of words in your message as much as possible

There is some evidence that attention spans are decreasing. Start thinking strategically about how information will be shared in the future: maybe in VR, AR or Mixed Reality Environments. It is not going to be in a 20 page slideshow or one hour online meeting. It is going to be a quick picture or simple diagram. You need to start introducing this style of information now, so it becomes familiar, gets people thinking about it and working out how to produce it themselves. Otherwise, in a year or two, you will be playing catch up and have a skills shortage setting you and your project back (or you run the risk of being misled and overcharged by agencies. You need some skill inhouse.)
Invest now with a minimal mindset change, it will be worth it in 2 years time.
Can also turn these into Animated gifs

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Microvideo & Infomercials

Video is not all its cracked up to be. The longer your video, the more people will not watch it.
Most videos created are vanity projects that will not be watched through.
You need to grab the audience attention within 5 seconds, establish credibility and generally finish within 2 minutes to stand any chance of delivering your message. We have to apply the lessons from the TV advertising business and read and apply all their research into this.

Most Advertising Agencies use Monroe's Motivated Sequence as a structure for their short videos and infomercials, there are 5 sections:

  • Attention - use a short story, quote, a fact/headline figure or statistic or ask a rhetorical question
  • Need - explain or visualise the problemand why it is a problem
  • Satisfaction - show the solution to the problem and how it works
  • Visualisation - highlight how good life is aftyer the problem has been solved
  • Call to action - stress that the problem needs fixing now and you can go and do it now easily, so go on, fix it now...

A two minute video would roughly contain about 10 short sentences. Try writing a script with Attention (1 sentence), Need (2 sentences), Satisfaction (3 sentences), Visualisation (2 sentences) and Call to Action (1 sentence) as a starting point.
Read the section on storytelling (below) to help create the storyline for the video
Again, start thinking strategically about how information will be shared in the future: maybe in VR, AR or Mixed Reality Environments. It is not going to be in a 20 page slideshow or one hour webex. It is going to be a quick picture or simple diagram or micro video. You need to start introducing this style of information now, so it becomes familiar, gets people thinking about it and working out how to produce it for themselves. Otherwise, in a year or two, you will be playing catch up and have a skills shortage, setting you and all your projects back.

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Storytelling

For centuries most knowledge has been passed on by storytelling and we have kind of lost the art. If you were to video interview someone about their experiences they would freeze and clam up or tell boring facts and it is so boring to listen to. The same people probably are great storytellers in the right environment or when they talk to their family or friends.
Unfortunately, most people want to appear good at their jobs, so when you ask them about their jobs and experiences they will repeat facts and figures and procedures and not try to rock the boat and it is boring. You need to break them out of this mindset and get them to communicate. They still will look good at their jobs, infact they will look even better at their jobs as appear that they love their jobs as they talk about it with so much passion and enthusiasm. People will want to work with them and have them as part of their team.

How do you do it?
Relax them and tell them that you do not want them to recount the event or annecdote as if they were telling their friends in a pub or bar room. The best stories are told in pubs and bar rooms to friends and that is how you need to frame your experience interviews. In a pub story you can not be boring or use complicated language or your friends mock you or change the subject. When you are telling a story in a pub, you are immediately relaxed, you are naturally animated and smile and bring in humour and imagery and comparisons and you are focussed and to the point and there is a reason for the story so there is a punchline. It is the perfect video interview format.
Always tell stories as if you were at a bar or pub.
Bring your content alive, make it exciting, relatable and worth retelling. Facts, figures and numbers pass most people by. You need to make them relatable to the audience so you need to use imagery, humour and comparisons.

Create a frame work that your story sits in and work out the limits. What was the sitaution at the start, what was it like at the end. What would happen if you did not do anything. What would you do if you had no consequences (unlimited money and you would not get fired) And your story should sit in the middle of those four walls.
Whenever a number or figure is mentioned, look that number up to get a comparison or visualisation of that number. If you are talking visitors, then look up populations of cities so the audience can visualise the number in their head (that is an easy win to make a story memorable and foster motivation.) We should not expect listeners to be always willing and motivated to listen, it is our job as a storyteller to keep their interest. When thinking of a script, bear in mind how will you grab their Attention, keep it Relevant, inspire Confidence & Satisfaction that they could do something similar.

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Mnemonics and Memory aids

Mnemonics are a tool to aid memory retention. They can be a rhyme, acornym, image, phrase or sentence to assist with remembering key information. You might be familiar with the phrase,'Never Eat Shredded Wheat' to learn the sequence of the points of the compass (North, East, South, West) or songs to spell 'mississippi' - they're all examples of mnemonics. Learning is about moving information from the short-term working memory into the long term memory, where it can be called upon and used when it is needed. This process of encoding involves effortful recall of that information to strengthen the neural connections, these connections can also be strengthened through an emotional reaction to the material. Both are mechanisms used in mnemonics and memory aids to help remember information. Mnemonics can be a personal choice, but they are fun and easy to create, which focusses you on the material - and they are very easy to share, which encourages others and brings the material back to people's attention and brings life and fun to an online community. So creating them is a good community activity and really helps learning.
If your content makes you smile, it is more likely to be shared and go viral. Hold a competition inside the community for the best Limerick Limericks are short funny rhyming poems with an AA-BB-A format This has a few benefits: The audience study the material to find out what keypoints they can turn into a rhyming couplet. Any good limericks will be shared around, so your message keeps alive and current. The crowd does your marketing and distribution for you. People will visit your community/site whilst they are bored or passing time at work, because it is fun. This short content is the perfect format for an Instant Message or Social Media post

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Capturing Desk presence

You can not beat getting your message physically into the hands of your audience or left on their desk where others are likely to ask them about it. Which causes them to recall and then explain it in their own words, which helps with understanding the material and uncovering areas they do not know so much about, which should trigger them to find out more to fill in the gaps.

Desk presence has to be fun and eyecatching - the cartoons work, but there are paper-based origami ideas too. As children, you probably made flippers asking about your favourite colour that reveals some secret. That's a good format to use as a summary of your material - and likely to be picked up by others walking past as they remember them from their childhood. A 'tetra flexagon'/mobius strip flipper is an alternative format, that twists to change the displayed content but in an fascinating and intriguing way.
Another idea for capturing desk presence is origami...
Can you connect your message to an animal (or even a paper plane), and then print the key messsages on the sides of an origami version that can be sent out an folded by others?

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Measuring Results and KPIs

Most learning departments judge the success of their interventions by recoding a class attendance, because it is easiest. However, this falsely assumes that the information transfer in the session was 100% efficient and that just can't occur. It also measures memory of the event at the highest point and before any natural forgetting has occurred. So it's a useless metric and Senior Leadership inside organisations should really not let Learning and Development teams get away with using it. Unfortunately, you can't assume that training alone was responsible for an increase in a team's performance - as alongside the training event, there are other activities and promotions that play a significant role as well - so that can't be used as a reliable indicator of how effective the learning intervention was.

Guerrilla Learning allows randomised control trials - the gold standard of research - to be undertaken to prove its effectiveness aginst traditional workplace learning approaches. Identify the audience you want to target, number them, and then use a random number generator to assign them into two groups. In the first group run the standard training approach. Deploy the guerrilla learning campaign with the second group. After 3 weeks after you started the intervention, ask them the same questions to see which was more effective.
You can use this metric to build support for running further Guerrilla Learning campaigns.

Before launching a Guerrilla Learning campaign, you should identify the keywords and hashtags associated with the content. When you have identified the channel or forum to use to launch the material, record the activity (number of posts, questions, answers, viewings, likes etc) in that community for a week beforehand. Monitor the same keywords, hashtags and activity inside the forum during and in the weeks after the campaign to show the increase in engagement.

Before launching a Guerrilla Learning campaign, you should identify the innovation forum inside the company and record the number of ideas posted around the subject. Monitor this after Guerrilla Campaign for improvement.

If you are following the effortful recall programme, then you should be asking for opinion and experience-based questions. All three will be useful in describing the effectiveness of your guerrilla learning campaign.
This quantative data on the engagement with the material as well as the subjective data taken from user comments inside forums should be a wealth of data to present the success of the Guerrilla Learning campaign.
Keep a track of how long it took you to create the seed materials and use this in the ROI/Retun on Investment calculations.

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Guerrilla Learning Services

We can do all, or parts, of this for you - or work alongside you, guiding you through the proces.

Get in touch if you would like us to eloborate or explain any of these ideas, or need our help to run a campaign.

Contact us now

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