“LERN invented virtual work.” – Joseph M. Miera, M.P.A., CPP, Vice Provost, Division of Educational Outreach, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

LERN went virtual in 1998. So we have 25 years of experience working and learning online. This pioneering move gave us superior experience, expertise and leadership in working and learning virtually. We share with you and your organization the tips and strategies for success in the virtual workplace and online classroom.

The 3 Major Platforms We Created
The three major platforms that formed the foundation of LERN going virtual:
1.Staff Offices and Staff Reports
2.Online Classrooms
3.LERN Club

Staff in 6 States
Today we have full-time staff in around 6 states from coast to coast. All but one staff member works from home. We communicate both synchronously and asynchronously.

The Move to Virtual
For our first two decades, we had up to 30 people working at a physical LERN headquarters building in Manhattan, Kansas with over 10,000 square feet of office space. And then they invented the Internet and Intranet. We realized we could hire the best people no matter where they lived, wanted to live, or moved. So in 1998 over a weekend we boxed up everything and let staff move to wherever they wanted to live.

John Allen, Online Pioneer
John Allen took LERN virtual in 1998. He began working at LERN when he was 17, studying computer science at a university, and worked for us for 25 years.

He built the three major platforms that formed the foundation of LERN going virtual:
1.Staff Offices and Intranet
2.Online classrooms
3.LERN Club

He ran servers, fixed everyone’s computers, created software and programs. John did an early 2002 two way video conference with LERN presenting to students at Moscow State University in Russia before any of the popular platforms were created. He was a master with IT.

Later, the Counterintelligence and Security Agency in the U.S. Department of Defense asked us for a reference for John for a top security clearance.

John Allen, lower left, with fellow staff at LERN’s 2005 Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

Frontier of Cyberspace

John also was a ‘white hacker,’ or good guy and worked on the frontier edges of cyberspace.
*He hacked into a prison website, changed the temperature (slightly, just so prison officials would know it had been changed) for everyone in the prison, and then promptly let the warden know they should tighten up their cybersecurity.
*At an NBA game with a LERN colleague, his colleague’s choice of favorite song was losing badly in the crowd voting. John was silent for two minutes on his cell phone. And then all of a sudden the Jumbotron showed thousands of new votes for the LERN staff person’s favorite song, which won easily in the crowd voting.
*As a young person he gave the LERN President and Senior Vice President nicknames which were not well received by them. John immediately changed his form of address to “Your Majesty” and “Your Eminence,” which the two Boomers welcomed.
*He played numerous pranks on staff to boost morale. He pretended to be the FBI; he had the airport announce another staff member had a ‘lost’ item; and more fun pranks to lighten the staff mood and load.

For a quarter of a century John was a pioneer online. His work served thousands of people and organizations every year. For his work in taking LERN virtual and building from scratch the three software platforms that run LERN and enable us to serve you, we will always be grateful.

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