What is a USDLA water cooler chat? It’s an informal conversation — NOT a presentation — among distance learning colleagues who are visiting with one another around a virtual water cooler.
Water Cooler Chat Session #1:
“In a learning organization, employees continually create, acquire, and transfer knowledge – helping their company adapt to the unpredictable faster than rivals can.” – -David Garvin, author of Learning in Action
“Becoming a learning organization will give your organization an advantage by making your employees better at everything they do.” – -Russell Sarder, author of Building an Innovative Learning Organization
When: Tuesday, March 27
Time: 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern
Blockbuster vs. Netflix; Circuit City vs. Best Buy; Microsoft vs. Netscape; Amazon and Google vs., well, just about everyone. When we think of the rise of some organizations and the fall of their competitors, what comes to mind? Senior managers clinging to old ways of doing business that no longer apply? That’s part of it. But there is another way of looking at it. In each case we see once-great companies simply stop learning. Before long, they get out-maneuvered and outwitted by companies that have learning and innovation firmly embedded in their culture.
Everyday we witness economic and workforce changes that favor learning organizations. We are also seeing changes in how learning is accomplished. It’s no longer just a question of training (short-term, practical, and focused on helping people do something, or do something better) vs. education (less focused on immediate needs, though more focused on providing a long-term knowledge base essential for developing new abilities). It is also the matter of rebalancing what is learned in the conventional classrooms vs. what is learned, well, everywhere else. But though there are more options than ever for learning new things, the task of actually getting people to learn doesn’t seem to be getting any easier.
Water Cooler Chat Session One:
Topic #1: Consider Figure 1 and Figure 2. Does your organization actively support both formal and informal learning? How?
Figure 1: Formal Learning
Figure 2: Informal Learning
Topic #2: Consider the areas of technology (below) as they relate to learning. How do they impact your organization? Alternatively, how will they affect your clients/customers/staff/students?
- Mobile Devices
- Social Media
- Internet of Things
- Big Data
- Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage
Topic #3: Consider the way in which learning activity is managed in your organization. How important are interorganizational partnerships? Are there new partnerships you should be developing?
Topic #4: What role does Competency-Based Training (CBT) play in your organization?
Developing the knowledge and skills of the workforce was one of the core themes of the 2018 USDLA Conference. Several presenters explored this theme through new training designs, business-college-government partnerships, and competency-based programs. Click here to see more information about the conference sessions and presenters that covered this topic.
Harnessing Learner Analytics
“Perhaps the most promising source of automatically gathered online learning data is the learning software itself, particularly the LMS.” – –Black, E. W., Dawson, K., & Priem, J. (2008). “Data for free: using LMS activity logs to measure community in online courses.” Internet and Higher Education, 11, 65-70.
“Providing the right learning at the right time for the right individuals to generate the desired results requires a close alignment with strategic business objectives.” – -Elkeles, Tamar and Phillips, Jack. (2007). The Chief Learning Officer – Driving Value within a Changing Organization Through Learning Development
When: Tuesday, April 10
Time: 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern
Have you ever had the feeling you’re being watched? Like it or not, it seems like all our actions are logged, tagged, cataloged, classified, grouped, clustered, and otherwise analyzed for the purposes of various marketing campaigns (or worse).
On the flip-side, have you ever wondered how you can demonstrate the effectiveness of the distance learning tools and initiatives to a senior management audience that has a severe preoccupation with ROI data?
There’s a general feeling by trainers and educators that students are getting less tolerant of filling out a seemingly endless parade of surveys. There are now fears that additional efforts to gather critical feedback for the evaluation and improvement of training & education programs is now yielding diminishing returns. In this age of big data, mining the usage logs of the LMS (and even newer tools such as simulations & augmented reality applications) offers a tempting and less invasive alternative. Mountains of usage data can help administrators figure out how their systems are being used and where additional system training might help. But that still leaves two seemingly opposing challenges:
1. How do we show that the new tools and techniques do in fact support learning?
2. How do we make our students feel like we’re watching out for them, not just watching them?
Water Cooler Chat Session Two:
Topic #1: Are you using system logs to help evaluate the effectiveness of your learning infrastructure?
Topic #2: Do you have a sense for how your students are adapting to your learning infrastructure?
Topic #3: How do you know that your learning infrastructure is aligned with your organization’s strategic goals and objectives?
Managing and evaluating learning technologies was one of the core themes of the 2018 USDLA Conference. Several presenters shared case studies about the implementation of new learning systems. Other case studies focused on the use of various metrics (including system metrics) to help learning leaders determine if their infrastructure is meeting organizational needs. Click here to see more information about the conference sessions and presenters that covered this topic.
After the Conference: Putting Knowledge to Work
“All this talk about the importance of knowledge does little to help us understand how knowledge gets created. Despite all the attention of leading observers, none of them has really examined the mechanisms and processes by which knowledge is created.” – Nonaka, Ikujiro and Takeuchi, Hirotaka. (1995). “The Knowledge Creating Company”
When: Tuesday, May 22
Time: 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern
For the majority of people, the most important aspect of attending the USDLA Annual Conference is the prospect of gathering enough information to help meet challenging distance learning goals. In order to help conference attendees squeeze the maximum value from their experience, we held a special one hour post-conference chat. This free session, featuring conference speakers and organizers, included reviews of the major topics and discussions stemming from this year’s event.
Water Cooler Chat Session Three:
Topic #1: What were your biggest takeaways from this year’s USDLA conference?
Topic #2: What distance learning topics do we as a community need to pay close attention to in the upcoming year?