Learning

3 New Ways to Think About Learning

At the digitalNow conference, the focus was on how digital technology is changing everything associations do — especially how they approach delivering education.

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Online education expert Britt Andreatta’s slide at digitalNOW on the difference between training and learning.

The self-stated mission of the digitalNow conference is to address “the critical issues facing association leaders in the digital age.” Oftentimes that means responding to the challenges brought on by disruptive technology — but here at digitalNow 2017, being held at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, speakers have highlighted the opportunities that are open to associations when it comes to delivering education:

1. Extending learning  In his opening keynote presentation, Tim Chou, Ph.D. — former president of Oracle On Demand, lecturer in cloud computing at Stanford University, and author of Precision: Principles, Practices, and Solutions for the Internet of Things — noted that the rate of disruption brought on by the Internet of Things is only going to increase, across industries, sectors, organizations, and jobs. That will change how people learn, in the process creating ongoing opportunities for organizations to teach them. Rather than getting their education once, at the beginning of their career, people will participate in 10-year learning cycles — “two years to learn, eight years to execute, and then it starts all over again,” Chou said. “… And if you’re not on this cycle, it’s not going to be easy.”

2. Safeguarding the truth  During a plenary session on “New Patterns of Power: Information and the Digital Transformation of Everything,” panelist Eric Clemons, Ph.D., a professor of operations information and decisions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, was somewhat bleak in his assessment of how digital technology is eroding his students’ attention spans and warping how people consume news. But he offered hope to associations in the role they can play battling fake news and alternative facts. “We’ve never needed informed advocacy more than we need it today,” Clemons said. “So we move from the disseminator of information to the protector of, in many cases, the truth.”

3. Moving beyond training  What’s most crucial, according to keynoter Britt Andreatta, Ph.D., former chief learning officer for Lynda.com and author of books such as Wired to Grow: Harness the Power of Brain Science to Master Any Skill, is to understand that the delivery of education has evolved — from simple, rote training to more complex, longer-term learning. (See the photo above for Andreatta’s slide detailing what that means.) Not that it’s easy to switch up your organization’s, your attendees’, or your own mindset. “We are biologically hardwired to resist change,” Andreatta said. “What you don’t want to do is have resistance to change hobble the ability of your organization to meet your members’ needs.”

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.