“We’re entering a really exciting, and yet challenging, time in learning and training.” I had just arrived at the first 30 Under 30 session at The Masie Learning Consortium’s Learning 2016 Conference, and our first guest speaker, Bob Mosher, former Chief Learning Evangelist at Microsoft, kicked off the conference with this prediction of the learning industry. From this first session, I knew that the next four days of Learning 2016 would be an eye-opening experience and help shape a new generation of learning leaders.

The Learning 2016 Conference


Aya with Special Guest George Takei and Host Elliott Masie

From October 23-26, I had the opportunity to participate as a 30 Under 30 Learning Leader at Elliott Masie’s Learning 2016 conference in Orlando, Florida. The award, sponsored by the The Masie Learning Consortium, is given to learning leaders who are under the age of 30 and will be the next generation of leaders in the learning and development field. I was excited about interacting with other learning leaders from diverse organizations who are doing creative and innovative things, though I knew I couldn’t attend all 190 sessions that were offered by the conference.

My 5 Takeaways About the Future of Learning and Development

While I had many learning moments during Learning 2016–by the end of the conference I completely filled a notebook–here are my top takeaways from the conference that will guide me as I continue my journey in the learning world:

  • We are living in a learning Panorama. The theme of this year’s conference was the ‘Panorama’. What does a learning panorama look like? How is learning happening now, and what will happen in the future, based on what happened in the past? These are questions that Elliott Masie posed to us to think about as we create new learning landscapes that integrate old technologies and ideas with the new.
  • Recommendations will become play a larger role in guiding learning. With the proliferation of search engines and DIY content on video hosting sites, finding new content is easier today than ever. We learned from learning leaders of American Express and PriceWaterhouse Coopers that with the emergence of content, including those created by the learners themselves, learners need guidance over content they can trust and gain value from.  For them, they have started to notice trainers begin to take a “curator” rather than “creator” role.
  • A design thinking approach is the best way to truly meet learner needs. With new learning content that is now available online and through shared resources,  we now have the opportunity to personalize content for learners in a meaningful way. For David Clark, former CLO at American Express, he transformed his learning organization by doing a design exercise. He did this by bringing together the learning leaders of his company and understand the learning paths the learners needed to take to impact the entire enterprise. At NovoEd, we similarly take a design thinking approach and start with the learner’s needs to design our platform.
  • Learning can (and should) happen everywhere. We learned from keynote speakers, including Anderson Cooper and Astronaut Scott Kelly, that their success can be attributed to the fact that they never stop learning. For Anderson Cooper, a major news network anchor, he continues to learn with every interview and assignment. For Scott, some of his biggest learning experiences didn’t happen in a classroom – instead, it happened while in orbit around Earth.
  • We should start small to go big. Changing something as core as how organizations learn doesn’t come easily with embedded history, norms, and numerous stakeholders. Yet, change is necessary for innovation. At Learning 2016, I learned from Richard Culatta, Chief Innovation Officer at the State of Rhode Island, that he was able to innovate at the U.S. Department of Education (2011-2015) and CIA University (2004-2006) by starting with a proof of concept and then increasing the scope of the project through an agile approach by making incremental adjustments.

What a Time for Change

As I reflected on this conference, besides being starstruck by the luminaries speaking and attending, my inner instructional designer and edtech enthusiast was incredibly thrilled. I’m sure that many before have thought and felt that it is a era in learning, but with all of the converging trends in society and technology, I do believe that now the time is ripe to make incredible progress. There is so much potential to increase collaboration and knowledge within and across organizations. The conference inspired me to strive to create the next generation of learning experiences, and to be a voice of the next generation of learning leaders. 30-under-30

Learn more about the Future of Learning and Development and Masies Learning 2018 in our other posts.