December 18, 2017
    Association learning: State of disruption but exciting time

    TRENDS Attends: DigitalNow 2017

    By Emily Howard | 05/11/2017

    Data, the Internet of Things and innovation continue to be of interest to association executives, but learning strategy became one of the top topics at this year’s DigitalNow Conference.

    Top association executives from across the country gathered this week in Orlando, Fla., for what is considered a “must attend” event in the association space. Attendees have come to expect executive-level discussions and presentations at DigitalNow, where intellect is stimulated by peers and executives from the for-profit world. Among those was Britt Andreatta, president of 7th Mind Inc., who returned this year as a keynoter.

    The former chief learning officer at, Andreatta discussed the evolution of adult education and the role that associations can play in the development of their members, and their own employees. TRENDS talked with Andreatta about evolution, revolution, technology and the future of education.

    You had a lot of interesting things in your session this morning about the difference between training and learning. What do association professionals need to understand about that when considering what their own learning programs?

    I started talking at the beginning of the presentation by placing people in time, in terms of the major evolutions and revolutions happening – the shift from training to learning. We’ve also shifted from employee to talent, and we’ve shifted from management to social science to neuroscience. So all of that happened kind of simultaneously and was pushed by technology. 

    Everything is in a big state of disruption, and it’s really an exciting time. It really means that learning is shifting in significant ways. We have entered a time where millennials are lifelong learners and they are seeking a place where they can grow and develop, so we know that people want more and want better. And bringing out the best peoples skills means giving it to them when they need it, not having them sign up for a class that is going to be four weeks from now and they need the information today.

    We also talked about the difference between learning and training. Training is really an event or an activity, and it is usually framed from the organization’s perspective and what they need learners to know. It came out of compliance training and risk mitigation. Training can often miss the mark. Many of us have sat through bad training and wondered why we were wasting time on this. 

    Where learning is really a holistic life long process. It’s really about helping people develop their potential and have a skill set where they can innovative and be creative on the spot solving a problem not just knowing a prescriptive way to do something. And learning is always designed from the learners’ perspective; so really thinking about what are their pain points. Where are they starting in their skill set? Where do they need to go? And really making sure that the experience shifts them both psychologically and behaviorally to that new place. It’s an exciting time to be looking at learning.

    You also talked about technology being the driver in this. Millennials and all of us have the world in the palm of our hands. Many of our readers are taking this into consideration, they’re also adopting learning management systems and creating more distance learning. What technologies are we maybe not aware of yet, and what is just out on the horizon?

    I did some show and tell from the stage today of a few of my favorites. Everything from looking at digital badging and it’s important because learners want to be able to track everything they are doing. A lot of learning comes from so many sources and not just the course catalog, whatever that is. People want that learning, that digital resume to be transportable to other experiences. We looked at LMSes and many of those are pretty static the way they currently are framed. One new product on the market that I like is Degreed. It’s an Experience Management System (XMS), so people can keep a living portfolio of all their learning experiences and enterprises…instead of trying to put everything in an LMS. The LMSes that will survive will be the ones that become more adaptable and able to house all kinds of learning from mini bite-sized to six-week intensive.

    Speaking of the mini and the intensives, what should we be considering when creating a learning strategy?

    What I like to try to help people understand is the three different components. Information: People need access to pieces of info and data, and once they have it, they can take action. Then there is instruction. This is where you need someone to teach you and show you how to do something. There you need an instructor and a learner. It can still be a one-to-one or a video. But someone with expertise will show you how to do something. This should include the learner trying it themselves, so they build that skill. Something else to consider here is how many repetitions it takes to make a habit. This ads some practice elements. 

    The third thing is inspiration. This taps into purpose and the why behind things so that people can get excited about why they are doing something. When people have that, and they find themselves in a situation where their skill or knowledge is not sufficient, they can innovate.

    Executives should also look at the difference between a beginner level versus master status, and that you provide the right learning path to get them to where they need to go. Sometimes that path is not clearly delineated, so someone could have a lot of content but have tons for the novice but they need more for the expert. It’s really important to have a clear strategy, multitiered approach built around growth mindset strategies.

    Contact Andreatta at Her books, Wired to Grow and Wired to Resist can be found at 

    Editor's note: TRENDS was a media sponsor for DigitalNow 2017.

    More from DigitalNow 2017 to come in future issues.

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