With all that the web has enabled, there are now countless ways in which each of us is going about learning on a day-to-day basis. There is also increasing evidence that this is incredibly important and perhaps deserves the same type of recognition as some of the traditional markers in education, such as degrees.
Kelly Palmer is the recently appointed chief learning officer at Degreed, a company that is aiming to revolutionize how we find, track and measure lifelong learning. Their mission is to “jailbreak” the degree and create recognition for all of the ways that learners acquire knowledge and expertise.
In this episode of the Leading Learning Podcast, Jeff talks with Kelly about the current paradigm shift that exists related to how we recognize learning, her role as chief learning officer, and what she sees as emerging trends and potential roadblocks in the industry.
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Read the Show Notes
00:20 – A reminder to check out the Leading Learning Symposium, an event designed specifically for senior leaders at organizations in the business of lifelong learning, continuing education, and professional development. The symposium takes place this year on October 24-25 in Baltimore, Maryland.
01:09 – Thank you to Web Courseworks, makers of the CourseStage learning management system, for being a sponsor of this episode of the Leading Learning podcast.
01:23 – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Jeff interviews Kelly Palmer, chief learning officer of Degreed.com. Jeff notes that Degreed has been mentioned in previous Tagoras blog posts and Webinars. See, for example, Learning from Big Learning: 14 Lessons.
03:32 – Introduction to Kelly and some background information about who she is.
04:18 – Tell us about what Degreed is, why it exists, and what problem it’s trying to solve/capitalize on? Kelly explains that there is paradigm shift going on in the industry related to learning and that Degreed is providing something new and unique related to this shift. She says we live in a knowledge economy now and that we should be recognizing all the learning that is taking place (not only in the form of degrees, certificates, etc.) Degreed ties all of your learning together so you can get credit for all the learning that you do everyday.
06:10 – Jeff and Kelly talk about how Degreed provides a locker of sorts to keep all of the different types of learning activities that learners engage in. Kelly talks about Degreed’s learning profile that allows you to track of all your learning (both formal and informal). This enables you to see how you’re developing yourself and skills over time.
08:25 – A discussion about how the learning profile is helpful, not only for the individual lifelong learner, but for employers as well. It also gives learning leaders a much better sense of how people are actually learning everyday, something they typically aren’t able to see.
09:46 – You are very new to the company as its first chief learning officer. Why did Degreed decide it needed a chief learning officer, and why was now the right time for that? Kelly says most companies that care about learning have some sort of learning leader role. She explains that the role of the CLO is to drive the internal learning strategy and evangelize learning.
11:18 – Kelly shares the 3 major areas she focuses on as CLO at Degreed:
- Being an internal CLO to make sure employees are embracing their own lifelong learning, using their product, and ensuring there is an amazing learning culture overall.
- Helping to evangelize the future of learning and to get people to start thinking differently about how we as a function should be operating in the world. She says explains that if a learning organization can think of themselves as enabling/inspiring learning, and then involve everyone in the process, we will be incredibly more effective.
- Focusing on making sure employees are embracing their product as well as working with customers to support them and get feedback in order to improve the product.
15:08 – You are the ultimate testing environment for the platform to see what’s working or what may need to be considered for the future. Are you putting that kind of feedback into the design and development process for the platform? Kelly shares that the feedback loop is a big part of it. She discusses the importance of getting thought leaders and CLO’s in the industry to have a voice in what they’re doing which is why she’s created a CLO learning leader community.
16:49 –What do you see as some of the biggest roadblocks to success for the Degreed model? Kelly explains that in the past 20 years or so, people have relied on learning management systems to drive the learning in the organization. She thinks there is still a place for this but that we need to start thinking differently and that there’s a reluctance to change.
19:06 – What other models or emerging trends in learning have you excited right now in this changing learning landscape? Kelly shares that she is excited about all the amazing content out there (both a blessing and a curse) and that often people are overwhelmed by it. She explains how Degreed can help curate content.
22:26 – A discussion about how Google has become our default curator for content, which isn’t always good because it may not yield the best results for learning. Kelly explains that there is a difference between content aggregators and content curators and she shares an example of this.
23:48 – Learning was not always your focus as a professional. Was there a particular event or turning point that made you decide that learning needed to be your focus going forward? Kelly explains how her career path evolved and she talks about the importance of finding purpose and passion in your work and life. Once she discovered that learning was her passion, she continued to build her career from there.
27:10 – As a learning leader, are there any particular people/other sources that you have found inspiring? Kelly reveals that Karie Willyerd, CLO at Sun Microsystems, was a huge inspiration to her. She adds that talking to people in the learning community both inspires and teaches her a lot.
28:34 – What failures or major stumbling blocks have you hit that have, ultimately, helped set you up for success? Kelly talks about how she is a firm believer in learning from set backs and failures. A valuable lesson she has learned is that if you are too invested in the solution, you’re less apt to accept failure and move on. A common challenge/obstacle is often getting other stakeholders in the company to be more open to change.
31:04 – We usually ask all guests on Leading Learning what their own lifelong learning habits but I assume that Degreed is part of that habit. Can you tell us about some of the categories and content that are most important in your own Degreed profile right now? Kelly shares that many of the topics she is focused on are around culture and values of a company. She spends about an hour a day listening to podcasts, reading books/articles, researching, etc. and then tracks that on Degreed. She has also been learning about motivation and how you can help learning become a habit in your everyday life. Kelly emphasizes that it’s also important to learn in the context of your career development.
36:47 –How to connect with Kelly and Degreed:
37:58 – Wrap-Up
A reminder to check out the Leading Learning Symposium to be held October 24-25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Thanks again to Web Courseworks for sponsoring this podcast episode.
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39:36 – Sign off