Almost exactly three years from its creation, this officially marks our 150th episode of the Leading Learning podcast. It also happens to be the ten-year anniversary of Tagoras! In reaching these notable milestones, we thought it the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on our experience.
In this episode, we give a behind-the-scenes look of what it is we set out to achieve – and have achieved – with the Leading Learning podcast. We talk about its evolution, our framework for choosing content, and goals for the future.
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[01:23] – Celisa and Jeff begin by saying what a milestone it is to have reached 150 episodes and that they felt this was a good time to stop and reflect on the podcast. Listeners get access to the finished episodes – including interviews and their conversations -but what may not be apparent is the overarching mindset/framework in which they approach the Leading Learning podcast. They will also talk about the bigger picture of their work and the field the podcast is intended to serve since it may not always be explicit. Also, they have been engaged in their work at Tagoras for roughly 10 years at this point – so they will blend that perspective into talking about what they set out to achieve with the podcast.
[05:02] – Some history about how Jeff and Celisa got involved in e-learning/lifelong learning back in 1997. Also some history about the podcast and that it started three years ago in an effort to support and enhance a place-based learning event (the Leading Learning Symposium). They thought this was a valuable tactic (and one they’d recommend) because it helped them provide some preliminary content so attendees would have a baseline of knowledge and a social learning object. After the event, they decided to continue with the podcast because they felt the medium itself had a lot of potential as a learning channel—and it was gratifying to them personally.
[07:13] – But from the beginning, it’s been about serving leaders and aspiring leaders in the business of lifelong learning. They’ve tried to be very clear about who their audience was and what they were trying to provide for them. Jeff notes this is the only podcast they know of that focuses on leaders in the business of lifelong learning. Along the way, they’ve tried to get much clearer themselves in shaping the content they bring to the podcast around what those terms mean – both “business of lifelong learning” and “leaders”.
[09:19] – Celisa shares that when the podcast started three years ago, their deepest experience with businesses in lifelong learning was the association world so that was a clear area of focus for them. But within the last couple of years, they’ve gotten clear that although they still want to serve associations, they also want to embrace the idea that there’s a broader ecosystem of organizations working in the business of lifelong learning. They’ve become clear around the idea that all organizations in this business – regardless of how they’re structured – can learn from each other.
[11:14]– Jeff points out that this really is a different world to be working in and a large part of what they wanted to do with the podcast, and their work in general, is to help forge a sense of identity for the people who are working in the business of lifelong learning—and for that business itself. He says it is different from corporate training/higher education/academia. They’ve started to talk about it as a third sector or education, or what they call “the other 50 years” after formal education is finished. And there’s a growing recognition of how important lifelong learning is—see our related interview with John Horrigan of the Pew Research Center about findings from their Lifelong Learning and Technology report as well as our episode about the mainstreaming of lifelong learning based on a special report by The Economist.
[15:15] – A discussion about how they wanted to focus on “leaders” because of the importance of having people out there who are “leading” learning. There are too many organizations where learning should/could play a critical role but they don’t necessarily have the leaders that are recognized in that effort that they’re making around learning. So they want to support them and help them understand that they occupy a unique space—they are “leaders” and “learning leaders”. When you’re running a learning business, what you’re offering out to the world, field, or industry you serve, is directly trying to impact and change people’s lives behavior, and/or knowledge. This is a significant responsibility because it’s the beginning of a chain of influence that can have a really dramatic impact across whatever field or sector you’re serving. And the idea of “leading learning” is extremely important from the perspective of just about any business—it’s an incredibly powerful tool and takes a unique set of capabilities and capacity for a leader to really be effective and successful with leading learning. Celisa also emphasizes that while learning leaders are helping other learners, it’s also important to be leading their own learning—you need to model it and set the example.
[19:10] – Jeff explains how in general, they’ve tried to forge a sense of recognition and identity around this whole business of lifelong learning. They’ve tried to offer content and insights from their own expertise as well as podcast guests to enable listeners to do their jobs better. Any podcast episode is a great tool to use with your staff and team because it can be a social learning object to spark conversation, discussion, or growth learning—and if any one of the episodes did this for your organization, Jeff says that would be a huge success.
[20:38] – Celisa talks about the nature of the content they are trying to offer with the podcast. She says they’ve taken more of a programmatic approach in recent months/years. About two years ago, they developed the Learning Business Maturity Model and since then, they’ve begun to align, episodes (at least loosely) with the domains that are referenced in the model. They also try to vary between interviews and discussions with each other as well as add in trends. They expect to keep with this framework and in doing this they hope to unearth ideas/new models that are innovative and represent visionary thinking while still providing practical application.
[23:40] – Celisa adds that they really want the podcast to not only be about learning, but to also spark learning. They view it as a learning experience for them and for listeners to truly learn new ideas and insights, and their goal is to leave space for the unscripted. She admits that it feels like a great episode when they can have a conversation that reveals something they hadn’t anticipated and gives that new idea or insight. Jeff notes he’s become more interested in how to become a good interviewer over the years and it’s been a focus of personal growth for him. He recently had an interview with podcaster, KiKi L’Italien (link coming soon!) where they discussed how there’s been a renaissance in podcasting but Kiki said for her, it’s been a renaissance in storytelling. Going forward, to get better at the interviewing, Jeff shares he and Celisa are going to be focused on eliciting more of that story to make the podcast something listeners really look forward to week after week.
[26:59] – Wrap Up
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[25:56] – Sign off