In an earlier post we discussed the three major themes for the Leading Learning Symposium: reach, revenue, and impact. These themes will drive how we structure the program at the event, and they represent the outcomes we are striving to help attendees achieve.
Based on our work with many organizations over many years, we see four major threads that weave together to support and connect these themes: strategy, learning, marketing, and technology.
Strategy answers the question “How will we create value that is significantly better than the alternatives, and for whom?” Even successful education businesses need to revisit this question regularly and strive for clarity in answering it. Strategy provides the framework within which decisions about the direction of your education business can be made. Throughout the symposium, we’ll consider how to make better strategic decisions and how, in general, to develop and maintain a clear and compelling strategy.
Learning is inward and outward. The ability to learn—and, as a result, change—is fundamental to the long-term success of any business. And, of course, education businesses also aim to help their customers effectively learn and change. Based on research conducted in recent years, we know more about how learning happens than ever before. Successful education businesses seek to actively apply this knowledge to themselves as well as to the products and services they provide to their markets. We’ll highlight and engage with effectively learning practices continuously throughout the symposium.
Marketing is too often equated with advertising, but the classical approach to marketing suggests that it consists of four components: product, price, placement (distribution), and promotion. Successful education businesses must understand how these four areas interact to drive perceptions in the market and, ultimately, sales. And, of course, it helps to know how to execute effectively within each of the four components. A key goal of the symposium will be to cultivate a deeper understanding of marketing and to acquire new skills and tools for successful execution.
Recent advances in technology have changed dramatically how it is possible for us approach the previous three areas. The strategies we should consider, the ways in which we can create and enhance learning experiences, and our ability to communicate with prospective learners and connect them with the right experiences—technology has impacted all of these. We’ll reference technology again and again during the symposium and consider the specific trends most likely to impact the market for continuing education and professional development.
Weaving the Threads
Our aim at the symposium will be to weave these four threads together throughout all of the sessions and activities. There will not be a technology track, a strategy track, etc. This is a common but misguided approach taken at many conferences. These threads should not exist in isolation in our learning anymore than they exist in isolation in our day-to-day actions and decision making.
Instead, we’ll draw on current learning research to “interleave”* them within scenarios, case studies, and the content pods that will be presented during the symposium. Doing this will require more effort—on both the organizers’ and the learners’ part—than gets put into a typical conference, but the result will be a much higher likelihood of achieving the outcomes we are aiming for and co-creating learning that really sticks.
Jeff & Celisa
* See, in particular, the work of Robert Bjork at UCLA.