Reflections from one learning professional about Learning 2011

It’s hard to believe but another year of Learning is now in the books. The Masie Consortium’s annual learning conference is always my favorite time of year, as a learning professional and it’s that one time every year that I can converge with over 2,000 other learning professional who all speak my language and I speak theirs! Naturally, this year did not disappoint one bit, from big name keynotes like President Bill Clinton, Betsy Myers and John Lithgow, to informal conversations with other like-minded professionals, to new innovations that are hitting the ground running. The wealth of information shared at Learning 2011 conference was invaluable.

This year was another roaring rendition of the 30 under 30 scholarship program. It’s wonderful to see more and more learning professionals under the age of 30 attending the conference. Last year was the first year the Masie Consortium offered this unique opportunity. I can remember attending my first Learning conference in 2008 at the age of 23 and only being one of three other learning professionals under the age of 25.  Last year, it was an honor to be a part of the program and meet others who were in similar shoes as me. This year, eight of us were able to return and welcome the new cohort of young professionals. It was especially exciting for me as my colleague was accepted into the 30 under 30 program and able to experience the unique opportunity.

This year’s conference had a number of themes that were strung and threaded every session I attended: empowering learners, encouraging leadership across all levels, the power of storytelling, and the array of impacts technology is having on our industry (mostly for the positive). To elaborate on those topics regarding technologies impact on our future, they included a re-evaluation on how we look at the instructional design process, is ID dead? Also, how is technology impacting our brains, memories and retention information? Also, with the changing workplace and workforce how is technology impacting the 4 generations that currently work cohesively with one another on a daily basis?

I only experienced one blip in this year’s conference and it was the same topic that has been beaten into the ground over the past few years – Generation Y and the stereotypes that are placed upon us. My friend and fellow 30 under 30 alum, Sarah Bloomfield wrote a brilliant blog post on this topic as it was being debated informally through conversations and Twitter during the conference. She tells her critics not to judge us and listen to our story. As Bill Clinton told us, you should never begrudge someone else’s chance in life. Everybody has a story and every life has something interesting about it. We have to learn how to listen to a story before we can tell a story. As learning professionals we are educated to do this and it saddens me to see peers casting stereotypes on younger professionals because of what they’ve heard or seen in their jaded past. As Sarah Bloomfield says in her post, “Don’t stereotype me.  Ask me.  Learn my story.”

Remember what our dear friend Sigmund Freud told us many moons ago (1955), “One cannot explain things to unfriendly people,” Don’t be that unfriendly sole. During his keynote session, Bill Clinton told us the younger generation has an opportunity to reinvent democracy. People have been betting against America since it started and we shouldn’t be pessimistic about our country’s future; that includes our people, government, land and selves. Let’s work together to erase some of these stereotypes and show the world how motivated we all are to work together and empower the rest of the world to be leaders and educators! Thank you to my fellow peers and the Masie Consortium for another memorable year and the power of knowledge! I look forward to connecting with my new and old friends on ways to integrate the golden nuggets we learned into our jobs and organizations.

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