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ATD Blog

Connecting the Dots: My 2024 Spring Lab Learning Journey

Tuesday, June 4, 2024
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The lessons I learned attending the spring 2024 ATD Forum virtual lab “Learning About Learning - An Adventure of Discovery” went beyond the course content and scheduled learning times. Being a learner in this lab reminded me of the importance of championing my self-directed learning, reflecting on my learning journey, and connecting the dots between my knowledge and how I am designing professional learning opportunities for our staff.

As the workshop description stated, “One of the critical skills for being future-ready in a world of constant disruptions and change is learning how to learn.” We also talk a lot about “getting better at getting better.” During the spring 2024 ATD Forum virtual lab, I did just that: I got better at learning how to learn.

Catherine Lombardozzi, lifelong learning and development practitioner and founder of Learning 4 Learning Professionals, walked us through her Charting Your Course framework that includes:

1. Orientating. Identifying a learning need, determining goals, guiding questions, and the Big Why
2. Wayfinding. Navigating to get to your destination including what resources you need (books, webinars, podcasts, interpersonal connections, etc.) to curate the best learning material
3. Journeying with application and habit formation
4. Waypoints. Pausing, reviewing, reassessing, and re-energizing

We also intentionally focused on learning more about our learning journey using tools, techniques, and concepts based on the science of learning.

Here are my three top takeaways from my learning experience journey:

Takeaway 1 – Make Learning Durable

As part of the course, we identified a self-directed learning project. I started by going through the ATD Talent Development Capability Model™ for the first time and assessing my skills and knowledge to identify a project.

I initially selected assessment of learning, focusing on calculating return on investment, as my learning topic. However, after reviewing the pre-reading assignments from the priming phase of the lab, including Catherine’s InSync training e-book Thriving as a Learning Professional, and going through the information on orientating, I felt I needed to change my initial project idea to do something more relevant to my current work. New at our organization will be a requirement for personal learning as part of a new capability model rollout. Something that was at the top of my mind was individualized development plans (IDPs) and how they fit into the overall staff development and performance management process.

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As we learned through Dana Alan Koch’s research and work around the principles of durable learning, “relevant instruction leverages real-world problems of importance to the learner. It builds on the foundation of prior knowledge.”

Making the project relevant to my current project would also be the best use of my time during the lab, so it was a double win for me. Additionally, it would motivate me to continue exploring this topic and my own personal learning while moving my IDP project forward.

Takeaway 2 – Leverage ATD Forum Resources

As we continued the workshop, I defined my “compass point” or “big why” and learned about self-assessment tools that are helpful in the orientating phase, such as Langford’s Capacity Matrix (LCM). We used a variation of the LCM to break down the skills we needed to assess our current level using a scale similar to Bloom’s taxonomy–from essential information/input, knowledge/action, know-how/feedback, and wisdom/integration–and then listed out what was needed to support our learning strategy.

As I was working through this activity, I listed as part of my learning strategy “understanding what other organizations were doing around IDPs.” During a breakout session with my peers, I was reminded of the ATD Forum on-demand survey, which allows Forum members to quickly benchmark member practices or initiatives on any talent topic. I assessed where I was, paused my learning as part of the Waypoints process, and moved from planning to action immediately.

With the assistance of my PAEA colleague Kendall Mealy and the ATD Forum staff, we developed and launched PAEA’s first on-demand survey on development plans for employee learning. Forum members can design a survey with up to 10 questions and include the option to connect one-on-one with other responding members for a deeper dive. Simultaneously, I conducted research online using resources from ATD and others.

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Within 10 days, I was given the results of the just-in-time benchmarking survey and several IDP templates. The information shared has provided invaluable insights into our capabilities model and IDP rollout. We are still sifting through all the excellent feedback and examples as we finalize our form and strive to keep the process manageable for our staff.

After reviewing the survey feedback and resources and thinking through our overall planning, we separated our end-of-year process (performance management) from the capabilities and IDP rollout (career development). We are building our project planning timelines and training materials for our people managers and staff for a summer kick-off.

Takeaway 3 – Sharing Is Critical

After the formal learning sessions, MJ Hall asked volunteers to present their learning stories. I initially hesitated because my project wasn’t complete. I also confessed that I was nervous about presenting to my peers. MJ got on a call with me and reminded me: “Everyone is a learner. Everyone is a teacher.” It resonated with me, and I agreed to share my learning journey. Doing so allowed me to pause, synthesize what I learned, and assess my next steps. These were essential parts of the journeying process for me.

I also benefited by listening to the other attendees’ learning stories. Hearing about their learning experiences and preparing for my own was a valuable way to reinforce the framework and content and helped me gain the confidence to pull together my story.

In summary, my participation in the spring 2024 ATD Forum virtual lab reminded me of the importance of making learning durable, the resources available through the ATD Forum, and why sharing what you are learning is critical to professional growth. During the eight weeks, I reflected on my learning journey, gained new skills to enhance my learning process, applied the Chartering Your Course framework, and moved forward with a crucial PAEA project.

This lab’s design—a mix of formal presentations, small group peer consultants, and reflection time spaced over the course, with opportunities to informally connect, collaborate, and share with peers—was a good reminder of best practices when designing learning opportunities for my organization. Doing so helped keep me engaged. Additionally, turning my experience into a story will make the learning stick.

About the Author

Christine Vucinich is an instructional specialist on PAEA's People and Culture Team. She collaborates on developing professional development programs and employee experiences. Contact her at [email protected].

2 Comments
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Christine, thank you for sharing your takeaways with us so we can leverage them!
Thanks so much Yasmin!
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