Having trouble creating a habit of learning in your organization? Not sure what else you can do? You’re not alone.

66% of enterprise L&D leaders have trouble getting employees to engage with their training programs [Bersin by Deloitte].

Here’s the good news.

Degreed has a team dedicated to helping drive engagement and we have some proven tactics we can share that have improved the metrics at client organizations.

But first, the right mindset.

As the old saying goes, “takes one to know one.” So, let’s think about your personal online habits. You might notice there are certain things that drive you back to the same websites and apps day after day. In many cases, this repeated behavior is encouraged by way of a reminder in the form of an email or pop-up. These notifications provide a one-click option to visiting the site like you have probably received from sites like Amazon and Facebook.

Without having to think twice, a habit is born.

As it turns out, this notification tactic works for learning too. You can get in front of your audience on a regular basis by Degreed’s system generated engagement emails.

Degreed’s emails notifications notify your team of important learning events and suggested learning, making it easy to create a daily habit of learning.


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Need more than just metrics? Degreed client, Xilinx, has driven much of their adoption success through email communication.

Here’s a play by play of their strategy.

  1. The Xilinx team made marketing and communicating to their learners a top priority from day one of their launch in November 2016.
  2. They implemented a cascading communication roll out approach – beginning with executives and their staff, then introducing it to the rest of the organization with live briefings, demos, and videos.
  3. The communications strategy also included a message from the CEO prior to the official launch.
  4. These were followed by an email from the Senior Vice President of HR, and supporting collateral materials including posters, table tents, demos, videos and several webinars to ensure employees understood their new strategy, Learn to the Power of X (LearnX) and what it would mean for each employee’s professional and technical development.
  5. Based on pilot user feedback, they enabled daily reminders at launch, automatically generated by Degreed to provide a reminder to their team to encourage learning daily – and it’s working.  Over 43% of employees have logged in more than 5 times and 88% have visited. 

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Even though their metrics say a lot, feedback from the Xilinx team says even more:

“For us, the Daily Email has been a key part of our implementation success. Employees appreciate the personalized preview and the daily nudge to engage in learning.”

Start driving learner engagement today with Degreed!

habitat

My nephew is a big fan of nature. He regularly pulls out odd facts about animals I’ve never heard of. Admittedly, I’m a much better-informed auntie. Its probably because of these conversations that I’ve been paying more attention to articles about biomimicry, (taking design hints from nature to solve problems humans have). and thinking about how learning occurs in nature.

 Learning organisms and habitat

In March, I wrote about learning organisms. To summarize, in more evolved organizations, learning has pretty much taken on a life of its own. These organizations have in essence become organisms that learn, grow, and develop based on their habitat and their ability to make use of it. The more cohesive the habitat is, the more quickly learning organisms are able to react to environmental change, take calculated risks, and evolve as necessary.

More recently, as I’ve planned for a couple of Degreed Focus events, learning habitat has continued to surface as an important point. More evolved organizations react to the external environment by carefully crafting the internal habitat. Most of the things they do to create habitat fall within four major areas:

  • Consciousness. Learning organisms carefully craft messages and actions around the importance of employee development. They clearly define what it means to be developed in the organization, and they have a collective consciousness about how it will be done. Shared consciousness in an organization sets the tone for how important employee development will be taken. Leena Nair, CHRO of Unilever, makes this point with a recent tweet & LinkedIn discussion.
  • Use of work. As it turns out, no other animal in the animal kingdom, besides humans, gets classroom lessons on how to do their job. Learning most often happens in the flow of work, as recent research from Bersin and Bersin ideas from thinkers like Harold Jarche tell us. Learning organisms default first to the work for development.
  • Infrastructures. Infrastructures, including systems and processes, are the pathways by which learning organisms share information and do work. They are crucial because they can either encourage or greatly discourage progress and performance. Learning organisms are conscious of how their infrastructures, either encourage or discourage progress and performance and continuously make necessary adjustments.
  • Space. Physical and virtual space also affect how individuals learn. (I owe a conversation I had with Frank Graziano at Steelcase for sparking thinking on this topic; Read here for more.) While most L&D professionals understand the importance of the setup of a classroom, the idea of space in habitat goes beyond that. Learning organisms focus on ensuring the alignment and cohesiveness of physical and virtual spaces with work goals and employee development goals.

What habitats mean for L&D

The sole responsibility of L&D function is to ensure a skilled workforce. Hard stop. Habitat plays a large role in that. And focusing on habitat changes the job of the L&D function to a great extent. Aside from the obvious things, like a lesser focus on facilitation and content creation, establishing a deliberate learning habitat also requires several skills and capabilities that are likely unfamiliar to many L&D professionals.

Last week in Denver, around 50 L&D professionals joined together to figure out what some of those capabilities should be and how to use the idea of habitat to develop them in their L&D teams. We heard things like “ability to influence”, “marketing and communications”, “analytics and measurement,” and “virtual space design.”

We also talked about adapting more common L&D skills – facilitation, content creation, instructional design to broader tasks that help to create habitat. For example, could instructional design theory be applied to helping organizations design workflows in a way to help employees learn, and can skills that make a good facilitator be adapted to influence and build relationships with key stakeholders?

As we focus on habitats and their importance for the learning organization in the coming months, we’re going to continue to pick the brains of smart people. We want to find out not just what skills they need, but how they’re developing them.

Incidentally, this concept was presented at two Degreed Focus workshops on Learning Habitats and L&D capabilities in Denver and Dallas. You can access the materials used in this Degreed pathway.

This post, titled “Bees, Trees, Termites, Learning Habitats, and L&D Capabilities” was originally featured on the RedThread blog.

I work out of my house and I love it.  I love my commute of 10 steps vs my husbands 50 miles.  I love wearing pajamas from the waist down and quickly brushing my teeth at 4:00 p.m. when my husband comes home because I forgot.  One thing I don’t love about working from home?  Summertime.  With summer comes no school, with no school comes kids in the house, and with kids in the house there is no peaceful work environment.  Here starts every working persons nightmare known as “summer break” for those with children.

Every summer I am overwhelmed with answering the question, “How do you keep your kids busy all summer without taking out a small loan?”  If it were up to my kids, they would have a summer of unending computer time with occasional breaks to eat and sleep.  Last summer, I had the brilliant idea to take my two kids on a road trip and park it in the Midwest for a month and a half.  I had just bought a new car which had plenty of power outlet options to satisfy all your electronic device needs, and an open invitation from my sister some 1,200 miles away.

In my mind, I pictured a perfect opportunity to bond with my kids in which we would spend time playing car bingo, sing songs, deep conversations about what plagued my teenage son, and all the knock knock jokes I could manage from my ten-year-old.  My heart was full of joy to get a few days with the kiddos, they would have a fun summer adventure with their cousins, and I could work at a nearby coffee shop, uninterrupted, in my new remote, tranquil work environment.  This idea was brilliant.

After packing up the car with the necessities needed for a month in Iowa and enough food to feed a small army, I summoned my two kids to hop in the car.  I refused to let the argument between them about who got what seat and what pillow deter this epic Mother of the Year moment.  Deep down I believed this was going to be the best summer of our lives and a road trip we would cherish for years to come.  Car tank full of gas, husband hugged, cat fed, remote work station in backpack and we were off.

Ten minutes.  Ladies and gentlemen that’s all it took to dash my spirits.  Ten. Short. minutes.  Upon getting into the car, taking one picture, and backing out of the driveway, my kids had both put in their earplugs, laid down in their seats, and asked me to turn the music down.  I guess the car bingo and deep conversations would have to wait.

I was 450 miles into my northeast journey when I started struggling with being the lone driver.  My road trip playlist was on my nerves, kids were sleeping, and a flat Oklahoma highway was not the prettiest thing to look at.  I needed something to keep me awake and entertained by something that didn’t require cell phone service because I was in the middle of nowhere.  It was at this moment that my passion for podcasts was ignited.

For those that don’t know, a podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to at will.  Podcasts have been around for years, but I discovered them when I started working for Degreed.

screenshot4Degreed also introduced me to other experts whom I might want to learn from. The ability to follow others that you would like to learn from, or who inspire you or have like-minded interests led me to  Kat Kennedy, Degreed’s Chief Product Officer. She was the first person I choose to follow and if you look at her profile, you instantly see that she is an avid podcast listener.  After listening to a few that she had consumed and liked, I started to explore, subscribe and recommend my own.  My favorites?  The Hidden Brain, Ted Talks Business, Ideacast, and Planet Money.

Back to the roadtrip! Failing to stay awake with my own personal rock concert of The Greatest 80’s Hits, I looked at my pretty new dashboard and saw the Podcasts app.  To be honest, I had completely forgotten about podcasts and as I started to scroll through all the ones my phone had downloaded for me over the past few weeks I felt my brain perk up.  I started with a Hidden Brain podcast called “Slanguage” in which Shankar Vedantam talked to linguist John McWhorter about feeling irked when people use literally vs. figuratively.  I then listened to Harvard Business Review’s “Dealing with Conflict Avoiders and Seekers” where I learned some tips to dealing with conflict in the workplace and how to defuse heated conversations (which, by the way, also works very nicely in a car at 10:30 p.m. between an adult and an unnamed teenager).

That day alone I listened to 10 podcasts which totaled almost five hours of drive time but, more importantly, learning time.  How do I know?  Because the first thing I did after checking into my hotel that night was to add all those podcasts to my Degreed profile.  I then proceeded to browse for more podcasts, videos, and audiobooks that would keep my kids and I entertained for the next two days.  Together (yes, together!) we listened to episodes about how Whole Foods Market, TOMS, and Rolling Stones were created. I learned from Adam Alter why our electronic screens are making us less happy, and what top athletes do to stay mentally tough.  And I know this because it is all captured in my Degreed profile, aligned to my skill development interests in creativity, personal growth and motivation.

Last summer’s road trip did not go as I originally had planned, but what I gained will stay with me forever.  I now have insight into what inspires me, I found an interesting and unique way to connect with my kids and I learned many things along the way.

As you go about your day, I encourage you to remember that although it may not be a course or formal learning, what is available to you informally, at your fingertips is very valuable articles, news, podcasts, videos.  And don’t forget to capture all the learning you do with a simple click on your mobile device in the Degreed app, so you can showcase to others and yourself what interests you, how you like to learn, and what topics are important to you.  Had Kat not captured her learning and shared her interests, I may not have found my own love of podcasts.  If you look at my Degreed profile, May and July of 2017 will show a spike in my learning activity – also capturing a time in my life that I will always cherish.

According to the creators of Scrum and its body of knowledge, the Scrum Guide, Scrum is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum consists of Scrum Teams (a Product Owner, Development Team, and Scrum Master) and their associated events, artifacts, and rules.

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As successful organizations continue to nurture their ability to deliver with greater agility, they are increasingly turning to the Scrum framework to improve the way their teams work.  When applying Scrum, teams work together to continuously inspect and adapt how they work.

Even more good news

Scrum.org and Degreed have partnered to make learning and developing your Scrum skills even easier! The agreement will enable enterprise employees with a subscription to Degreed to learn general Scrum topics and those specific to their roles on the Scrum Team, helping organizations and individuals deliver higher value products.

By partnering with Degreed, Scrum.org has opened up an avenue for individuals on Scrum Teams to evaluate what they know (inspect) and continually learn (adapt) to enable continued professional growth.

“We are excited to have found a partner in Degreed who, like us, is focused on improving how people work in professional environments,” said Joel Lamendola, Vice President of Business Development of Scrum.org.  “By partnering with Degreed, we can bring Scrum learning paths to individuals within their enterprise clients to help those individual Scrum Team members become more effective in how they work within their Scrum Teams.”

To learn more about scrum and visit Scrum.org for further information on the organization’s Professional Scrum assessments, training, and global community; follow us on Twitter @scrumdotorg and read more from our community of experts on the Scrum.org blog.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Short for user-generated content, UGC is the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion forum posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publicly available to others consumers and end-users.

“UGC – user-generated content.” Beal, Vangie. Webopedia. February 2018. IT Business Edge. https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/U/UGC.html (accessed February 2, 2018).


In a Learning & Development context, user-generated content (UGC) is unofficial educational content created in one person’s area of expertise for others to learn from. UGC can be an article, a video, an infographic, a chart, or any other representation of information.

Some UGC is internal, on your company intranet or wiki sites. Other UGC is public, on sites like YouTube or Medium that allow users to share content they’ve created. If you choose to use UGC, you can rely on internal content, or curate public UGC.

UGC can help you promote peer learning and learning with technology. Internal UGC transforms employees’ institutional knowledge to collective wisdom distributed throughout your company. You no longer need to limit your L&D offerings to topics you have instructional design time for. SMEs can recommend public UGC when it exists or create UGC, freeing your L&D team to focus on the highest-value skills your organization needs.

Next post: Resource

Thousands of dollars.
Thousands of hours of training and preparation.
A team of experts who offer support.

All those resources boiling down to a few hours of performance with limited results: a win or a loss. Sound like a situation we in Learning and Development know too well? How about every time we create a course or formal training.

So, what can learning learn from these exceptional Olympic athletes? You don’t become a world-class expert from one training session.

Mikaela Shiffrin, a 22-year old alpine skier currently competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, strapped her first pair of ski boots on at the age of 3. Now 22-years old, she’s been practicing for 19 years. Her success comes from many things, including incredibly hard work, and a variety of activities.

According to The New Yorker, she starts her days with a 10-minute warm-up on the stationary bike and stretching. Interval training is a big part of her training, Strength training is a major focus of her program, including circuits filled with sprints pushing and pulling a weighted sled, squats, rowing machine work, and skating on a slideboard. But that’s not all. She also spends time working on her balance and…wait for it… sleeping! She sleeps nine hours each night, on average, and naps every single day.

As proven by Mikaela, achieving Olympic glory requires mastery, over time, using a variety of techniques, repeated in a variety of intensities and even locations. This recipe serves as an example of how employee learning should look: varied, available in multiple formats, and based on the individual.

According to Degreed, the learning journey is similar.

Degreed was founded on the idea that we build our skills over a lifetime, stitching together a variety of experiences. It takes courses and books, articles, videos and podcasts. It also takes lots of searching, practice, trial, and error. And perhaps most meaningful is the guidance, feedback, reflection and coaching along the way.

So what does this mean for L&D Managers and organizations?

Learning happening in a variety of ways means we have to support a variety of modalities to keep our employees engaged.

Much like training for the Olympics, there isn’t one magical system to create greatness. You need an integrated ecosystem that approaches training and learning from different areas.

These ecosystems often include LMSs, but they are increasingly supplemented by solutions for curating open resources, managing micro-learning and automating feedback.

The near future of learning technology is here, and intelligent networks of tools, content, systems, people, and data all working together to empower your workforce to be world-class. To help them learn better, faster and more cost-effectively.

For advice on how to pick the right tools for the job, check out Degreed’s Innovator’s Guide to the Near Future of Learning Technology.

Degreed supports users around the world. Users come from more than 146 countries, and that grows every month. Degreed has many international and multinational organizations with offices across the globe. Degreed itself has offices in the US, Europe, and Australia and remote employees located in more than 7 countries. Degreed provides a seamless experience for our users regardless of language or location and complies with international laws for security and data privacy.

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Multi-Language Support

Degreed provides multi-language support for 26 languages, including right-to-left languages, with new languages added all the time. Degreed will automatically detect the user’s language based on the user’s browser settings, and display the platform in their preferred language. To see the complete list of supported languages visit our last post on the topic.

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Security and Privacy

Security and data privacy laws vary from country to country. The EU has some of the strictest guidelines. Degreed leverages the global network of Microsoft Azure data centers to comply with all of these international guidelines. Microsoft Azure includes more than one million servers in more than 100 data centers in countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, UK, India, Japan, China, Australia, and Brazil. Azure data centers in Germany are controlled by a German data trustee to comply with requirements in Germany.

EU Cookie and Data Privacy Laws

Cookies is a hot topic in the EU right now, so Degreed complies with the Cookie regulations by warning users in the EU of cookie use. For more information on how Degreed uses cookies, visit Cookies.

To comply with EU data privacy laws, Degreed will provide a customizable data privacy notification for users.

Takeaways

Regardless of where your employees are located, Degreed has your back.

Twelve years ago, my sister in law and I were sitting down for a family dinner and she leaned over and informed me she was training to run a marathon.  “I’m in the best shape of my life,” she exclaimed.  We had both just given birth to our second children and one of us (me) was NOT in the best shape of her (my) life.  My competitive genes kicked in and next thing you know, I’m signed up for a half marathon with only three months to train.  I was not a runner, had no desire to run, and to be honest, thought all runners were crazy.  However, anything she could do, I could do so – off to the races.

The next few weeks I spent purchasing new shoes, new headphones, downloading the best mixtape ever curated, and going to the gym a few times a week to run on a treadmill.    I figured that as long as I could run 10 miles on a treadmill, I could run a half marathon.  Right?  How hard could it be?  I honestly had no idea what I was doing, no training plan in place, but I knew that if I had shoes, music, and determination, I would be amazing.

Race day came. I was up at the crack of dawn with nerves.  When the gunshot rang out, I sprinted out with complete abandon.  Halfway through the course, I was in pain, my music player had died, and I was miserable.  I finished my race, took my expensive shoes off, drove home and threw them away.  I did not feel in the best shape of my life. In fact, I was sore from head to toe with three new blisters.

Fast-forward ten years. I have moved into a new home in a new neighborhood and know no one.  A friendly neighbor came by to introduce herself and asked if I’d be interested in meeting her and a few other girls in the morning to run.  “Run,” I laughed, “ah no thank you.”  She didn’t take no for an answer and I found myself waking up at 4:00 a.m the next morning to be picked up by my new friend to go run.

As we pulled into the dark parking lot, I saw a group of eight women waiting, and flashes of misery, doubt, and pure panic set in.  These people, however, welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me from beginning to end.  We ran five miles that day, stopping along the way to stretch and laugh.  I didn’t feel pain or misery, anger or shame.  I felt encouraged, strong, and accomplished.  Sure, I wasn’t running a four-minute mile, but I had just run five miles and it went by fast and I was actually having fun!  I was hooked.

You see, when others are in the trenches with you and there to support with encouragement, it means more.  You have more energy and more drive because the people surrounding you don’t want you to fail.  The same goes for learning.  Without a good support system around you, who will be there to continue to encourage you during your points of frustration?  Who will be your coach along the way when you don’t understand a concept or have the same question over and over again?  When looking to learn something new, 69% of people turn to a boss or mentor first to point them in the right direction.  I find that to be personally true because I am more likely to want to read, listen, watch something that has been recommended by someone who knows me.

Degreed has been my coach in the world of learning and development for the past year and a half.  Degreed gives me credit along the way for any learning activity that I do throughout my day.  I get recommendations from others who have like-minded interests on topics that really motivate me.  I’m challenged with ongoing development opportunities by being able to capture my skill level goals and get manager’s feedback along the way.  I receive suggestions for new and different modalities of learning that spark my creativity.  I get tangible results by seeing how much learning and development I am investing in my career.  Just like I see all the miles I run on my Garmin watch, Degreed shows me all the learning I’ve accomplished in my lifetime.

Since meeting those girls, I have run seven marathons, twelve half-marathons, and had more blisters than I care to count and I have loved every minute of it.  What made the difference?  Support, encouragement, feedback, and like-minded connections.  Do you get that with your learning and development coach?  If not, check out Degreed.

 

What would you do if you could build a vision and strategy for learning at your company completely from scratch?  What would your structure and plan be? What specific things would you continue doing and what would you do differently?

The world of learning and work is changing dramatically so you may want to consider a few different areas as you think about your learning vision of the future.

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Culture

How would you imagine the perfect learning culture? Company cultures that support learning as a core, fundamental part of everything employees do every day are realizing their competitive advantage. Also, cultures that identify learning as a key guiding principle enable employees to continue to build the skills that they need for the future. Does your culture put learning front and center?

Content

I know when I ran learning organizations at Sun, Yahoo, and LinkedIn, we thought that we had to create most of the learning content ourselves.  But now, there is so much content out there, you may not need to create all your own anymore. The perfect balance is probably a little of both. What would a new content strategy look like in your company?

Technology

Technology is another component of your vision and strategy that can easily be re-imagined.  Your employees want to learn on-demand and they need personalized content that fits their particular needs. How can you think about learning technology in a new way – in a way that supports what the learner really wants and needs to build relevant skills for the future? Imagine a technology that incorporates curated content, personalization, social features, analytics, and skill plans as the platform that could support your learning strategy.

Analytics

Learning analytics and insights are key to understanding what your employees are learning and what skills they are building.  Does your learning strategy incorporate analyzing learner data and agile improvements so that you can validate and refine your strategy on an ongoing basis?

Internal Skills / Team

What about the people in your learning organization?  Do they have the skills and expertise to take you to the future? They are expanded and different than what might have been enough in the past.

For example, do they know how to curate content and analyze learning data? Can they facilitate online peer-to-peer learning or incorporate video content into in-person training? These are just some of the skills that the learning organization of the future will need.

Vision, strategy, culture, content, technology, analytics, and people. These are just some of the topics I’ll be discussing with Christopher Lind, Learning Experience and Digital Transformation Leader for GE Healthcare at our upcoming LENS conference in Chicago on September 28. I hope you’ll join us so that together we can develop the structure for making your vision a reality.

Many of us have been there. You pull in to LaMars or Krispy Kreme and there is a 10×10 case full of at least 10 choices of donuts. You’ve got sprinkles, filled, iced, cake, yeast, chocolate, vanilla, maple, circle, log…the choices go on.

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The same goes for learning. You do an online search on a subject area in which you need more information, and poof – 200,000 results. You’ve got a library of content to sift through. This many choices can be confusing and maybe even paralyzing in some cases. People think, “Where do I begin” or “How can I find the best of this?” In some spheres, we can rely on expert judgment or crowdsourcing for the initial vetting (think Consumer Reports and Amazon’s star ratings).

But here’s where curation is like donuts – both are better in moderation.

As said by the Oppenheimer AVP of Organizational Development, Patrick Osborne, “There is a diminishing return in having too much content.  One donut is a treat.  Five is a tummy ache.  Ten donuts is a trip to the ER.”

While ten donuts seems like a good idea (been there, done that!), the after effects – not so much. Same goes for content. Too many choices means the user will make no choice – they are too overwhelmed.

In a world of virtually limitless information and learning content, the curator provides a valuable service by simplifying what people see and sifting out all the noise, junk, and inferior options.

Osborne’s advice? “Measure by weight, not by volume.  Be ruthlessly selective. The curator is also a de facto editor.  She decides what people will see, and what they won’t.  There’s an awesome power and responsibility in that.”

It’s good advice, but how does the rubber hit the road? How is Oppenheimer using curation? Well, you will have to come to Degreed LENS in September and attend Patrick’s workshop, “Upskill Yourself: Curating Skills” to find out. Kidding. Kind of.

Like many organizations, Oppenheimer is increasingly hearing from individuals that they have “no time” for learning.  Patrick thinks that’s partly reality but also a statement of modern learner preference—employees want things to be as short, convenient, and interesting as we can make it.  We used to be able to sell 20-30 minute online learning programs.  Now people want 2-3 minute microlearning.

Thanks to curation, the best, most relevant resources for the individual have already been served up in a single place. Oppenheimer is now offering a much broader range of options for learners than they have in the past, and shifting resources away from developing and delivering traditional learning (or outsourcing it) and concentrating on building an infrastructure based on learner centricity.

Patrick’s favorite thing about curation? “I enjoy the challenge of the hunt and the thought that goes into crafting something well.  The mechanics of creating learning pathways are trivially simple.  The challenge (the art?) is in creating a pathway someone would willingly and voluntarily spend time using.  That requires thought and skill and creativity.”

For real this time – Patrick will be speaking about Oppenheimer’s curation journey, alongside Harley-Davidson and St. Charles Consulting Group, at Degreed LENS in September. There are still spots for the conference and his workshop – register and get more information here! Who knows – donuts may be included.

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