When we decided to grow Degreed LENS from an after-work happy hour to a full-day event, we weren’t exactly sure how things would shake up. But in true Degreed fashion, we said “go big or go home” at the top of our lungs, and put together a two-day extravaganza featuring a client summit and a day-long innovators conference.

We chose the theme: The Business of Building Skills, because if learning organizations want to be seen as a contributor to the business, we have to start talking and acting like it. So each session paired an L&D leader with a business unit exec like finance, innovation, strategy and even a couple company Presidents and Partners.

In a glimpse, we had:

  • Attendees from 35 states and 12 countries
  • 13 sessions with 26 speakers (50% of which were female!)
  • 361 attendees
  • 199 clients
  • 15+ industries represented
  • 400 Expertise Economy books signed
  • 7 sponsors
  • More laughs from Dan Lyons’ session than anyone could count (seriously, we tried!)

We don’t mean to brag, but there were truly too many highlights to capture. So we picked our five favorite ideas.

  1. Answers from a company President: The correct answer to ‘why should I upskill my workforce if they will end up leaving?’ is ‘because they will leave sooner if you don’t.’
  2. Advice from a CFO: When you think about asking for funding for a program, it’s immensely helpful to frame it as how that program or platform is going to contribute to the overall business goals for the future.
  3. Suggestions from a Head of Corporate Talent & Strategy: Employees are an asset even though they aren’t represented that way on a balance sheet. That’s means skills are a currency we need to support.
  4. A challenge from a Partner: We don’t need to invest in expensive strategies – they will change in 3-6 months. We need to invest in talent that is agile and can refresh itself to adapt which means you can’t have a business strategy if you don’t have a talent strategy.
  5. A new framework from an Executive Chairman: There isn’t a standard metric for measuring skills even though that is a top question for CEO’s today. So Degreed created a measurement suite including the new Skill Review. With it, organizations can benchmark employee skills, signal their expertise inside the company and see how people are progressing over time as they prepare for their next role.

If you were there, we thank you. If you weren’t, you are likely suffering from FOMO. And to be honest, we wish you were there, too.

But sometimes things don’t pan out the way we want them to. That’s why we are in the process of putting all of the presentation materials in the 2018 Degreed LENS Pathway, which you can enroll in here. We also recorded a bunch of the sessions and will have those videos live soon.

Next year will be even better – keep an eye out for our 2019 location announcement.

Look forward to seeing you at a Degreed event soon.

Airbnb is one of the most prominent technology startups to emerge in the past decade and has rapidly become a major force in the global travel industry. Since its founding in 2008, it claims more than 4 million listings in over 65,000 cities and 191 countries worldwide.

Airbnb has experienced rapid growth in its first decade by expanding its bookings and revenues as well as its global footprint. This challenge translated internally as well – how do you ensure that more than 4000 colleagues around the world are equipped with the right skills to compete, lead, and deliver a powerful experience to their clients?

The learning team needed a model that reflected how they actually learn—consuming information on the fly, in dedicated bursts of attention, and on their own schedule. And they targeted managers first.

Amplify: Developing Leadership

As Airbnb’s learning team empowered employees to rapidly find critical information, they also kicked off a new program called Amplify to create a leadership development program at no extra cost.

The approach is built upon what the learning team knows about how people really learn and put skills into practice, particularly in a hypergrowth environment. Airbnb is in the process of rolling out the program to more than 700 globally dispersed managers—nearly a fifth of the workforce—at a fraction of the cost of traditional programs.

“A lot of the feedback that we get from people who go through Amplify is they love the fact that they can do this whenever and however it suits them, and that it’s not mandatory for them to be in a location for a good chunk of time—particularly people who are more reflective in their learning style,” says Barry Murphy, global learning lead at Airbnb.

Want to know the six core people leadership behaviors Airbnb is targeting or the structure of the training inside the Amplify program? Barry will take the stage at Degreed LENS next Thursday to share how they created the program, and there are still a few (10 to be exact) tickets remaining.

Join us before it’s too late!

 

 

There has been so much change in Learning and Development in the last decade, it’s hard to imagine what the next 5 years will hold.

Consider these life-changing advances we’ve experienced in the last 10 years: in 2007, Netflix launched and the first Kindle was released, Android Software and the iPad were released in 2010 and coffee-lovers cheer, the first Keurig for home use launched in 2012.

The inventors of these technologies started their lifelong learning journeys in the same place – grade school. Did you know one teacher can impact 25 students every day and up to 4,000 students during their career? Teachers that receive quality professional development can impact student achievement by 21 percentile points. By investing in our teacher’s professional development, the return in learning is 25x.

To enrich the learning experiences of students across the United States, organizations like Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)  are committed to offering professional development resources to K-12 computer science teachers.

In preparation for her speaking session at LENS, I recently interviewed CSTA Director of Professional Development, Marina Theodotou on the future of education and learning.

Marina believes that education is rapidly evolving, much like the shifts we’ve seen in technology. Theodotou predicts that in the next five years we will need to learn to sharpen problem-solving and social interaction skills at a faster pace to keep up with the increasing speed of information and doing business globally. These skills will also be required to differentiate ourselves from  AI robots that have already taken over activities that take 30 seconds or less.

“The way to ensure that the learning sticks is to break it down into smaller chunks and make sure it’s  implementable,” she added.

So what is CSTA doing to ensure knowledge transfer among their teachers and staff?

“Computer Science changes rapidly so we must constantly make new content and learning opportunities available to educators.  We partnered with Degreed because we can curate content and create pathways on a variety of subjects. Degreed’s daily feed serves users new content every day is especially popular. It makes teachers lives easier because they can take that content and use it in their classrooms every day,” responded Marina.

CSTA teachers appreciate the easy access to diverse learning resources. The daily feed breaks learning down into smaller activities and makes it easy for teachers to implement what they learn.

Additionally important to learning from others is the investment we make in ourselves. I asked Marina what her most memorable learning experience was and how she was applying it today.

“When I was starting my career, I was invited to lunch by the CEO of Bank of America at the time, Mr. Hugh McColl. The 1.5-hour lunch was like getting an MBA. I asked him what the 3 ingredients to success were,  he said: to succeed you need brains, guts and public speaking skills. The next day I signed up to Toastmasters International and a year later got my competent toastmaster certification. Since then, I added two more skills to the mix: heart, which includes values, emotional intelligence and empathy, and tech skills, including knowing how to code, problem-solving and navigating social media. These pearls of wisdom have carried me throughout my career over the last 25 years.”

To hear more about her learning journey and how CSTA is specifically supporting our educators, please make time to attend Degreed LENS, September 28th in Chicago. Marina Theodotou will be speaking alongside UC Berkeley and Accenture for the session Upskill, Reskill, Repeat: How to Get Ready for Career-Long Learning with UC Berkeley, Accenture, and CSTA.

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.

Most organizations are feeling the burn of the changes happening in L&D. 60-year careers, multiple generations, a dispersed workforce, decreasing skill tenures. It’s a lot to take on, and it’s putting more pressure on our team’s than ever before. As practitioners, we must be continuously well-versed in at least several areas of expertise to remain relevant and contributing.

Enter the villain in the story – time. It’s something we’re all short on.

So what if you only had time to get stronger in 3 places – where should you focus? Sarice Plate, Xilinx Senior Director of Global Talent Acquisition and Development, has advised her team to get savvy in the following:

  1. Curation

It’s crucial to be able to make sense of the plethora of content that’s available with the click of a button. Not only are we inundated with options, but how do we determine quality on the fly? There are tools like Facebook and Instagram that benefit from causing distractions, not to mention our phones buzz constantly at new alerts and Google returns hundreds of thousands of search results. It’s important to cut through the noise and quickly find relevant content in the moment of need. Hellooooo curation!

“Curators are the great librarians of our time, cataloging and prioritizing the best content,” commented Caroline Soares, Director of Curation Services at Degreed.

2. Marketing

For today’s L&D teams to be successful, they must also act as marketers, selling the need to continuously learn. “We need to appeal to our learners, and being ‘appealing’ is a marketing problem, not a learning issue. As learning people, we need to inspire employees, influence how they behave and compel them to engage with us and our learning, with the goal of motivating engagement,” said Susie Lee, Director of Client Engagement at Degreed.

In her experience at Xilinx, Plate’s team uses their marketing skills almost daily, working to influence the business, and increase stakeholder engagement. As digital transformation continues to saturate, they continue to find themselves more involved in curriculum design rather than just designing and setting up training courses.

3. Technical knowledge and data analytics

Technology is constantly changing, so, L&D practitioners are required to be more digitally savvy, and more technical than ever before. We must understand the tech our employees are already using, write and curate content that’s exciting and consumable. To do that, we must understand consumption, behavior.

These might feel like these skills are completely untraditional for an L&D professional to have. And you’d be right. But with 56% of current workforce skills set not matching organization’s strategy and goals (ATD, Bridging the Skills Gap, 2015), we should do something different than we have been if we want to be successful. And it’s not all bad.

“With the roll out of our new [learning] strategy, every member of my team is now engaged, helping with content curation, consulting with the business to build pathways, designing curriculum to best meet the needs of the business. It’s truly been a shift for some, including myself, but we’re embracing it and we’re making the shift so far successfully.  I think the team overall feels more energized now and excited about our roles and how we can impact and build organizational capability,” said Plate.

Looking for a way to grow your expertise in some of these skills? Skill development workshops at Degreed LENS will cover these themes and more. Join us in Chicago on September 28th!

logo_csta

Our teachers are given incredible responsibility – to grow the minds of our future leaders. And at some point, you may have wondered, how do these selfless individuals get trained for such a big task? It may seem obvious – a college degree and ongoing certifications. But you might be surprised to find out that “most states don’t have certification for computer science so most teachers in K12 have no education in computer science,” shared Mark Nelson, Ph.D., and Executive Director for the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

Despite the demand from the larger economy, “fewer than 10% of schools offer a computer science program,” added Dr. Nelson. This means that many computer science teachers actually come from different disciplines – math, science, continuing tech education such as business or IT, even gym and Spanish.

So how are they finding the resources they need to be effective computer science teachers when some have had little to no training in this space?

Many come to CSTA, a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines at the K-12/pre university level. Recently, Degreed partnered with CSTA to create the first-of-its-kind professional development (PD) platform for K-12 computer science teachers, known as the Continuing Professional Development Pipeline (CPD Pipeline).

The CPD Pipeline is designed to address a key challenge in K-12 computer science education: growing the pool of teachers who are both competent and confident in teaching computer science concepts and practices.

“In capability and philosophy, Degreed and CSTA were a match,” commented Dr. Nelson. “But what struck us was the initial conversations with Degreed made us rethink the whole situation. Our problem wasn’t in providing training, it was a workforce development problem. We needed to make sure our workforce was continually learning, growing and had the skills that matched the current workforce.”

CSTA

With a new sense of purpose, CSTA wanted a solution that could supply teachers with 5 core learning components:

1)        self-assessments of skills, interests, and experience

2)        personalized PD roadmaps to guide the process

3)        digital badging, with support from Badgr;

4)        link to the computer science community to connect with other teachers, tackle challenges and celebrate wins; digital portfolios to showcase PD and manage career paths.

“We are proud and excited for the opportunity to partner with CSTA to transform the way K12 computer science teachers access and benefit from meaningful and relevant Professional Development programs,” shared David Blake, CEO and co-founder of Degreed. “In leveraging Degreed, CSTA will be able to help any number of teachers advance their professional development and certification in computer science, in turn, giving even more students access to the information and knowledge needed to build their own skills and expertise.”

While CSTA is excited about the user-friendly environment and learning pathways provided by Degreed, Dr. Nelson is inspired by what the future could bring. “This could be a new way to teacher certification – this could be huge in terms of rethinking how certification happens in K12,” he said.

We thank CSTA for their dedication to skill development and the future – for all they are doing to educate our teachers and for the significant role they play in bettering the futures of our students.

Interested in becoming a creator of technology instead of just a consumer? Check out the CPD Pipeline here. And if you’re an Association interested in driving member engagement and creating your own learning pathways on any subject,  Degreed can help.

 

LEtsget

As much as we would like to believe it, and as nice as it sounds, we don’t develop our people out of the goodness of our own hearts.  Businesses have important goals and a bottom line, and in order to hit those goals, they need to make money.  And if they don’t, shareholders, customers, and employees are all unhappy because the business will likely fail.

It might come as a surprise, but employee engagement is nearly as important as the bottom line. Research from Gallup ties engaged employees to better customer ratings, productivity, sales, and higher profitability. These organizations also saw significantly less turnover, shrinkage and absenteeism and quality defects.

But only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.

Enlightened CLOs, like Sarice Plate of Xilinx and Susie McNamara of General Mills, focus on both the development of skills needed to get the job done as well as engaging employees. “When employees are excited to learn, they feel more empowered, engaged and productive, and they become more valuable to the business,” said Sarice Plate, Head of Global Talent Aquisition at Xilinx, at a recent Bersin by Deloitte and Degreed-sponsored webinar.

But meeting both short-term needs for performance as well as the long-term needs for development requires thinking about things differently, and creating a new learning strategy – one that’s centered around the learner.

“The first and most important thing is that we are anchoring our talent development strategy to the same strategy we use as a company for everything we do, which is called consumer first,” shared Susie McNamara, Talent Development Leader of General Mills. “So everything that we’re doing, whether we’re trying to meet their short-term needs to ensure that they’re successful in their current role or whether we’re thinking more longer term and ensuring that their development needs more broadly, has the consumer at the center of everything.”

“In re-thinking our strategy, we decided we needed to create an environment that empowered our employees to drive their own development and their careers in a more effective way,” added Plate. “Our learning environment is now learner driven, where employees are able to identify pathways and specific personal development needs, they can consume learning in that timely fashion that best meets their learning style.”

What does putting the learner at the center mean for your software and tools? It means utilizing systems that support natural human behavior like collaboration, ease of use and personal accountability.

“We wanted to inspire our learners and we want our learners to inspire others.  So are allowing learners to start learning groups, to share, to collaborate. But we also needed learners to feel more aligned around our competencies with access to understanding how they can grow those competencies and make connections.”

In both cases, these leaders put learners in the driver’s seat. Want to know more about the Xilinx and General Mills learning strategies? Check out the on-demand webinar, “Let’s Get Digital,” now.

 

 

 

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