Designing Learning 2011 is a highly collaborative process - involving our team at The MASIE Center and over 150 faculty members. For the past five months, my role has been to help focus, refine and learn from this exciting team as we have crafted themes and drafted over 240 sessions for your learning choices.
Now, my role evolves to "final tuner" as we get ready to publish the Program Guide in about 10 days (and send it off to the printer and App developer). So, I have headed to the mountains, literally, to get away for a weekend of solitude and reflection to put the final touches on the program - a very important - quiet Design Retreat!
Sitting in my Adirondack Mountain cabin, 90 miles into the woods, but with a new broadband connection, here are some of the Design Tasks that I am doing while looking out the window at the trees turning fall colors:
- What's Missing: While you would think that 240 sessions would pretty much cover the gambit - as I looked at the "gestalt" of the program - a few topics need adding, like: "Usability/User Experience" So, on Monday, we will add a few last sessions.
- Flow & De-Conflicting: There is never a way to avoid tough choices for our participants - with so many interesting sessions and presenters. But, this weekend I have been obsessing on ways to tweak the schedule to create the best flow. And, some topics are great for the start of the event and others seem more appropriate for later on in the schedule.
- Title Adjusting: Some sessions are great on content but may not have a lot of participants based on the title. I've been red-penciling a few jargon phrases and making sure that the title does justice to the content and design of each session.
- Elliott's Session Design & Writing: I will be leading 3 sessions myself at Learning 2011. I wait until we have the entire program done to write the content for these sessions - to fill any content gaps and to add some framework for themes that have emerged during the design process. Watch for one session on the "Connected Learner" and another that will take a fresh look at Gaming, Gamification and Learning Design.
Could I have done this process at my desk in Saratoga? Perhaps, but some tasks take a degree of reflection, introspection and isolation. Sometimes, it is important to step back and imagine how the program would feel to a first time participant - as well as a senior CLO who has been many years. For me, I find that taking a DESIGN RETREAT to a place of low distraction is essential.
The cool thing is that our team is so good at what they do, that I am really only adding a few pieces of relish and garnish to a very well designed learning "plate". But, it is key for a DESIGN that` has come from a team to have an "Executive Chef" that does the final inspection, tasting and mini-adjustments - the last step in creating the sessions for Learning 2011 in just 43 days.