Addressing the American Educational Research Association in 1994, AERA President Ann Brown described some of the key learning principles that helped shape our understanding of language and thought during the previous 30 years.
In her speech, Brown said, “No one is an island; no one knows it all. Collaborative learning is not just nice, it is necessary for survival. … Learning and teaching depend on creating, sustaining and expanding a community of research practice whose members are critically dependent on each other.”
Her statement not only continues to ring true 20 years later, but also it signifies one of the key linchpins of learning in the digital age. Interdependent learning is not only increasingly accessible, but also increasingly essential.
In business settings, fostering communities of learning or practice plays a crucial role in creating the cooperative synergies and innovation that organizations depend on. Career-focused networks help develop skills, hone competencies, provide thought leadership and create productive relationships.
Most widely accepted descriptions of professional learning communities include shared objectives, interests or issues related to a particular practice or subject matter, as well as creativity and a supportive environment where members can exchange best practices, share experiences, and organize and distribute knowledge.
Beyond these characteristics, Char Booth, an avid library education and technology advocate, insists the most successful learning communities “always seem to create diversity of opportunities — to offer different types of learning experiences as well as avenues for members to create connections between one another and indicate their specializations.”
I believe Chief Learning Officer magazine fits that description. It has become the nexus for a truly effective and dynamic community of learning. I also believe the twice-yearly CLO Symposium is at the heart of this professional hub, offering exactly the kinds of diverse opportunities and learning experiences Booth described, plus a singular chance to create lasting, meaningful, mutually beneficial connections.
At the end of this month we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of this important industry event.
When we created the first Symposium in 2004, our primary goal was to bring industry executives together to meet face-to-face, learn from one another, and advance the awareness and practice of workforce development at a time when the title “chief learning officer” was still relatively new.
Focusing on one of the topics uppermost in every learning executive’s mind at the time, we chose “Managing the Business of Enterprise Learning: Challenges and Opportunities” as a theme. Then we reached out to some of the most active industry thought leaders and practitioners and enlisted their participation. Many of those presenters continue to lead the charge for innovative and effective enterprise education today.
During the past decade, we’ve enriched the Symposium agenda with more interactive sessions and a diverse speaker roster featuring the most creative and interesting voices taking part in today’s larger human capital management conversation. We’ve ventured outside the confines of the industry to help learning executives build business acumen and develop the competencies they need to assume positions of top leadership and drive their organizations forward.
When we convene March 31 to April 2 for the Spring 2014 CLO Symposium, we’re marking this important milestone by returning to the inspiring seaside spot where it all began — The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Calif. But this special celebratory Symposium promises to be so much more than a nod to nostalgia.
Based on the theme “Building Community: Learning’s Most Valuable Influence,” we’ll tackle critical contemporary issues such as learning’s influence on organizational culture as well as forecast what’s ahead for workforce development.
I hope you will join us for this important anniversary as we continue to explore, redefine and refine the key principles of learning and exemplify the concepts of connection and collaboration.