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Interview with an Expert Series: Tracy King

Education is a lifelong passion for Tracy. Throughout her early career she was repeatedly asked to develop and deliver training– so she decided to pursue her masters and become an instructor. Fresh out of graduate school, she realized she was a subject expert but had a lot to learn about learning. Her first day in the classroom she could see before her eyes when her methods succeeded or epically failed. That experience sparked her passion to understand why – and to bring those principles forward in her work.

Tracy has taught communication studies at multiple academic centers to students around the world. She’s worked with corporations and professional associations on education strategy and learning design. She’s a thought leader and invited speaker on workforce development, education strategy, instructional design, and learning technologies. 

1. How long have you been involved with eLearning?

I started experimenting with Blackboard and Moodle when I was teaching communication courses at a St. Paul liberal arts university back in 2000. I created hybrid components for my classroom courses and redesigned the department’s “distance learning” curriculum.

2. How did you get involved with eLearning?

When I started teaching the online course for our communication department, it was a combination of digital content and correspondence. The university mailed (snail mailed!) learning materials to each student that were supplemented with online content. Students submitted some of their work online and mailed (snail mailed!) VHS tapes of their recorded speeches for the semester. So much has changed! LMS systems are now lightyears more sophisticated opening up incredible new opportunities to collaborate digitally.

I transitioned from academia to association education. I was charged with developing an eLearning portfolio at the American Academy of Neurology. We architected several learning formats that we designed proprietary software to support. It was a pure privilege to work with neurologists who are as curious as I am about the learning brain. Together we created amazing continuing medical education that continues to reach an international audience. My passion for meaningful eLearning was cemented during those years of championing visionary digital learning ideas to execution. 

3. What are some of the most common questions you get about eLearning?

The two things that typically surprise clients are how much time quality eLearning takes to build and how much that costs. An effective user experience is effortless – the navigation doesn’t get in the way of the learning. This can lead to a false conclusion that it’s easy to create and cheap to make. If the UX is amazing, it’s typically quite opposite! Organizations must not only invest in the appropriate tools to facilitate the learning outcomes they intend, but hire qualified learning designers and developers who can produce meaningful eLearning. Impactful and revenue generating eLearning is so much more than uploading info-based content assets into online repositories.

4. What are the common mistakes you see people making?

I see several common mistakes:

  • Assuming technology/tools will create engagement
  • Creating a repository of conference session video recordings that were not produced to be eLearning
  • Relying on subject experts to design their eLearning courses without the support of an instructional design partner
  • Treating eLearning like a one-off event (such as a conference or in-person course) vs. a learning pathway
  • Delivering information, not learning, through eLearning formats
  • Failing to measure whether learning happens

5. Is there anything new or revolutionary in eLearning that you’re seeing that people should be aware of?

I love what I’m seeing with branched video, scenario-based learning, and digital collaboration. These formats are pushing beyond knowledged based checkpoints to meaningful formative assessment and skill development.

6. What trends do you expect to see in the coming year(s)?

Those who remain relevant in continuing education will embrace competency development. Information is ubiquitous. Just delivering fire hose info based programming will not win the loyalty of our target audiences. The new value proposition is transformation. Industry professionals are pressured to learn continuously. Organizations who offer the change these learners seek will stand apart from the competition. Well crafted elearning is your greatest advantage for being at the right place at the right time for learners when they need to develop the next level of mastery.

Another significant trend I’m seeing is powerful partnerships. Corporations and academic institutions are forging partnerships around workforce development. Corporations want outcomes-based leadership development, employee training and pipeline development. Academic institutions bring their high caliber faculty and learning expertise. I’m watching how this unfolds closely because of the significant disruptions it could bring to the training industry and association professional development.

 7. How will these trends impact organizations?

Organizations that commit to competency-based learning will need to embrace fundamental shifts in how they fund, staff and deliver learning programs. I’ve developed a tool called the Education Enterprise Scorecard that I use to help organizations strategically navigate these changes. Often professional associations have most of the key ingredients to make this important transition happen; they are just stuck in the rut of how things have always been done. Many corporations are in the process of navigating this shift – and partnerships with academic institutions is a signal of that. They realize that training time does not necessarily lead to measurable results that impact their business goals. And they know that investing in a highly skilled workforce results in greater employee engagement.

8. What are your Top 3 eLearning Tips to share with the audience?

  1. Hire qualified instructional designers.
  2. Invest in the technology and tools that assist in meeting your learning outcomes.
  3. Recognize that learning is a process. Facilitate transformation by designing learning pathways with measurable outcomes.

 

To learn more about Tracy and the services she offers, visit her website.

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