From the opening session, which had attendees on their feet and waving their arms, the conference was less than 15 minutes old and it was clear the field of lifelong learning would not ever be the same again.
The evidence of the shift came in three ways:
*Announcements of new LERN online services and benefits for members
Three new services were announced by Vice Presidents Julie Coates and Greg Marsello in the first 15 minutes of the opening session.
*Mobile app and online classrooms
The conference mobile app replaced a proceedings manual for the first time, while online classrooms provided online briefings a week before the conference even began.
*Pioneering new session subjects
Presenters- – some new, some regular LERN presenters – – introduced new subject areas that together converge to pioneer the new era of blended learning for every program in the field.
Even the International Awards luncheon featured programs winning for blended learning and blended marketing.
Together, the new sessions, conference innovations, awards and new services formed the premiere of the new era of blended lifelong learning, not just for LERN, but for all programs in the field.
Three Big Announcements
Coates and Marsello announced three big new online services. Two of the three are FREE.
1. Upgraded LERN Club
One of the most used FREE member services, used by around 70% of members each year, the LERN Club is undergoing a redesign. The new LERN Club will have more features, especially interactive dialogue with members; a better structure and navigation so you can find information more easily; and an updated visual design, look, and feel.
2. New Digital Library
A new Digital Library will offer complete access to any and all paid LERN publications, webinars, slide shows and books in the LERN inventory. For one annual subscription, you and your staff can gain access to all of the paid LERN publications.
The Digital Library will chunk information by subtopic from books and manuals. You can gain easy access to specific chapters, topics and subtopics. The Digital Library will also enable LERN staff and consultants to more easily update information and keep our practical, how-to information current and relevant.
Before the conference was over, we already had our first dozen programs subscribe to the Digital Library.
Another FREE benefit coming your way is our new Dashboard, initiated by Doug Soo and other LERN leaders. The Dashboard will give you the latest statistics on registration trends, cancellation rates, and other key ratios in our business. The Dashboard stats will be automatically and regularly updated.
Mobile App and Online
Introduced at last year’s conference, the LERN conference mobile app made lifelong learning history this year with its new features.
To get CEUs and graduate credit for the conference sessions, attendees used the International Learning Unit standard that LERN has created. Sitting in a chair is no longer the measure of learning at LERN. The new higher standard had attendees take a simple 5 question quiz in order to get CEUs, with an 80% passing rate, the ILU standard.
The quiz function might be the first time in history an outcomes based standard has been used in a conference to validate learning in concurrent one hour sessions.
Three online events were held prior to, and in preparation for, the conference. More than 60 attendees participated in a FREE preconference online event on Mastering the LERN Model. Another online event featured sharing of more information on an award winner. And LERN trained room monitors online for the first time.
Look for more pre-conference online events to extend and deepen your conference experience and learning in the years ahead.
-Slides and sessions online
The conference mobile app added session slides and handouts online for the first time. The online access allowed attendees to download and print their own copy of a session materials. The online access also allowed presenters to update and add new information right up until the conference, eliminating the need for an eight week cut-off date for printing and shipping. LERN will feature more articles on the subject of blended learning in the field of lifelong learning. Stay tuned. The new era of blended lifelong learning has just started.
Photo: LERN conference attendees were on their feet, some on chairs, and waving arms and chanting in response to the energetic opening keynote with Delatorro McNeal.