Back to the Future with Ellen Wagner

Instructional Design, Professional Development


One of the highlights of the Sloan-C Emerging Technologies Conference was the keynote by Ellen Wagner. She pointed out the gaps we need to mind – the space between innovation and implementation, research and practice, traditional e-learning and emerging e-learning – if we are to meet the challenge of educating the next generation. With a breadth of experience and a little humor as well, she walked the audience through the history of e-learning, and showed us how far we still have to travel.

Her talk resonated with me because while she touched on the big picture issues, they parallel the day-to-day tensions instructional designers often struggle with. When developing courses, I feel like my job is to triangulate where faculty and students are to find that comfortable sweet spot where meaningful learning can happen. That spot is both the goal and the gap I need to mind.

There’s more to unpack here, but I’m still on west coast time so it’s too early in the morning for me:)  I’ll leave you with Ellen’s Big Questions for Learning Professionals:

  • How do we prepare learners for jobs and technologies that don’t exist yet?
  • How do we help prepare a workforce for a world where they will need to solve problems we don’t even know about?
  • How do we prepare ourselves to edit/modify/delete much of what we have learned about our own professional practices?
  • How do we capture and extend learning experience so that is it meaningful in the context of our augmented digital lives?
  • How to we move beyond the fascination with the latest and greatest and focus on sustainable innovation?