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Elliott Masie's 30 Under 30: Interview with Ben Alisuag

Seventh in our series of 30 Under 30 interviews is Ben Alisuag, Program Manager at NovoEd.

Unfamiliar with learning’s 30 Under 30? That’s ok! It’s an annual program put on by Elliott Masie at Learning 2015 conference. “The goal of the 30 Under 30 @ Learning 2015 Program is to provide support, visibility, voice and development for the next generation of Learning Leaders.” Read on to learn more about industry insights from an up and coming learning leader!Name: Ben Alisuag

Maestro: Tell me a little bit about your company and your role within it.

Ben: NovoEd offers a complete solution for trainers and educators to design, build, launch, and manage engaging online learning experiences. The cornerstone of the solution is a collaborative learning platform for online training. In my role as a program manager, I help universities and corporations launch online courses—everything from designing learning materials to managing video production. Most recently, I served as the instructional designer for a project with Philanthropy University, where I helped design and run 7 MOOCs in nonprofit management for more than 200K students.

Maestro: Tell me about some of the things you are doing to stay current in the world of learning.

Ben: I think that best thing one can do to stay current in any field is to join or form a community of people with similar interests. Recently, I joined a monthly gathering of education enthusiasts, and I’ve already benefited greatly from the heightened passion of the members. For example, we spent hours discussing the importance of inclusive curriculums, and then outlined ways to improve our own designs.

At NovoEd, we also employ this idea of a community of practice. Once a week, our instructional design team workshops a specific component of learning, and we challenge ourselves to give feedback that is supported with evidence from one of our own courses, or from published research. We regularly leave these meetings with immediately actionable items to elevate the pedagogy of our courses.

Maestro: What challenges do you see for the next generation of learning leaders – people like you?

Ben: In the field of learning, we’ve spent the last few years dealing with issues of reach and accessibility. During that time, it was exciting to simply be exposed to online courses (think MOOCS that were only previously available in person or in print. Now that the excitement is over, we need to focus on how to continue individual enthusiasm in online modes of learning. Game designers call this fiero—the most primal rush we can experience—so our task, as instructional designers, is to figure out how to develop this “primal rush” in all of our learners.

Maestro: What excites you about the future of learning?

Ben: I’m most excited about seeing if learning will be able to match the ubiquity of technology. We have endless devices and apps for our day-to-day activities, but can we embed that same connection to our learning experiences?

Maestro: What advice do you have for companies struggling to keep up with the changing landscape of learning?

Ben: I have two pieces of advice for companies: 1) reflect, and 2) create regular opportunities to experiment. With regards to reflection, it’s important that we don’t blindly follow the latest trends in learning. Learning is hugely personal, so we have to ensure that we adequately diagnose a situation before we employ a new approach, design, or idea. Having low-stakes opportunities to test these ideas is crucial. An easy way to do this is to find a small group of participants who’ll pilot your new course.

Want to learn more from Ben? Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter - or catch up on one of his recent blog post for NovoEd!

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