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Elliott Masie’s 30 Under Thirty: Interview with Dan Jackson

Last November, Maestro had the pleasure of speaking at the Learning 2013 Conference in Orlando. If you had the opportunity to attend, too, you might already be aware of Elliott Masie’s 30 Under Thirty list, honoring the next generation of leaders in the world of learning. We were so inspired by the talent and accomplishments of this group that we wanted to get to know the honorees. We’re excited to share with you over the next several weeks their glimpses into the future of learning. We hope to start a dialogue with them and with you about how we can all help take training and development to a whole new level.

First in our series of 30 Under Thirty interviews is Dan Jackson, Learning and Talent Development Consultant with the Federal Practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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

Dan: I work closely with government clients to provide them with learning solutions.  For example, I am currently on a project at a Federal financial services organization.  We designed a corporate university for them and within that, my role is to design, develop, and deliver a number of instructor-led and computer-based training courses.  I’m sort of the resident Adobe Captivate expert (a Capti-geek, if you will), so I’ve spent a lot of time managing the full lifecycles of the computer-based training courses.

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

Dan: There are a few things I do to stay current in the world of learning.  First, I’m actually wrapping up a graduate certificate in e-Learning and Instructional Design this semester.  This has allowed me to interact with other learning professionals, which is invaluable when it comes to staying current.  I’m also on the communications team for a Federal Learning Solutions community of practice at Deloitte.  My main role there is to help write the monthly newsletter, which allows me to research current trends and write about them.  Lastly, I try to never get complacent.  I think the world of learning is moving rapidly towards technology, so I try to pick up new technical skills along the way and always put myself in a position to learn.

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

Dan: I think the biggest challenge for the next generation of learning leaders is people’s waning attention span.  In the past, if you wanted to learn to play guitar, you had to go to someone’s house or to a music store and take lessons.  Now, you can go on YouTube and learn a few chords in minutes.  The next generation of learning leaders needs to adapt to this and potentially change the approach.  Maybe instead of an hour-long instructor-led training session during the work day, you develop a series of 3-minute mobile challenges that someone can complete on the train to and from work.  And maybe there’s a live leaderboard that stacks your results against your colleagues – the possibilities are endless and the new learning leader will need to be open to the unknown.

Maestro: What excites you about the future of learning?

Dan: There’s a lot to be excited about.  There are some really creative people emerging in the learning industry, and a lot is changing.  I think the future of learning is in technology, and specifically, gaming.  There will always be a place for traditional training courses, but there’s just so much you can do inside a game.  And we’re currently at such a technological high point that the possibilities are truly endless.  I think back to when I started playing video games as a kid on an original Nintendo compared to the video games you can get now.  Everything is more complex, more realistic, and more engaging, and this can only be seen as a benefit if the learning industry can adapt.

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

Dan: Stop trying to keep up!  Seriously!  Every company is different and a good learning professional is able to read the training audience and determine the most effective training plan for that audience.  They should, however, always try to move forward.  So maybe they don’t jump straight from participant guides and job aids to a video game, but perhaps the next iteration of the training has a computer-based training assessment, and then maybe in the next iteration there’s a mobile scavenger hunt component, and so on and so forth.  Change doesn’t happen overnight and ultimately it is much more important to know your audience than to try to stay aligned with an ever-changing industry.  Just continue to make progress and improve.

Interested in learning more about Dan? Connect on LinkedIn

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