Why we care about being a “Best Place to Work”

Vivayic was just named as one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Places to Work 2017 and we’re not going to lie: we’re proud of this one. Why?

  1. This is part of our purpose for existing.

Vivayic’s purpose is to build other’s capacity to do good in the world. This purpose drives the partnerships we develop with our clients and shows up in our learning solutions, but it also means we invest in our own people. Our teammates do amazing things to build other people’s capacity – both as part of their role with Vivayic and in their communities. We invest in cultivating their talents and passions to help build their capacity to do even more good in this world.

  1. We love our teammates and want them to love working with us.

One of our business mentors, Tom Walter of Tasty Catering, taught us that it’s okay to talk about love in the workplace and we ran with it. We love our teammates. We know their spouses, their kids, what’s going on in their community, and what they aspire to do and be. And, when you love people you want them to be fulfilled and engaged in their calling as a vocation. While that’s not a great business metric; it’s a great “living a good and full life” metric.

  1. Happy teammates = happy clients = sustained growth

The funny thing about caring about people is that they, in turn, care a whole lot about what they do and who they do it for. Vivayic made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing small businesses in 2016 and will likely again this year. Coincidence? We don’t think so, either.

  1. We work hard at this

Creating great culture, especially in a virtual working environment, doesn’t just happen. We connected with the Small Giants Community five years ago and have learned from some of the country’s most outstanding business leaders. The most important lesson: make being a great place to work a priority and work on it every day.

 

Official Announcement: https://www.inc.com/profile/vivayic

Vivayic Makes the Inc. Magazine Inc. 5000 List (and Celebrates for All of Two Minutes)

Today, Inc. Magazine released it’s 2016 Inc. 5000 list and Vivayic ranks No. 2934 on the list with Three-Year Sales Growth of 117.2%. Doug, my fellow co-founder, and I shared the news with our team on a bi-weekly call last Monday. We celebrated for all of two minutes and then went back to the work of helping our clients be really successful. Why only two minutes?

1. Growth is a Lagging Indicator for Us

Revenue increase of 117% in three years is a really big deal especially since we’re not really a start-up anymore. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary in October, so it’s not like we captured lighting in a bottle out of the box. This growth was the results of a lot of years toiling away at our craft and dutifully doing the right thing for our clients.

We’ve never set a goal for growth. Never. And, as long as Doug and I are running the company (and hopefully beyond) Vivayic never will. Growth (e.g. increased sales) is a result of doing all the right things and we knew two years ago that we were starting to get to a place where clients were trusting us with larger and larger projects and they were referring us to others.

We didn’t predict this size of growth, but we’ve known for a while that we had a tremendous team, a phenomenal culture, and an approach that was earning reputation day-by-day. When we looked at the numbers last year, we knew we would make the list. We applied as a means to acknowledge the great work of our team. Team: this is all about you and what you do day in and day out to make us successful. Congratulations!

 2. We Celebrate How We Earned Our Growth – Not the Amount of It

Doug and I weren’t born into families of entrepreneurs and didn’t study business; we grew up on a ranch and farm, respectively, and are teachers by training. So, we’ve had to learn a lot about being and running a company in 10 years.

One lesson we learned early when networking with other entrepreneurs is that not all revenue growth is the same. Some have revenues without profits, which is okay as they are aiming to be acquired and enjoy the payout of selling their company. Others increase revenues by buying other companies with a strategy to get big enough to maintain a sustainable market position. We don’t have the stomach for that kind of debt and really don’t want to give any control of our company and our team to an external investor.

Our revenue is the old-fashioned kind: sales earned by bootstrapping on our own dime while working to earn the trust of clients. Our 117% increase isn’t driven by marketing (you’d laugh at how little we spend in that area) or by adding someone else’s sales total to ours. We earned our revenue growth through trust and performance – time and time again. Old school? You bet. Tiring? Yes. But, much like the hard work of our childhood and the unsung efforts of teaching, there is a deep satisfaction with seeing the fruits of your labor.

 3. There are Other Accolades We Are Striving to Earn

One of our business mentors explained that they applied for company awards not out of ego, but because it reinforces to the employees that their contribution made the company as great as it was. That was a huge paradigm shift for us. If you know Doug and me, you know that we nearly run from any opportunity for self-promotion. His advice got us thinking about which awards and accolades would reflect the values and purpose of Vivayic. We’re just starting to put that list together and work to make it happen. We’d love to have our team recognized for the quality of work they do, for their compassion and generosity to others, for the efforts they make to ensure Vivayic continues to be a wonderful place to hang out every day.

So, we’ll apply for the Inc. 5000 as long our numbers will likely qualify us for the list, but this growth won’t last more than a few years. And hopefully, we’ll have other opportunities to acknowledge the great team of people who have chosen to join the adventure that is Vivayic.

 

2015 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Awards for Learning and Development, Talent Management, and Sales and Marketing Awards

The 2015 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Awards for Learning and Development, Talent Management, and Sales and Marketing Awards

Dow AgroSciences Wins Gold & Silver

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – 10/1/2015

Dow AgroSciences, a leader in crop protection and plant biotechnology, won a coveted Brandon Hall Group gold award for excellence in the Best Program for Sales Training and Performance category and a silver award for Best Use of Blended Learning.   Dow AgroSciences’, wins were announced on 9/10/2015. The winners are listed at http://go.brandonhall.com/past_award_winners.

Dow AgroSciences, along with their learning partner, Vivayic, created the Seed Advisor Curriculum, a five-course experience designed to equip seed salespersons to confidently discuss basic agronomic concepts and Dow AgroSciences seed product development processes with customers.  The five courses focus on applying basic concepts related to seed selection, breeding, production, conditioning and quality.  Learning experiences were delivered via a variety of mediums, to include: iBooks, interactive PDFs, eLearning, and instructor-led sessions.

“We are thrilled to receive these honors in conjunction with Vivayic.  The strong partnership between Dow AgroSciences and Vivayic enabled the development of unique learning tool that fit the needs of our employees.   This recognition continues to validate the quality of Seed Advisor Curriculum as a learning tool and will help to create awareness of our ag technical learning program,” stated Stephen Smith, Dow AgroSciences Global Technology Transfer Leader.

“The high quality of work and commitment to driving business results among our award winners never fails to amaze me,” said Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer of Brandon Hall Group and head of the awards program. “All of these winning programs deliver meaningful business results to their organizations. Winning an Excellence Award is a great honor, but the real winners are the organizations themselves and their customers and clients because of the innovation and customer focus they demonstrate.”

Excellence Awards winners will be honored at Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Conference January 27-29, 2016, at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Selected winners also will serve as presenters in the more than 20 breakout sessions during the 2½-day conference.

The entries were evaluated by a panel of veteran, independent senior industry experts, Brandon Hall Group Sr. Analysts and Executive Leadership based upon the following criteria: fit the need, design of the program, functionality, innovation, and overall measureable benefits.

 

About Dow AgroSciences

Dow AgroSciences discovers, develops, and brings to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $7.3 billion in 2014. Learn more at www.dowagro.com. Follow Dow AgroSciences on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

 

About Brandon Hall Group
Brandon Hall Group is a HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights around key performance areas, including Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management.

With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering world-class research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is focused on developing research that drives performance in emerging and large organizations, and provides strategic insights for executives and practitioners responsible for growth and business results. (www.brandonhall.com)

 

About Vivayic

Vivayic is a learning solutions design firm specializing in the transfer of agricultural sciences and technology knowledge and skills. Vivayic strives to add value to organizations through exceptional learning design and knowledge transfer experiences. Services include learning strategy and analysis, curriculum and program design, and eLearning and content delivery. Learn more at www.vivayic.com.

Building our Small Giant

Vivayic leaders venture to a conference of values

Vivayic is a company that chooses to be Great instead of Big. A big part of our motivation for this revolves around the Small Giants philosophy.

This philosophy is more than just that – it’s a community – and it is founded upon the operating principles in Bo Burlingham’s book, Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big. At their annual conference, a small group of like-minded business owners whom, like Vivayic, want their values to show up in every facet of our business, get together to share best practices and discuss current issues.

Seth, Carrie, Emily, and Doug at the Welcome Reception overlooking the Chicago skyline. Photo via Small Giants Facebook

Seth, Carrie, Emily, and Doug at the Welcome Reception overlooking the Chicago skyline. Photo via Small Giants Facebook

 We recently returned from the Small Giants Summit and are excitedly implementing what we learned. The Small Giants mission and vision align well with our business and personal beliefs. All attendees believe in and run their business based on six themes from the Small Giants book. Members of this group focus on as much, if not more, on being great places to work (and to work with) as opposed to rapid business growth and expansion. It’s reaffirmed our belief in hiring good people.

 As a result of the conference, we realized that we can do better as leaders if we start our team interactions by revisiting our vision, values, strategic goals and operating principles. If we’re all on the same page, our daily efforts and interactions with each other and our clients will be more clearly aligned with these guiding philosophies.

 We did more than gain a renewed belief in staying true to our culture, we learned from each other. It’s important, especially as business owners, to build a network of peers and mentors that have similar experiences and challenges in building a small business, while focusing on values-based leadership. At this conference, we did just that. We gathered ideas, brainstormed with others and learned what’s worked and what hasn’t in their small businesses. Now, we can apply each of those small lessons at Vivayic.

 And we’re definitely on the right track to building our small giant of a company. We have documented our values, vision and strategic goals, and we strive to follow them every day. As with any company – large or small – these are ever-evolving.

Part of the journey will always be leading our team toward full alignment between these three cornerstones – values, vision and strategic goals – that guide our work and interactions with each other.

Game-Based Learning Case Study: National Pork Board Q+A

Q+A with Vivayic’s Seth Derner and Cara White

Q: Why does Vivayic use the game-based approach?

SD: The National Pork Board asked us to partner with them on reimagining how youth could be reached with their Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus program (Youth PQA). It is the food safety, antibiotic use, and animal well-being awareness and education program for youth pork producers ages 8 to 19. Youth PQA had been delivered as an instructor-led session with a slide deck and suggestions for a few activities. That model still works, but they also wanted to give youth a chance to engage with the program online to increase the reach and ease of access for youth and families. The program, when delivered as a workshop, can take up to two hours. We couldn’t reduce the learning objectives, but we knew that a traditional elearning course wasn’t feasible – few adults would have that kind of attention span, let alone a child. What can hold the attention of a 12 year old for 2 hours? Games. We took Pork Board the idea, they signed off, and we started building. The results are pretty cool.

CW: It’s innovative, it’s new, and it’s what youth like to do! The National Pork Board was looking for a way for youth to get certified in the Youth PQA in an online setting rather than face-to-face. Using a game-based approach was a great way to reinforce what youth learned from reading the Youth PQA manual.

Q: What are the benefits of this approach?

CW: This is a particularly effective learning tool for youth. Any time we can incorporate technology into learning, youth are going be excited about it! Additionally, a game-based approach can serve as a stand-alone learning tool, an application piece, a review or an individual assessment.

SD: Games have built-in mechanisms to hold our attention: challenge, chance, achievement, instant feedback and novelty. They work especially well for youth who are more accustomed to learning through games. A game-based approach worked well for this program because there are 10 areas, and each area has a variety of content and skills. That’s a lot of information – breaking it up into a series of different games helped create more engaging and appropriate learning experiences for each part of the program. And, the great thing about games is that you can design them to let users play them over and over again until they “win.” That was perfect for this situation as some concepts and skills can be difficult for the younger learners, and we wanted to make sure they knew their stuff before moving on. Kids voluntarily reviewing their understanding – that’s good stuff.

Q: What considerations did you have to take into account?

SD: Using games isn’t without its challenges. First, designing game experiences takes considerably more creativity and effort than typical learning programs. You have to ensure that the level of challenge is appropriate for the learner, that the game play is compelling and fun, that the game play and scoring function properly, and a whole host of other things. Another consideration is that it’s much easier to use games to help review and apply knowledge and skills than it is to help learners acquire new knowledge and skills. Because of the scope of content in this program, we still relied on learners reading through the handbook to acquire understanding. They could try the games before reading, and we hope they did so that it would help them identify the critical information to look for in the handbook material.

A third consideration is the technology platforms your learners will use to access the games; screen size, type of device and operating system and internet connectivity are important drivers in planning game design. Finally, there is the “so what…” issue – so what happens when a user achieves a perfect score or reaches the top level? We chose to not use scores and achievements as external motivators for Youth PQA. It’s like the show “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” where the points don’t really matter. For some users that may be frustrating, but if you don’t have a clear objective in using scores for other purposes, we think it’s best to keep the games fun and low-stakes.

CW: In this particular case, we had to take three age levels into consideration. We did end up creating two modules, one for the youngest level and the other for the upper levels. We spent a considerable amount of time designing the game play, considering the flow of the module as a whole, scoring and really putting ourselves in the shoes of the users. We wanted to create something a young person would want to sit down and play, while also learning in order to pass the certification test.

Q: How have users responded to it?

CW: We’ve heard very positive feedback from the individual in charge of the certification and trainings at the National Pork Board.

SD: After the initial build of all of the Youth PQA games, we tested them with the target audience of 8- to 19-year-old youth. We received great feedback on what was fun, what was confusing and what just wouldn’t work. That helped us refine ideas and build better versions. Since the client had released it, we’ve heard they’ve had a really positive response. Many educators are using the games as supplemental activities to add engagement in their instructor-led sessions. That’s the great thing about good design – it’s flexible to meet the needs of people in the real world. It’s nice when projects turn out like you hope.

Q: How did you find out about this approach?

SD: We invest a lot of time and money getting our team out to a variety of conferences, shows and forums where new ideas and approaches are talked about. We saw examples of game-based elearning some time ago. We like to be early adopters and bring our clients insight into what’s new, different or creative, but we also balance that with knowing there’s evidence that something works. That’s what clients should expect from a group like us – to bring them industry-leading expertise and insights so they don’t have to invest in that level of research themselves. The Pork Board, for example, doesn’t need staff to attend the Learning Solutions conference every year, for example, but they should expect that we do and will bring back new ideas and approaches to help them accomplish their organizational objectives.

CW: We learned in the early stages of this project that the National Pork Board was looking for something like this – a game-like tool that youth could complete in order to receive their certification online.

Q: What is the importance of using this and other learning approaches to meet your client’s goals?

CW: First and foremost, we at Vivayic pride ourselves on really listening to the client and creating a personalized approached to fit their specific needs. The work we’ve done for the Youth PQA project will serve as a great model for other projects, for both youth and adult learners. The team members in charge of developing the actual game play did a phenomenal job and learned so much about Storyline, a type of elearning software, and its capacity for game-based solutions.

SD: It’s important for people to remember that game-based learning isn’t a silver bullet solution. We think it can have really useful application, but it can also be misused and overused. It’s a great strategy to have in the toolbox, but like all tools, craftsmanship is required to know when and how to use them.

“Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” -Chinese proverb 

Performance Support Symposium 2014

In the learning solutions world, constant education is important for those designing curriculum, too.

Vivayic and its employees understand that and attend many conferences throughout the year. Vivayic team member Craig Rebich attended the Performance Support Symposium last month in Boston, MA. Here are his thoughts after the event.

Performance Support – Craig Rebich

My personal life motto is, “Do something everyday to make yourself better.” This motto carries over into my work as well.

As a Vivayic team, we read and continue to learn, but learning is both science and an art. At conferences like the Performance Support Symposium, we take science and blend it with art. We use these experiences to make ourselves better at the work we do.

In the learning solutions world, performance support is the creation and use of a system that allows individuals to get their job tasks complete within the workflow. This system focuses on workflow, rather than the workers. One of the most difficult aspects of using it is finding the appropriate balance between performance support and training.

This conference gave me the chance to explore performance support and the organizational strategies proven to reduce training time, as well as focus on the importance of content in the right context because that is where learning truly occurs.

 A big highlight for me was learning more about the five moments of learning need, which are the times in which a worker requires information in order to accomplish the task at hand, and how they are relevant to designing solutions. These five moments of learning need are the basis for the performance support system. It’s not so much a teaching technique as it is understanding how and when learning occurs so you can design a solution that accommodates these needs.

Looking back, my favorite part of the symposium was learning about initiatives in different industries and networking. I’m always amazed at the ideas generated when people with a good knowledge base about a specific topic have lunch together.

Armed with the knowledge gained at this conference, I think differently about the solutions we implement. I know that when designing a solution, we need to consider performance support as a way to both enhance human performance and to save organizations money.

I will now look at our client’s problems from a more holistic perspective. Vivayic’s goal is to be a partner with our clients and to help solve their problems. Essentially, the knowledge I gained at this conference will allow us to find even better solutions for our clients.

Kansas City here we come – 2014 Summer Meeting

Bringing Power & Light to Our July Vivayic Team Meeting

In our virtual office setting, it’s important for our team to come together and connect, whether it’s professionally or personally. Through quarterly team meetings, we do just that.

Not only do these meetings help us see all the ways we are helping clients, but they also allow us to teach, as well as learn from, one another. Of course, we spend a lot of time sharing knowledge with each other during these meetings, but we also leave time for socializing and getting to know each other better.

July’s team meeting found us in Kansas City, Missouri, which was special because several of our team members (Doug, Emily, Miranda) grew up in Missouri and others have spent time there (Cara). Our team loved being able to share some fun facts about Missouri and the different connections members of the team have to the state, too. Who knew Chillicothe, Missouri, Miranda’s birthplace, was also the home of sliced bread?

We all know now.

Stationed in Hilton President hotel, we shared completed projects and lessons learned with each other. It’s a great way for us to all stay on the forefront of new technologies or learning methods and tools. We know we have a talented team, but it is energizing when we get to actually see what other teammates are doing and the awesome services we are providing our clients. We believe it’s important to always share our knowledge and learn from each other, and not just at these meetings.

Lora-Doug

Beyond that, we also talked about progress on our 2nd quarter goals and shared our upcoming 3rd quarter goals. To further our strategic efforts, we broke into account management teams and brainstormed strategies for not only the upcoming 4th quarter, but also into 2015.

The bulk of our meetings centered around a fun, happening area in Kansas City called the Power & Light District. Socially, we enjoyed dinner at a couple restaurants in the area, and as a team-building exercise, we took a private grilling class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. With amazing chef teachers who guided our grilling, the whole team had a really fun time hanging out, cooking and enjoying a delicious meal.

We ended the meeting on a high note with our friends from Field of Hope. They shared pictures and stories from when they taught the curriculum we wrote for them as a part of our Vivayic Cares initiatives. We also discussed our future partnership with them. It was great to hear from Field of Hope and see the impact our curriculum had on their program and their work with the folks in Uganda.

These meetings always energize the team and get us motivated to create more innovative learning solutions. We connected with teammates, shared cool ideas and started to look at strategic plans for next year. We’re so excited for what 2015 has to offer and thankful for how incredibly blessed we are to work for Vivayic – a team that truly cares not only about each other, but also about our clients.

Field of Hope: Cultivating a Country of Farmers

Vivayic Cares’ first partnership is about more than learning

To those who have been given much, much is expected.

Vivayic exists to help others – whether in a corporate office or a third world country. Through our giving program, Vivayic Cares, we do just that.

An important part of that program is our partnership with Field of Hope (FoH). Field of Hope is dedicated to helping Ugandan farmers not only grow their own food but also understand how to store and sell their products to provide money for their families. As a team, we spent the last few months donating our time and specialized skills to develop a 200-level production agriculture curriculum to support the Field of Hope organization.

Field of Hope April 2014

Basic knowledge that we take for granted – like storing and irrigating crops and understanding supply and demand – are not common knowledge in Uganda. This life-giving curriculum trains people in Uganda to become self-sufficient and profitable through tractor ownership and farming.

This was not just a “good idea” or an exciting outreach effort. This was about empowering people who are in desperate need of good agricultural practices right now, so that they can feed their families.

Our partnership with FoH was born in August 2013 when the group shared their mission with us during our August 2013 meeting in Minnesota. Our whole team was immediately excited about the chance to contribute to outreach in developing countries. 21 questions game We saw this collaboration as a perfect fit not only because of our learning solutions, but also because of our backgrounds in agriculture, whether it was growing up on a farm, majoring in agriculture, living on a farm, or working with our clients in the agriculture industry.

Our relationship with FoH employees, especially Mike Hafner and Brandy Young, was a great fit right from the start. Mike, FoH president, said that he felt the same way.

“Vivayic is an organization that not only knows the content but also knows how it should be presented so that it will impact the lives of the farmers meaningfully,” he said. “I feel very blessed and grateful for all Vivayic has done for Field of Hope, especially all they have done for the farmers with whom we work.”

Brandy, FoH co-founder, feels humbled and grateful to have found the perfect partner in Vivayic.

“We were just looking to hire a company to develop training,” she said. “Instead we found a partner.”

Vivayic feels the same way. The work the FoH team is doing on the ground is inspiring. We are blessed to be part of it and the impact it has on the everyday life of an Ugandan farmer. Through this partnership, we are teaching the farmers to fish for a lifetime, not giving them fish for a meal.

There’s something about being brought back to the very basic field-to-plate concept. If crops fail, people go hungry.

While creating the lessons, time was at the front of everyone’s minds. We wanted to maximize every minute of time these farmers spent in training to increase their likelihood for success. Being efficient and effective is always important, but it took on extra significance for this project.

Like all projects, we were focused on the end user. We put quite a bit of thought into who would be taking these courses and what their daily life and experiences were so we could present things in a way that would be most relevant to them.

It was a humbling experience. We had to try and put ourselves into their shoes, which was a tough task given the many blessings we enjoy daily.

This project just reinforces that Vivayic is a company that truly does give back. We did this project as a service project, without pay, and everyone on the team was so into it. Of course, we gained much as a result – in ways that are hard to measure.

Our hearts warmed knowing we truly helped cultivate their knowledge and empowered them to improve their lives. We were rewarded with the learners’ excitement. The Ugandan farmers’ appreciation and thankfulness affected us deeply. We’ve cried tears of joy and gratitude and understanding.

We’ve been pulled in the direction of giving more and plan to continue to be partners in this journey with FoH. The FoH group presented our curriculum in April 2014 in Uganda with 25 participants, most of whom participated in the 100-level training.

And we want to continue to support their efforts – whether it’s creating a 300-level training, or developing a “train-the-trainer” program where the participants learn the materials so they can share it with their neighbors/friends. The goal is to help them understand how to best operate their farm.

The Field of Hope project was the first Vivayic Cares project that we worked on as a team, but it won’t be our last. We’re looking forward to continuing to help with this project and build upon the strong foundation we have created.

“The Vivayic team has a heart to serve and bless others,” Mike said. “They have accepted us as a part of their team, and these wonderful people have become our friends.”

Learning Solutions 2014

In the learning solutions world, constant education is important for those designing curriculum, too.

Vivayic and its employees understand that and attend many conferences throughout the year. Vivayic team member Jessica Travis attended the Learning Solutions conference, co-located with the Ecosystem conference earlier this year. Here’s her thoughts after the event.

Learning Solutions ConferenceJessica Travis

Wow – what an exhilarating educational experience!  At the Learning Solutions conference, we learned about all aspects of eLearning and what’s currently happening out in the eLearning world. From project management to mobile learning, from graphic design and eLearning games to the fundamentals of learning theory, this conference covers it all.

Not only does it have a variety of topics, but it also includes opportunities to see examples of high quality work from people in the field during a session called SolutionFest. This year was a special one because a Vivayic project was accepted for the event.

Solutions Fest

Doug, the client and I spent two hours talking to people about our project design. It was just super exciting to talk to people about what we do, especially when they were so positive about it. SolutionFest was awesome – not only because of our participation but also because it’s fun to check out the other projects and see what our peers are doing to generate new ideas.

Outside of SolutionFest, one of my favorite sessions was about writing better eLearning scripts. It provided practical information and a reminder to bring even the most complicated content down to a personal level so that the learner has the best possible experience. Whenever I can, I try to use a conversational tone in script writing for eLearning courses, and that session put that into perspective and reminded me of the different approaches that can be taken to achieve that style.

The best part about any type of conference is taking home the information and the energy gained at the event and applying it to my everyday work. Last year I focused on learning more about graphic design and how to use Storyline. This year I focused more on project management and expanding my knowledge of general eLearning design.

I absolutely love attending this conference. It is so refreshing and motivational to be at a meeting full of professionals who do what I do and understand what I do. The framework of the event makes it easy to exchange ideas, stay current on the latest trends in eLearning and on a personal level, to continue learning new tricks of the trade to improve myself as a learning solutions designer.

I believe that one of the most important things I can do is be a constant learner because anything new that I learn will help me continue to grow, and in turn, do great work for our clients. Just like bread – after a while, people can get stale, too. Conferences help you stay fresh!

Ecosystem 2014 – The Learning Infrastructure and Strategies Conference

In the learning solutions world, constant education is important for those designing curriculum, too.

Vivayic and its employees understand that and attend many conferences throughout the year. Vivayic co-founders Doug Kueker and Seth Derner attended the Ecosystem conference, co-located with the Learning Solutions conference earlier this year. Here’s their thoughts after the event.

Ecosystem Conference – Doug Kueker and Seth Derner

ec·o·sys·tem [ek-oh-sis-tuhm] – a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment; or in general use, a complex network or interconnected system.

Ecosystem – that’s a great word for education and for the eLearning world. We had the chance to dissect what it meant for learning solutions and for our company at the recent Ecosystem conference, and we gained much information to use to benefit our team and our clients.

Over time, organizations have built so many systems to deliver training and learning to their employees and constituents. Unfortunately, having multiple learning delivery systems places a big burden on the learner – they have to navigate through a sea of options to find the one that best suits their educational needs. Wrestling with multiple systems doesn’t create a very cohesive learning experience for the learner.

Many of the organizations at the conference, which was hosted by the eLearning Guild, a professional society that we belong to, were discussing ways to work toward integration of the different learning systems they’ve built. Ultimately, they are trying to improve the quality and impact of the learning experiences they offer by taking a step back and identifying a broad strategy for learning and development at an organizational level.

Another trend discussed is that organizations are recognizing that learning isn’t necessarily confined to online courses or in-person/classroom training experiences. There’s a push toward expanding what we define as “learning experiences.” More modern views of learning are acknowledging both the formal modes of learning as well as more informal modes of learning such as social media, performance support tools and well-structured, on-the-job growth experiences.

This conference helped us gain some insights as to how organizations are building systems that embrace this broader definition of learning. Organizations are trying to get learners the experiences they need at the right scope, in the right mode and at the right time.

As organizations look at systems and re-think learning experiences, they are using data to help determine the effectiveness of activities so they can invest where it makes the most impact. As a direct result of what we learned at Ecosystem, we at Vivayic plan to be more proactive in helping our clients think through the evaluation and data analysis of new initiatives and learning experiences, which will give them quality metrics to measure return on investment.

We do love learning so we enjoy going to conferences like these in general, but certain aspects do stand out. They allow us to stay current to benefit our clients. We’ve seen a lot of changes in the eight years since we started the company. Conferences like this give us insights in how to prepare for what the field may look like in the next eight years.

We also love connecting with other thought leaders in related fields. As an expertise-driven organization, we rely on the knowledge of our team members and our network. Sometimes being the smartest person in the room means that you know the right expert to involve in a project. The Ecosystem conference was a chance to build relationships and share ideas with some of the smartest people in the learning services industry.

During the SolutionFest, we even had the chance to share our own expertise since one of our projects was featured. Along with team member Jessica Travis and one of our clients, we chatted with attendees about what made our project, and team, click, which was a really great experience for our team, and for Vivayic.

The desire to gain all that we do at these events ties back to a couple of our values:

  • Cultivation – We believe in continuous cultivation of our knowledge and skills so we make time to attend professional development experiences like this one.
  • Excellence and Practicality – We strive to bring these two qualities together in the solutions we build with our clients; this conference gave us insights into trends that will ultimately help us elevate these two qualities in future work.

We really strive to practice what we preach. Our leadership team is constantly thinking about how we can reiterate our own internal learning systems to support our team’s growth and development. Conferences, like Ecosystem, help us meet, and exceed, those goals.