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This Year, It Really Was Personal: Five Lessons From Fusion 2022

D2L Fusion in Boston is a wrap. After months of preparation, days of workshops and speeches, hours of networking and conversation with friends and colleagues, and—for some of us—more than a few minutes of running along the Charles River in the scorching heat, our first in-person Fusion in three years is behind us.

And it was amazing.

Our theme was “This Year, It’s Personal,” and it could not have been more appropriate. Not only did we talk a lot about personalized learning and how important it is that we start to emerge from the pandemic, but we also spent a lot of time reconnecting, sharing, and enjoying each others’ company after a long time apart. Fusion this year was warm—in every sense of the word.

After reflecting for a bit, I’ve come up with five main lessons or takeaways from Fusion 2022 that I wanted to share with you:

  1. Future-Focused: The clients and partners I spoke to are firmly focused on the future. While there were a lot of useful lessons to be learned from the pandemic, most people don’t want to dwell on the past. That said, focusing on the future doesn’t mean “returning to normal,” either. The world has changed considerably since 2019—there are new crises in our world, and there are new challenges and new opportunities in learning as a result. Enrollment is a challenge in postsecondary education. Persistence in getting degrees is a challenge. And the need for building new skills is greater than ever before. We need to start applying what we’ve learned to the issues in front of us today—specifically when it comes to workforce upskilling and lifelong learning.
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  3. Remote Learning: The educators and partners I spoke to have deeply appreciated D2L’s commitment to building better online learning experiences and supporting the class with blended options—and they share our concerns about any return to emergency remote learning. Well-planned online learning experiences can be meaningful, personalized and engaging—and effective online learning results from careful instructional design, development and planning.
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  5. Personalized Service Matters: It’s been a stressful few years. And that’s why our clients have really appreciated our attention to service. Our customers have noted that when they call; someone picks up, when they email, someone gets back to them, and when they have a complex question; they get thoughtful answers. It’s gratifying that people have noticed our attention to personalized customer service—and I’m thankful that D2Lers care so deeply about making sure our customers are happy.
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  7. The D2L Community Is Strong: I admit, I was a little worried. After three years away, would our beloved D2L community show up at Fusion? Would we still be engaged and interested in the important issues facing learners? I am pleased to say that our community is stronger, more engaged and more determined than ever to work with a partner that cares just as much about learners. Overall, there was a tremendous feeling of catharsis—and people travelled 40 hours or more through all kinds of travel challenges just to be together in Boston.
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  9. Learning Is All About Humanity: At one point in my opening speech, I asked people to take a moment to think about why they became an educator, and what they love about it. In the 20 seconds of silence that followed, people reflected deeply on that question—and many people came up to me afterward to tell their story. The common thread in all of those stories was that educators chose their profession to help people. Not all of them were happy stories—I learned that some educators are motivated by unimaginable grief and heartache. But what all educators share—no matter what motivated them to teach—is a sense of hope and purpose. A belief that our world can be better. And that, as Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai Malik said, “One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”
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Technology is great, but if it doesn’t support our humanity, it’s not serving its purpose. Because, in the end, learning really is personal.
I can’t wait for next year.

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