What a great event!
I know I say that every year, but this year’s Fusion in Kissimmee, Florida was special for a lot of different reasons. First of all, this year is D2L’s 20th anniversary as a company — so Fusion 2019 felt a lot like a birthday party. And second, we held our conference a stone’s throw away from the Most Magical Place on Earth, so it was inevitable that a little bit of that magic would wear off.
I’m sure every one of the more than 1,000 people who attended have their own personal Fusion highlights, but after reflecting on the event over the past few days, six key takeaways have really stuck with me:
The Speakers Were Amazing: This year on the main stage we had — not one but two — Paralympians share their message with us. Teenage swimming sensation McClain Hermes lit up the stage with her description of how technology has helped her achieve her academic and Olympic dreams in a way she never thought possible. Skiing legend Bonnie St. John didn’t let a little thing like a power outage stop her as she electrified the crowd and challenged all of us to live extraordinary lives. And Joe Kelly from FedEx left not a dry eye in the place when he talked about the promise he made his mom to get his degree. I heard from participants that the session leaders — too many to name — were outstanding, too.
The Future is Human: One of the subjects we talked about was the fact that the most durable skills of the future will be the skills that are uniquely human — skills like creativity, empathy, flexibility, critical thinking, entrepreneurship. And while a technological world requires technological proficiency, inherent in that is a bit of a paradox — because it’s our human skills that are the most durable.
Momentum is on our Side: Even after 20 years in the market, we’ve never stopped listening, learning, and innovating — working with our partners to continuously improve our platform and do our part to change the way the world learns. As Nick Oddson likes to say: “We don’t just develop software AT you, we develop it WITH you,” and everyone I spoke to at Fusion sees that value in the interactions they have with us. I heard that message time and again from our customers — and I think it’s a big reason why we’ve been ranked as a Leader in the 2019 Aragon Research Globe™ for Corporate Learning and as the #1 LMS technology for Next Gen Online Teaching and Learning by OVUM.
Education and Corporate Learning are Allies: In Joe Kelly’s story we heard about how the University of Memphis teamed up with FedEx to do something amazing. At the core of the new program they developed — Learning inspired by FedEx, or LiFE — are three simple principles. First – anyone working on the front lines for FedEx regardless of academic background is welcome to take the program. Second — they can start taking the program as soon as they become a FedEx employee. Third — employees have an opportunity to complete a degree at no cost to them. This has helped FedEx train and retain thousands of employees in a short time and demonstrates the kind of partnerships we’re seeing in business and academia as leaders prepare for the future of work. FedEx and Memphis are a great story and one of many great stories we have been fortunate enough to help realize with our clients around the world.
Our Clients are Partners: It was an absolute joy to see so many of our clients in one place at one time. It’s always a highlight to interact with them, chat, see them in our labs, listen to them holding design sessions and hear all about how they are working together to tackle growth and improving student experiences. Their input and feedback helps us continuously improve our product, and fulfil our mission. It’s clear we are not just vendor and clients — but partners in learning.
The D2L Team is The Best: Putting on a conference like this takes months and months of effort — in fact our team is already preparing for the next Fusion in Anaheim in 2020 and the one after that — in 2021 — in Toronto! For the countless hours they put in, for their good humor, talent, skill and incredible professionalism, I just want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to our entire D2L family — and I hope you have scheduled a little time off this summer. You’ve earned it!
Thank you for attending Fusion – your voice and presence matters. I look forward to seeing you at some of our regional events and working with you to make learning experiences even better!