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A conversation with Mirtha Collin, director of education at an Excellence Award-winning association

  • 4 Min Read

D2L recently welcomed Mirtha Collin, director of education at (ISC)² to its Corporate Customer Advisory Board. The advisory board, composed of a diverse set of leaders representing the corporate industry, provides insight into D2L’s long-term product vision. (ISC)², or the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, is a nonprofit organization that specializes in the training and certification of cybersecurity professionals. I had an opportunity to chat with Mirtha; here’s what she had to say about COVID-19, how to start your online learning journey, and what’s next after winning a D2L Excellence Award.

Bianca Del Vecchio: Mirtha, you recently joined D2L’s Corporate Customer Advisory Board—welcome! What are you most excited to contribute?

Mirtha Collin: I was super excited to see the broad mix of organizations represented on the board. I really am thrilled to be representing associations, because I think we’re doing a lot of really great work around online learning and aren’t always part of the conversation. There’s an opportunity for us to connect more with and learn from our colleagues across corporate, higher ed, and K-12 so that we’re really supporting one another, especially in light of COVID-19.

BD: Absolutely—it’s an opportunity to learn from each other. The COVID-19 crisis has changed how so many organizations operate. Based on your experience, how will it impact the way associations deliver training going forward?

MC: I think in the case of (ISC)², we were well positioned to handle the COVID-19 crisis. We were already delivering online training, though we still had a lot of training happening out in the field in person or in traditional classrooms. For us, the pivot was around encouraging instructors who had never taught online to make the switch—being supportive and offering them guidance and helping training partners around the globe that maybe hadn’t been comfortable delivering online. But we had the infrastructure in place already.

I think some may be struggling because they’ve relied exclusively on classroom-based or event-based training and didn’t have the correct infrastructure in place. Although I think many of them have made great strides in a very short period, with a lot of support from partners like D2L.

BD: What will be important to keep in mind as many organizations make that quick transition online?

MC: I think we need to remind one another that online learning is more than a video conference and a slide deck. Helping keep each other honest and talking about what a quality online experience is will be important as we move forward. Because I do think, in the rush to get things online, people have started to loosen the definition of what quality online training means.

BD: That’s something I’ve heard echoed by other clients over the past few months—there’s so much more to online learning than uploading a PDF and calling it online learning. It’s a challenge. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that learning leaders in associations are facing today?

MC: Three things come to mind. Firstly, budget and making sure you have the resources you need to deploy a strong, modern learning platform. Secondly, training, both internally and for subject-matter experts and instructors. I think that if you have instructors [who] are resistant to online training, that certainly presents a great challenge. Thirdly, infrastructure—and this requires partnering with your IT department and working through issues around logging and tracking and reporting. Those can be complex to manage—and doing it quickly I think is certainly a real challenge.

BD: Why is it so important for associations to have a modern learning platform like D2L’s Brightspace platform? What should other learning professionals know before getting started?

MC: Aim to understand your learners first. Also understand your organization, and really consider what your goals are around online learning. There needs to be a period of introspection before you pick a learning management system and careful requirements gathering that’s done in partnership with different departments within the association. It’s going to be important for the whole organization to buy into the selection. Finally, taking your time and testing as many systems as possible is important as is executing a formal RFP process. I really would discourage an organization from simply buying a system without carefully evaluating and testing the options first.

I stated early on that it was important for us to have a system that will continue to grow with us. I think being forward-thinking with your requirements is really important. You want to be successful in the short term, but you also want to be able to expand the system to evolve with your needs.

BD: (ISC)² won a D2L Excellence Award for launching its Professional Development Institute—congratulations! What’s next for (ISC)² and PDI?

MC: We may be adding a new course type to the PDI portfolio, to be announced in the future—that’s going to be exciting for sure. We’re also refining our course development process and are going into a period where we’re going to continue to expand our portfolio. We’d like to get to a place where we have 40 to 50 courses that are constantly being refreshed.

And with a bigger portfolio, we want to make it easier for people to find courses. We’re also planning to refresh the front end and make navigation a little bit easier. This means a whole new set of navigational videos as well for new learners entering the platform for the first time.

Want to learn more about (ISC)²’s work launching the Professional Development Institute in the Brightspace platform?

Read their success story here.