NERCOMP's Learning Organization Academy Accepting Registrations

Rebecca Dewey
Monday, June 10, 2013 - 4:30pm

The Learning Organization Academy (LOA), sponsored by NERCOMP, is set to start its second year in July. The program consists of a three-day intensive workshop and refresher workshops throughout the year.  LOA participants hail from varied backgrounds within higher education but all seek to infuse change and positive growth in their institutions.

The program was conceived about two years ago by Dave Wedaman of Brandeis Univeristy and Colleen Wheeler of Wheaton College. Gina Siesing, Director of Educational and Scholarly Services explains, “My co-collaborators and I were on the NERCOMP board together and they invited me to work on this project with them.” The three created the structure and content of the Learning Organization Academy and received seed funding from NERCOMP to run workshops throughout the year.

“The overarching goal is catalyzing change in higher education. Change is happening, and our participants are challenged to help their organizations become more agile and adaptive,” says Gina. The course addresses this goal through three broad tracks: mindfulness and reflection, social learning, and passion and joy. Each of the themes is woven into both the immersion and the workshops.

The program is a year long experience for library science and IT teams who tackle “inquiry projects” to help increase a “culture of learning in their workplaces,” according to the LOA website. The program begins in July with the three-day immersion workshop and each team presents their project idea and participates in interactive seminars. This is followed by 1-day sessions throughout the year where the teams are joined by other NERCOMP members to hone core skills. In between the beginning workshop and the 1-day “booster shots,” each team is coached by Gina, Dave, or Colleen, who regularly check in with them and offer reflection and advice. The teams then present a midyear and final reflection to their cohort via video. For the coming year, Gina is hoping that some members of the 2012-2013 class will stay on as coaches for the new cohort.

The 2012-2013 LOA represented many NERCOMP member institutions, including Yale, MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, and St. Michaels. Each team addressed change from a different angle, and there were a wide variety of projects. For example, MIT brought two groups who were working on merging effectively and SUNY Albany investigated how they could effectively share and bubble up important information in a large IT organization.

Gina notes that working on this project has influenced her thinking about institutional change and helped her to guide Educational and Scholarly Technology Services through the recent UIT/ITS merger. “We’ve been thinking a lot about how we become a learning organization.  I think it’s important to continue raising awareness of the larger goals and trends in higher education broadly and at Tufts. It helps us to raise our level of focus as individuals and an organization,” Gina explains.

Registration for the 2013-2014 Learning Organization Academy is still open. Applications are due by June 17, 2013 or until sold out (spaces are limited). While no Tufts team participated last year, Gina is hoping to see some colleagues at LOA in July.