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Five questions...for Lynn Johnston

By Lisa Neal / June 2007

TYPE: INTERVIEW
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Lynn Johnston is president of the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD). This innovative professional association helps practitioners bring effective e-learning to a population that is diverse in language, culture, and geography.

Lisa Neal: What are the unique challenges CSTD faces as e-learning expands in corporate training programs?

Lynn Johnston: I don't think our challenges are unique by any means, but the introduction and expansion of e-learning has led to the examination of whether or not e-learning is its own industry. I think we have all come to the conclusion that it is not—that it is in effect another medium, albeit an important one, for training delivery.

We have also faced an interesting challenge of trying to find the practitioners involved in e-learning. They have not necessarily been aligned with WLP [Workplace Learning and Performance] professionals, but rather with IT professionals.

LN: What are the needs within Canada that differ from the U.S., Europe, and other regions? In particular, are there language and cultural issues unique to Canada or to provinces in Canada?

LJ: I sometimes say that Canada is conducting a great social experiment. We are no doubt the most multicultural place on earth. One of our food processing members reports that when they release a new job aid into their various plants, they simultaneously release it in 8 languages. I love being in Toronto during the world cup of soccer—every day some part of the city is celebrating!

As a result, I believe Canadians are leaders in thinking about diversity issues and looking at how we accommodate the differences we experience in our workplaces. The skills shortage has hit, especially in our western provinces, which are seeing rapid growth through major energy projects. So the ramp-up time has accelerated and talent retention is a huge issue. But we are seeing more focus on the value of learning, not only to the employer but as a retention tool for the employee.

LN: What is your vision for how CSTD can improve e-learning from the perspectives of training managers, instructional designers, and students?

LJ: We have just signed a contract with our federal government to perform 12 impact studies of training in the workplace. The intent is to do these studies in the same way, share the tools to do them, and share the results. We will be in a position to demonstrate the impact and value of training to Canadian business, indicating when and how they should invest in training of their own. If we can convince employers of how to measure that return on investment, then we will see a greater focus on training that is aligned with business goals that makes a difference. That focus will ensure greater emphasis on the quality of our learning programs and we will see the bar raised across the board!

LN: How does CSTD partner with ASTD and other national and international organizations?

LJ: CSTD is an ASTD Global Partner. Essentially we have an agreement with ASTD whereby we offer Canadians membership in both organizations at a bit of a discount through CSTD—a one-stop shopping concept. Our relationship with ASTD has been a good one for us-many senior staff and board members have come to our annual conference to either speak or participate, and the Canadians who have joined benefit greatly from ASTD's services, especially research in the industry. We are also a member of IFTDO [International Federation of Training and Development Organisations] and will be hosting their annual conference in Toronto in 2009.

LN: How does CSTD deal with specific regional needs?

LJ: We have only been a national organization since 2003. Prior to that, we were a provincial organization, headquartered in Ontario. In 2003, our insightful board offered WLP practitioners across the country to get involved if they wished, and we very quickly went from three to 19 chapters, which is where we are today. So we try to meet regional needs through the chapters, and by holding one major event in a new region of the country each year. In May 2007, we held a symposium on Assessment, Measurement and Evaluation in Montreal and next year we will be in Vancouver. Watch our site for details.



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    Lisa Neal
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  2. Predictions for 2004
  3. "Spot Learning"
  4. When will e-learning reach a tipping point?
  5. Q&A with Saul Carliner
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  7. The stripper and the bogus online degree
  8. Five questions...for Tom Carey
  9. Learner on the Orient Express
  10. Five (or six) questions...for Irene McAra-McWilliam
  11. How to get students to show up and learn
  12. Blended conferences
  13. Predictions for 2002
  14. Learning from e-learning
  15. Q&A with Don Norman
  16. In search of simplicity
  17. Five Questions...for Christopher Dede
  18. Want better courses?
  19. Designing usable, self-paced e-learning courses
  20. Just "DO IT"
  21. Senior service
  22. Formative evaluation
  23. Blogging to learn and learning to blog
  24. Predictions for 2007
  25. Not all the world's a stage
  26. Five questions...for Seb Schmoller
  27. Do distance and location matter in e-learning?
  28. Why do our K-12 schools remain technology-free?
  29. Degrees by mail
  30. The Value of Voice
  31. Predictions for 2006
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  40. Predictions for 2008
  41. Serious games for serious topics
  42. Back to the future
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  44. Q&A
  45. Storytelling at a distance
  46. Talk to me
  47. Q&A with Diana Laurillard
  48. Online learning and fun
  49. Everything in moderation
  50. eLearning and fun
  51. The basics of e-learning
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