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Thought Leaders in Online Education: O’Reilly Media Chief Content Officer Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Aug 10th 2018

Karen discusses the trends in online learning including in-the-moment and multi-channel.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as O’Reilly Media and your activities in online education.

Karen Hebert-Maccaro: I’ve been at O’Reilly Media as Chief Content Officer for about a year. I have spent much of my career in talent development and talent management roles including Chief Learning Officer for a high-tech company in healthcare. Prior to entering the corporate world, I was in academics. I taught and was the Associate Dean of School of Business in Massachusetts for about 12 years.

O’Reilly has been providing technology and business training and insight for 40 years. We started as an organization that actually helped to harness and spread the knowledge of innovators in the technical space primarily through our very well-known animal-branded books in technology to help the early-stage coders and developers spend their energies learning what they need to in order to  be successful.

We also have a unique network of experts and innovators that help us continue that beyond just books. We bring them to life in our conferences and in our online learning platform called Safari. We are a SaaS learning platform business. We deliver topical and comprehensive technology and business training across a variety of modalities to millions of users in the enterprise, consumer, academic, and government spaces.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down on your online learning business. What are the highlights? If you were to describe trends in the space and how you are aligned with those trends, what would those be? How would you synthesize that?

Karen Hebert-Maccaro: That’s a great question. The first thing I would say is there are some significant trends in the way learners are consuming content today that we, at O’Reilly, have been thinking about and have been designing our online product to meet. The first is this notion of consumers learning at the moment of need.

In fact, there is this model for moments of need. The first two are when you’re trying to learn something brand new or you’re trying to build on something you’ve already learned a little bit about. The remaining four on the list of moments of need are when you’re trying to apply something, solve something, or change something in the course of your work. O’Reilly has been focused on developing a learning platform that actually meets the full spectrum of those moments of need that a learner might face.

To be a little specific and give you an example, we did some research back in Q3 of 2017. We looked at about 197,000 events on the platform. We learned that about 42% of them were actually individuals jumping on the platform to get an answer, solve a problem, define something, get an idea, and then jump back out to do their work. We call that performance-adjacent learning. We think it’s a big trend in learning.

In fact, we know that Pearson has recently talked about it in terms of learning in the flow of work. We’ve been calling it performance-adjacent learning because we recognize that people are engaged in their workflow. They’re trying to solve a problem in the moment and jump back to their workflow. That’s one big trend that we’re focused heavily on right now. Another trend in online learning is multi-modality consumption of learning.

For years and years, there was this belief that we had preferred learning styles. Over time, and as of late, there has been a fair amount of counter evidence to suggest that while we might prefer certain types of learning, it turns out that in order to really make learning sticky, it’s better if you do multiple things – read something, watch something, and listen to something. We have been working very hard to make an online learning platform that aligns with the reality that modality will lead to greater learning and the ability to actually apply that learning in your work.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: O’Reilly Media Chief Content Officer Karen Hebert-Maccaro
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