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2011 AHRD Preconference Sessions

2011 AHRD Preconference Sessions

Schaumberg (Chicago), IL

Action Learning - A Powerful Tool for Developing Leaders, Solving Problems, Building Teams and Transforming Orgaizations

Wednesday, February 23 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Dr. Bea Carson, MALC

Action learning is not only an effective problem solving process but also has been valuable to a growing number of organizations worldwide as a powerful tool for developing leaders, teams and organizations. In this session, participants will discover the six essential components for successful action learning programs, explore the steps and processes of implementing action learning, and have the opportunity of practicing action learning in groups of 5-6 members. Successful application of action learning in companies such as Microsoft, General Electric, Siemens, Goodrich, Samsung, and Boeing as well as with universities and government agencies will be described.


By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Understand and demonstrate how and why action learning is effective in solving problems, building teams, developing leaders, and creating learning organizations
  • Apply the six components and two ground rules of action learning as well as the questioning and reflection processes of action learning
  • Understand the skills and roles of the action learning coach
  • Identify the various options available in introducing and tailoring action learning for an organization or academic program

Workshop Schedule

  1. Introduction and overview of action learning
    • Essential elements in action learning
    • Types of action learning programs
    • Stages in action learning
  2. Demonstration of action learning
  3. Solving real problems in action learning teams
    • Groups of 5-6 members work on real problems
    • Members will volunteer problems/challenges within each group to use the action learning process
    • Volunteer action learning coaches will manage the time and use questions to facilitate actions and learnings
  4. Leveraging the benefits of Action Learning
    • Problem-solving
    • Team building
    • Leadership development
    • Organizational learning
    • Professional growth and development
  5. Steps for Introducing Action Learning into your Organization
    • Tailoring action learning to your environment
    • Pathways and pitfalls in establishing action learning in an organization
    • Assessing success in implementation
  6. Questions and answers


Dr. Bea Carson is an author, speaker and expert in the field of Action Learning. Dr. Carson has mastered teaching Action Learning to the full spectrum of organizational levels. She is an external OD consultant specializing in leadership development, problem solving and strategic planning. Bea has worked in private and public sectors, with profit and not-for-profit organizations, locally and internationally, for organizations of all sizes. Much of her work has been with highly technical organizations.

Dr. Bea is frequently asked to be a visiting faculty member at universities across the country. Bea has over 40 presentations and articles to her credit. She is a active member of the board of directors of the Rotary Club of Annapolis and the World Institute of Action Learning. Previously, she served on the boards for Special Olympics Maryland, and the Monarch Academy.

Bea is president and owner of Carson Consultants; cofounder and Vice President of Education and Certification for the World Institute for Action Learning; and cofounder of Workplace Stars.

Pursuing Research in Organizations that is Useful to Practice

Thursday, February 24, 8 a.m. – noon

Victoria Marsick & Karen Watkins

Tight funding can make it difficult to secure funding for research in organizations that need to justify its value for practice. In this session we revisit the time-honored dilemmas of rigor vs. relevance. We explore primarily qualitative research tools for evaluating experiential executive development programs and creating a learning culture to illustrate research that builds knowledge and helps our partners enhance their efforts towards organizational change. Two case examples will illustrate approaches to evaluation- one a theory of change approach, and the other drawing on survey data, narrative circles, and case studies. The first is a global medical company's executive talent development program. The evaluation itself is designed to stimulate reflection both on the learning and the culture to support learning among top executives. The second is a large-scale implementation of a learning culture initiative in the Australian army that is augmented by case studies to spur change in high need areas identified in the survey. Finally, participants will experience two of these techniques and explore possible uses in their own organizations.


Dr. Victoria J. Marsick, Professor of Adult Education/Co-Director J.M. Huber Institute, Teacher's College, Columbia University. As Co-Director of the J.M. Huber Institute for Learning in Organizations at Teacher's College, Marsick regularly faces this session's funding dilemmas. Named Scholar of the Year by the Academy of Human Resource Development, she was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2006.

Dr. Karen E. Watkins is Professor of Human Resource and Organizational Development, College of Education at The University of Georgia. Watkins is the author or co-author of over 100 articles and chapters, and 6 books. Named Scholar of the Year by the Academy of Human Resource Development; she was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2003.

Dr. Steven Talbot, Defence Sociologist, Defence Science and Technology, Department of Defence, and Dr.Paddy O'Toole, Senior Lecturer, Monash University, Australia

Successful Virtual Training Design and Delivery

Wednesday, February 23 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Darren Short

In the current challenging economic climate, many organizations are looking to virtual training as a way of reducing training costs. However, many trainers are suspicious of virtual training, believing it reduces satisfaction, learning and impact. This workshop explores how to design successful virtual courses, and also how to convert in-person courses to a virtual format.

The pre-conference focuses on key steps in virtualizing training with a focus on three example programs where a move to virtual delivery generated no negative impact on evaluation numbers for satisfaction, learning, impact or business results.

The three examples are:

  • Converting a four-day onboarding program to a three-day virtual
  • Designing a three-day project management course to run in both in-person and virtual formats
  • Creating a virtual training campus in Second Life.

Each example illustrates specific approaches that can be adopted by most organizations. In addition, each example is backed up by evaluation data that show the effectiveness of the designs, and allow comparison of comparable in-person and virtual designs.


The workshop is led by Darren Short, Director of Global Learning & Development at Avanade, Inc – a 11,000-employee global high-tech consulting company based out of Seattle. Darren leads a team of global HRD professionals who have designed and run hundreds of successful virtual classes for thousands of employees worldwide. Darren also led the design team for Avanade's new Virtual Campus in Second Life, which hosts training courses and presentations for employees around the world.

Emerging Research Course

This course, designed for students, will examine the role of research in HRD, emerging themes in HRD research, criteria for evaluating research in HRD, critique of past and future conference presentations, the role of professionalism and professional organizations in HRD. This course is offered in association with the annual conference of the Academy of HRD.
Participants will have the opportunity to engage with students and faculty across HRD academic programs. They will also describe the role of theory and research in HRD and understand various research paradigms. There will be an opportunity to meet HRD scholars who will share their professional journeys.

The program will describe standards for good HRD research, outline the criteria for evaluating HRD research, and describe the review and publication process for HRD research.

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