Lifelong Learning 2020 at UW‑Madison

Madison lake and skylineThe planning process deployed for the Lifelong Learning 2020 Strategic Plan features four phases:

The phases both build upon each other, and overlap.

Phase 1— Initiation

Phase 1 began in the Division of Continuing Studies. Continuing Studies advocates for and engages lifelong learners through high quality and innovative programs and services, and is the “home of lifelong learning.”

In November 2013, Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Dean of Continuing Studies, Jeffrey S. Russell, challenged Continuing Studies staff to take a step back; review efforts currently underway to consider the learner perspective, develop learner-centered structures and support services, and incorporate educational innovation and new technologies; and look at lifelong learning in a new, systematic way. A Lifelong Learning 2020 Core Team was tasked with centralizing the key ideas from the efforts, discussions, and documents and distilling them into goals, objectives and strategies.

Three campus-wide lifelong learning goals to reach by 2020 emerged; the first — focused on opportunities for transformative experiences and meaningful learning — being primary.

Goals Diagram

This goal and vision for lifelong learning builds upon Meizrow’s (1997) theory of transformative learning and understanding of the adult learner, specifically, “to help the individual become a more autonomous thinker by learning to negotiate his or her own values, meanings, and purposes rather than to uncritically act on those of others” (p. 11). Through transformative learning experiences, UW-Madison students are better prepared to make decisions, be leaders in their industries, and show an increased commitment to lifelong learning.

The lifelong learning goals and objectives reflect the overall framework for the plan and represent the longer term actions that must be initiated, but it is through unit-specific strategies and tactics that the work will progress to reposition and feature lifelong learning across the UW-Madison campus.

Phase 2 — Continuing Studies Process

To leverage institutional knowledge and experience from a cross sectional team, a strategic planning committee was formed within Continuing Studies. Membership on the strategic planning committee reflected diverse backgrounds and experiences, and provided representation for all units within Continuing Studies.

A Strategic Planning Kickoff Meeting was held on June 9, 2014 to introduce the roles and expectations to the members of the strategic planning committee and to begin brainstorming tactics that would help achieve the Lifelong Learning 2020 goals, objectives, and strategies. Following the Continuing Studies kickoff meeting, committee members were tasked with facilitating unit and subunit conversations about the strategic planning process, and with facilitating further brainstorming of tactics. Brainstorming across units and subunits yielded hundreds of tactics that together reflected some recurring supporting initiatives suggesting areas of focus.

The Lifelong Learning 2020 Core Team then met individually with each unit in Continuing Studies to check on progress, answer questions, and/or help stimulate brainstorming activities. Lifelong Learning 2020 Core Team members also held a check-in session on August 26, 2014 to provide updates on overall progress, and share some of the themes and more frequently endorsed tactics that were emerging. Updates on the Lifelong Learning 2020 planning process were provided to all Continuing Studies staff at All Staff meetings and as part of monthly Dean’s Digest email newsletters.

Phase 3 — Campus Engagements

Phase 3 reflects the introduction of the Lifelong Learning 2020 Strategic Plan to campus leadership, and is the phase that includes gathering vital feedback from key stakeholders. Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning, Jeffrey S. Russell met with governance groups to preview, discuss, and gather feedback on the Lifelong Learning 2020 planning process. Initial meetings were scheduled with the University Committee on July 21, 2014, the Classified Executive Committee on July 31, 2014, and the Academic Staff Executive Committee on September 25, 2014. As the planning process gains momentum toward implementation, additional feedback from governance groups will be encouraged, elicited, and appreciated.

Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning Jeffrey Russell introduced the Lifelong Learning 2020 Strategic Plan to campus during a September 15, 2014 Campus Town Hall Meeting (view video of the meeting here» and the summary notes here»). The Campus Town Hall meeting allowed representatives from across campus units that provide and support lifelong learning programming to consider what they would personally do and what actions their units could take to advance the lifelong learning strategic goals. Representatives also shared and discussed what things campus as a whole could do to advance the goals. François Ortalo-Magné, Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business endorsed the critical importance of lifelong learning and noted the opportunity to translate value from researchers. Phil O’Leary, Chair of Engineering Professional Development, presented lifelong learning as a campus obligation, which is in clear alignment with the Wisconsin Idea.

Campus academic leaders had the opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback when Jeffrey S. Russell previewed key aspects of the Lifelong Learning 2020 Strategic Plan to the Provost’s Executive Group on October 15, 2014, and to the Deans Council on October 22, 2014. Critical to their discussions was the centrality of the lifelong learner and the importance of learner-engagement and learner-informed supportive services.

Gathering learner feedback (ongoing) has also been critical to the development of the Lifelong Learning 2020 Plan.

Phase 4 — Year One Implementation

Phase 4 reflects exploration of new, innovative models of lifelong learning through dynamic partnerships.

This fourth phase relies upon engaged Academic Partners to provide innovative content,

Academic partners

Academic Partners

as well as Infrastructure Partners to provide the student-facing and behind-the-scenes support.

Infrastructure partners

Infrastructure Partners

Key Dates

November 25, 2013 – Initial charge to begin lifelong learning strategic planning

June 9, 2014 – Continuing Studies Strategic Planning Kickoff Meeting

July 21, 2014 – Meeting with the University Committee

July 31, 2014 – Meeting with the Classified Staff Executive Committee

September 15, 2014 – Campus Town Hall Meeting (view video of the meeting here» and the summary notes here»)

September 25, 2014 – Meeting with the Academic Staff Executive Committee

October 15, 2014 – Meeting with the Provost’s Executive Group

October 22, 2014 – Meeting with the Deans Council

January 7, 2015 – Meeting with the Provost

February 20, 2015 – Lifelong Learning 2020 distributed to UW-Madison campus