MSLOC Retreat Builds Community, Introduces Innovations

MSLOC Retreat Builds Community, Introduces Innovations

MSLOC retreat

The annual retreat for the Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program in early September combines community building with workshops designed to help new students develop personal learning plans. As a kickoff to the year, MSLOC introduced a diverse group of new students to its innovative approaches.

Of the 46 new students at the retreat, 11 are part-time students who live outside the Chicago area and are earning their degrees through the hybrid schedule option, which combines distance learning and on-campus class meetings. Hybrid schedule classes, which include a mix of local and non-local students, are open to all MSLOC students.

Diversity and community
New full-time MSLOC students include students from India and Singapore. Part-time hybrid schedule students live in locations from coast to coast — including California, District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia and Colorado. Students in the program represent a diverse set of industries, both corporate and not-for-profit.

Drawing on the diversity of student locations, backgrounds and experiences, the program emphasizes community. “We work all of our courses and activities to ensure that we have one community. Everyone comes to the retreat, and everyone is active in the Hive, our digital learning and community space,” says program director Kimberly Scott.

Social technology and learning plans
Advanced use of social technology allows MSLOC to have a retreat that goes beyond "orientation." New students can learn basic how-tos through the Hive's social technology platform that is used both for classes and MSLOC community connections. “By design, that means we can focus on building community and supporting the success of our students in a more personal way during our three-day face-to-face retreat,” says Scott.

Specifically, much of the retreat focuses on having students begin to build individual development plans — road maps for how to achieve their professional development goals by tapping into MSLOC courses as well as co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

Problem-based learning
The MSLOC retreat also functions as a kickoff for a once-per-year course called MSLOC Foundations. This course introduces students to problem-based learning — an approach to course design that presents a class with a real problem. Two key MSLOC courses, Foundations and Practicum, are designed entirely problem-based courses – and many other courses use this approach as well. “It is key to our instructional philosophy in how we develop leaders who can deal with ambiguity and complexity,” says Scott.

Student response
The retreat also features social time and a variety of activities to begin building the kinds of connections and relationships for making MSLOC a strong and enjoyable learning community. 

Student responses were favorable. Several students tweeted about community and inspiration. For example, Diane Knoepke tweeted, “Terrific experience and advice from the ‪@NU_MSLOC faculty at tonight's ‪#MSLOCretreat dinner. So grateful for comments from ‪@KGS_Scott et al.” Carrie Lydon tweeted, “Great first day at ‪#MSLOCretreat! Feel like I've found my intellectual home.” And Andee Weinfurter wrote, “Feeling alive and home meeting so many inspiring people and classmates.”

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/17/13