I’m not sure work should be this much fun.
The Learning and Skills Group Conference was yet again another outstanding event. Of course everyone will have their own perspective but for me there were several reasons that I enjoyed it so much which I shall soon outline.
Pre Event Preparation
I saved the event stream hashtag #LSG13 in my hootsuite application several days before the event had taken place. I was briefed by Kate Graham along with my fellow backchannelers with a some pointers to make the most out of tweeting opportunity. I had also done an internal release within my org, to let people know I would be attending and create a little bit of curiosity as to what the backchannel is all about. I also wrote a pre event blog to let the world know what sessions I would be attending and who my fellow back channellers would be.
Event Day: My Take-aways
- Participation: It was nice once again to be part of the backchannel team. Its flattering being asked to take a ‘semi-official’ role in what is one of the foremost events in the calendar for learning, skills and technology.
- Cerebral Stimulation: Its a great mix of leading thought, synthesis of current thinking and insight into what goes on in other organisations in the field of learning. Which organisations are adopting innovative approaches and how successfully. Which organisations are lagging behind…and why. You come away with a head full of ideas and dreams. (Yes at a conference…perhaps I need to get out more:)) Insights as to how you might implement or not implement solutions within you’re own organisations or situations. Notes to self. Lists of things to do and people to see. Discussions with fellow professionals over coffee, where you get to engage with their challenges. Its one big learning experience.
- Networking, networking, networking. As much as many of us in the Learning Technology field inhabit a digital world…its good to know and be reminded that inherent in its function, technology allows us to connect easily on a human level. As such, actually being in the real world and looking into the whites of the eyes of fellow professionals is a truly wonderful experience. Everybody say aaaah.
When I attended the conference earlier this year, I had so many insights, but was also so busy that I didn’t make the time to do a write up. So I just wanted make sure I did a follow up soon after #LSG13 to benefit from the zeitgeist of the event. Many others will be adding their 10 cents worth as well. See Lightbullb Jo’s take on the conference.
So all in all, whether you were there or not, you can make it a valuable learning experience for yourself and your organisation.
I enjoyed all the events I covered, and was glad of this… sometimes you can hit a duff session, and nobody wants to waste their own time. So I’m thankful that I not only enjoyed the sessions I attended, but that I was learning a lot in them. The real truth is, when you begin to immerse yourself in your field, you can start to become a bit of a know it all. You’ve heard a lot of it before, and you’ve worn the t-shirt. Whatever you’re profession, this must be resisted. I suppose having a dual role of attending and participating helps to this end…but we can all be part of the backchannel if we so choose, so it’d be good to know if you had never backchannelled before if you feel it enhances the benefit you derive from the experience or detracts? So my brief thoughts on each session:
Opening Keynote – Work, Learning & Living in the Future – Gerd Leonhard (Futurist, Author and CEO of The Futurist Agency)
Gerd provided the keynote for the conference earlier this year, and I think it was fitting to invite him again. However, I could sense a kind of foreboding in the room as he spoke. Gerd speciality is taking a future look at the next 3-5 years, and letting us know how things will be changing. The man beside me shifted uncomfortably in his seat with his pen and paper. The main thrust for me was the future is increasingly networked, increasingly open. Our devices are becoming our external brains and we cannot beat the machine. Good news is that there is still a place for human kind…phew!! We just need to make sense of it all and learn to adapt.
Open Learning – Opportunity or threat? – Steve Wheeler (Associate Professor Learning Technologies, Plymouth)
More on Openness from Steve Wheeler. Steve spoke about how by sharing his content in an open way, it has opened many doors and broadened his audience. One example he shared was a presentation that he has shared on Slideshare was translated into Spanish by someone, and it opened up a whole audience in Latin America. Also, a picture that he took of Malcolm McLaren was used on Wikipedia and as a result by alot of the media when Malcolm passed away. Linking them inextricably forever…Mwahahahahaaa.
You can view the recording of the session here:
The Tin Can API: Connecting the Dots with Data – Megan Bowe (Strategist, Rustici Software)
I found this session useful and informative but I need more time to understand . This is where some of my post conference research will need to be directed. From what I can make of it from this introduction, TinCanAPI allows organisations to track learning and performance in a way SCORM never could. It is open source in nature and as such, can be adapted to suit the particular needs of an organisation. However, it allows individuals to take charge of their own data. My only concern was Megan’s seemingly blind faith that organisations can be trusted with our data. But hey…big brother is already watching us right? Also, with the increasing openness and sharing of all the free stuff…there needs to be a coherent way to pull it all together and get credit for it.
When I booked for this session, I was a bit concerned because I felt it could have gone either way. Perhaps someone telling us mobile was the future or something!! Luckily that didn’t happen. The session wasn’t delivered as advertised and was instead run by Terence Eden and Ruth John from the O2 lab. I hope they will not be offended by me saying that I think we have here some bonafide geeks. I mean it in the nicest possible way. That’s what I was hoping when I booked the session, and I was not disappointed, because in the main….geeks know what time it is.
We got some solid facts and statistics about mobile usage. Turns out Apple is not the centre of the universe. Everyone does not own an iPhone…and actually, owing a mobile phone, downloading the apps, using up data plans etc…is an expensive business. Not one that everyone can afford. So before we get carried away developing the next app within our organisation. Lets take a considered approach shall we?
There was also some nice pointers on the use of Native Apps or using web standards such as HTML5 for designing apps. When is an app a website?
Post Event Reflection
Its always good to have a voice of reason. I suppose I can admit to sometime being quite evangelistic when it comes to knowledge sharing around the areas of learning, performance and technology. In being a tad zealous…you come across many non-believers and even Judases, so its always good to have a calm voice of reason going…hang on. Do we really need a new fandangled whizzymajig? Believe you me, I don’t like adopting whizzymajigs for the sake of it as much as the next man. Its always about learning first and foremost. Impactful, meaningful learning which does its job effectively. Not just learning that can be said to have taken place with no real way of assessing whether or not that learning has indeed taken place. Whether or not behaviour has indeed changed. Whether or not outcomes have indeed improved. Are clients more satisfied? Are employees more competent? Are managers more effective? Or whatever it is you happen to be measuring. Someone said, its not always about objectives. I wasn’t in that session…but I always like to know…what should success look like? How will we know we’ve succeeded? Can we track improvements? I suppose much of the answers you get lies in what you are measuring. I think we sometimes have to ask ourselves…are we measuring the right things?
Blog writing is a good way to contextualise your thoughts. On refelction, there were things I wanted to do but didn’t such as get more opinions from thought leaders, similarly to what I did back in 2010 at Online Educa. See an example here of one I took with Josh Bersin before his Deloitte Days. So my note to self is to take more time on my own event attendance planning to ensure that I reach my personal goals for any event I attend or run. This goes for my work with my band too. You can review some of the twitter stream for the event here: http://storify.com/s0ngb1rd/lsg13-tales-from-the-stream
Im going to leave you with a couple of testimonials. As you will see/hear…they were taken in the bar post event, so please note…these types of talking heads are best conducted in a quiet area…but I think they are fun
Here is Ben Betts from Curatr:
….and here is Harold Jarche (pronounced Jar-key)
Anyway. I believe a good conference leaves you with just as many questions as answers it might provide. That’s how I feel now.