Learning Technologies 2014 – Better Late Than Never

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On January 29th – 30th I attended the annual Learning Technologies Conference. Its always a great event for myriad reasons. Not least because its an opportunity to catch up with my peers in the field..and what a great bunch they are! I have learned so much from my extended networks in the Learning & Development field and it would be difficult to name them all, but needless to say…the contributions that many in attendance have made to the field…and to me, is unquantifiable. We share war stories, compare wounds, provide solace, detail our victories, give the heads up on strategy, continue and expand on the continual discourse, amplify the knowledge and come away satiated and fuelled for the next level of engagement. Whether that be within our roles, organisations or consultancies. I had a quasi-official role as part of the backchannel.

Top L&D honcho, Nick Shackleton-Jones (read his blog here) pointed out to me that this in itself is an oxymoron…that a backchannel cannot be official! I know exactly what he means of course…but I wasn’t about to let him rain on my parade 🙂

I had already written a post outlining where I would be, what sessions I would be tweeting about. And subject to one small change, I pretty much kept to schedule. So I’m going to do a brief synopsis of my reflections on each of the sessions I attended. There are videos on the sessions at the TimeTagTv section of the Learning Technologies website, as well a continual and lively twitter stream which you can follow at #LT14UK, still going strong from the event itself. So if you haven’t already done so, I would recommend you figure out what  areas are  important for you to expand upon, and do a deep dive. If you can narrate your findings…all there better! (See a couple of great articles on Narrating your work and why its important. These ones are by Hans De Zwart and Harold Jarche.) I’m narrating mine by writing this post.

I am going to link to the videos for each of the sessions I attended as well as provide my reflections. I will then go on to provide my overall thoughts on my experience.

Here goes:

Day one:

Keynote – Brian Solis – What’s the future (WTF)? The effect of emerging technologies on business and culture

Brian works in Silicon Valley specialising in Disruptive Technologies. He works with many organisations and as such, gets the opportunity to observe their cultures at close quarters. Culture can be a barrier or an enabler. Brian advises us not to be pulled along by the whims and fancies of new technology, but rather to embrace ourselves and allow the technology to allow us to become more productive, better versions of ourselves. I like!

T3S1 – Learning strategy.

This strand had two sessions. Surviving and Thriving in the Great Learning Shift – Nigel Paine, NigelPaine.com

Nigel challenged the audience as to why change was necessary……and how that change might look. He was knowing and authoritative. You sensed a deep understanding with and engagement around the subject area.

The second was…Changing The L&D function – A Learning Journey Suzanne Peacock, Global L&D Manager, Diageo

Suzanne has been in Diagio’s learning function since 2011, and outlined some of the changes taking place within the organisation. They appear to be doing some exciting things with Suzanne at the helm…but not without scepticism from parts of the organisation. Her belief seems to be a big differentiator in carrying some of the changes through to implementation.

T1S2 – New technologies – Disruptive innovation and learning – where do we go from here? Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology, Plymouth University and Andrew Jacobs, Learning and Development Manager, London Borough of Lambeth ·

Andrew and Steve engaged in a  ‘Platonic’ discourse, in tackling the subject of Disruptive Innovation. (By this I mean, coming from The Platonic and Socratic form.) Rather than telling us where we need to go with Disruptive Innovation and Learning (which I believe Steve already told us last year :)) They posed questions to one another, then subtly responded in  order to get us, the audience to think more deeply about the topic.

T5S3 – The social future business  – Getting to social: the reality of trying to change a business Euan Semple, International Speaker and Author –

I was really excited about this next one…and I wasn’t disappointed.


Euan Semple, Author of Organizations Don’t Tweet People, People Do….with s0ngb1rd…author of many a song

Euan wrote the book: Organizations Don’t Tweet People, People Do. I already had the book in digital format…and had read much of it. Besides…I really like what Euan stands for. You can blame folk like him for some of my ‘ask forgiveness not permission’ attitude to my work within organisations 🙂 His session did not disappoint. I was encouraged. Euan was talking about how we change organisations…and they do need changing. He spoke about his journey at The BBC…and his slow chip, chipping away. He spoke of the many years, he had been writing his blog and the testament it has become to all he is.  Great guy.

Day two:

Keynote: Beau Lotto –  A beautiful mind – deepening our understanding of perception, creativity and how the brain learns 

Beau showed us a lot of images which showed us how our minds play tricks on us, and how our assumptions often predicate our actions. I think his overarching message was to suspend disbelief, everything you thought you knew…and return to learning with an open mind.

T2S4 – Games and learning – Addicted to the game of learning – Julie Wedgwood, juliewedgwood.com

Julie always holds very practical sessions. Loads of things that you can immediately fold into your solutions. This session was no different. Julie gave us a nice introduction into the world of Games and their place in the learning function. How it might be done, what it might look like, and how it might impact on the organisation. This is an area I’m really keen to explore, and have been for a couple of years. I have done some more delving since the conference…but there is a ways to go. It would also be nice to get some projects in this area…so I’m putting it out there 🙂

TS45 – Video for Learning P1The 10 secrets to successful video production in learning – Mark Copeman, Founder, 8:45TV

Another highly practical session. I’ve created some dodgy video in my time…so this was really great for me. Mark gave us tips, tricks, useful tools and a deeper understanding of how to create videos without the large budget and fanfare…but with reasonably high production values. Thanks Mark.

Barbara Thompson, Learning and Performance Consultant, BP International: – Creating videos for scenario-based learning

Barbara showed us how she took an inherently unpopular subject matter within organisations, Diversity…and created a video based solution which engaged the workforce and really impacted employees. She told us a bit about the rationale behind the project, some of the processes used by BP to get the solution delivered and also some personal anecdotes as to how the subject and content impacted her personally at the time the project was in development.  Very impressive.

T1S6 – The mind and learning P1: Using brain science for behavioural change beyond the classroom –  Itiel Dror, Principal Consultant, Cognitive Consultants International Ltd (CCI)

For this final session (that’s if you exclude sessions at the pub) Itiel talked about Cognitive approaches to learning. Our brains work in certain ways. It is prudent to understand how this happens in order to make learning have more impact. Learning needs to be embedded in the learning activity. It seemed to involve a lot of scaring the bejeezus out of people 🙂 Seriously. You need to take people out of there comfort zones a little, in order to make the experiences memorable and sticky.

In conclusion

I know my descriptions of these sessions might appear brief and trite, however. This is my short synopsis on each. The actual learning for myself has gone and will continue to go much deeper than I can practically outline here.

Another great conference. Well done to all involved.


Singer/Songwriter Learning & Development Consultant Good Egg

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Posted in Conferences, Events, Learning Insight

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