Design Thinking, Robotic Exoskeleton’s & Being Brilliant @Learning Live

September 18, 2013

Last week I had the opportunity to attend #LearningLive for the first time. To be honest although I had obviously read the programme I had no idea what to expect from the event but I left excited and brimming with inspiration from what was a fantastic conference!  The conference covered a range of topics from the successful use of mobile technology and multi-devices, to the value of implementing new business skills.  Although focused on learning technology, we even got a chance to explore the importance of emotional well-being. This certainly didn’t feel like a dull or ordinary conference!


Learning Live had a great mix of energetic and engaging speakers, so here’s a brief overview of the talks/workshops that I attended:

First up was ‘What Works: Five multi-device and mobile learning success stories’ delivered by Imogen Casebourne, Director of Learning at EPIC. I really enjoyed hearing about the value of ‘Just in time’ training and seeing inspiring examples where this was achieved. This talk really highlighted for me the need to recognise the differences in course delivery methods and the increasing need for elearning to work on all devices. For ID’s this may mean aiming to design ‘future proof’ content, in that the content presentation will allow access on multi-devices. Most interesting I felt  was the emphasis on the value of chunking information up into smaller amounts in order to make it more accessible. I also found the successful use of games when completing repetitive learning (illustrated by Epic’s Numerika maths course) very informative.

I was then inspired by the creative process explored by Sam Burrough’s (Weelearning) session on Design Thinking. We are big fans of Design Thinking at Little Man Project so would strongly recommend you give it a try. If you don’t know what it is then check out our blog post on the Weelearning web site to see it in action. The outcomes of our Design Thinking activities resulted in some really exciting ideas ranging from solutions that could be implemented immediately to an innovative conference badge that could utilise mobile technology to help to optimise the networking experience…I would love to tell you more but I might already be violating their new patent!!

Click on the video below to see the results of my group’s discussions.

Day 2 kicked off with a talk from Spencer Kelly of BBC Click. Here the most interesting aspect (apart from a robotic exoskeleton for the elderly!) was a review about the potential use of smartphone applications such as 123D and Aurazma in our industry and how these ideas could be developed.

First parallel session of the day for me was Andy Whittaker’s performance improvement talk ‘The Art of Being Brilliant’, which was delivered with an infectious northern humour that had the whole room howling with laughter. The best take away for me was “What would the best version of me do in this situation?” Needless to say I have already bought his book and would highly recommend attending one of Andy’s talks!!

Technip University and Alan Bellinger’s talk ‘The Value of Business Skills’ covered a variety of business skills focusing on the fact that employees create a set business value and this must be equal to the cost of employing them – something often overlooked by employers! Thus the value of training intervention should be assessed by the value added to an organisation of an individual having or not having it. This is no mean feat but this information does open up a direct dialogue between learning intervention and positive ROI. Put simply if learning is beneficial and it can be quantified it is far more likely to be implemented!

The last talk I attended was Craig Taylor‘s talk on ‘Compliance Training – From Course to Campaign’. Craig’s passion for learning technology seemed to ooze from every word thus energising the last session on day two. Compliance training, as Craig observed, is on the whole only accessed at a specific period in time (e.g. when joining an organisation, when new legislation is announced or as part of a refresher course). As courses generally involve attendees taking time out of their workflow for intensive learning this has an associated cost for an organisation. This also can potentially reduce the impact of this learning if there isn’t any follow up support post course attendance. By implementing more of a campaign approach not only means less time out of work flow but also may result in an improvement in learning due to more frequent and less overwhelming learning experiences. This utilises the same techniques of message repetition and reinforcement used by top marketing companies. As Lars Hyland explains in a piece from 2010 on the Elearning Network:

“…to put it another way – let’s have less learning, more often. Shorter, sharper, more varied learning experiences deliberately spread over a longer elapsed time period, demonstrably improve learning effectiveness. There are more opportunities for reinforcement of key knowledge, more prompts to practice skills in the field and the ability to adapt to the pace and personal needs of each individual. At long last our efforts can be focused on providing learning support interwoven into life and work, rather than artificially abstracted.

Craig also discussed the importance of making the process of accessing courses/information easier too. Here the question was put to us “How we would feel about course content being taken out of an LMS?” This sparkedinteresting debate about how organisations could then, as a result, prove their compliance. My personal opinions were certainly challenged here….- well done Craig! The workshop also explained the benefits of taking a campaign approach from a learner point of view but also gave us a financial model to highlight the cost savings associated with this change in approach.  We were shown many inspiring examples of this drip drip campaign approach, from infographics to leaflets to desktop items like coasters to continue to reinforce learning information.

Overall I met a really interesting group of people at Learning Live, from freelancers and small elearning companies to corporate business managers all keen to think creatively, to learn and also to collaborate through the sharing of expertise to the development of business partnerships. Needless to say I’m really looking forward to going again next year!!

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