Tag Archives: reviews

Pipped to the post

Following on from my previous post where I reflected on my own visit to the Learning Technologies exhibition in London Olympia last week, I felt the need to catch up on the Twitter backchannel to help me get a feel for what was said at the conference on Level 3. The conference was rich with my learning gurus and those who would soon be on that guru list.

If anyone wanted to be convinced about the value of Twitter, this is definitely one example. It was (almost) like being there again but this time I had the luxury of checking out the links within the tweets for further information. Hail the backchannel. And hail @learninganorak who did a stirling job of Tweeting updates throughout the two days (I honestly don’t know how you do it – you must have bionic fingers).

From there I was able to catch up on various blog posts reflecting on the event both from the conference and the vendor floors. Everyone has a different perspective but there was a common theme about the mis-match of focus between floors as I mentioned in my previous post. Then I thought – hey, how about collating all these blog posts in one place and sharing them.

It was such a brilliant idea that I was pipped to the post by Cathy Moore. It certainly saved me a job. So rather than me repeat the super job Cathy has already done why don’t you check it out for yourself. And just so I feel I have contributed to the list here are a few more. Happy catch-up.

e-Learning Centre’s review
Craig Taylor’s reflections
Nowcomms Learning Technologies exit poll (an interesting read)

Reflections on Learning Technologies 2011

Last week saw this year’s Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition. I was there in my official Training Foundation capacity where we had a stand. It was my remit to attend some of the free seminars and get a feel for what is being planned for this year with some of the other vendors in the exhibition halls with the occasional manning the stand.

Alas, I wasn’t able to attend the conferences on level 3 – there were some major names from the world of learning: Roger Schank, Jane Hart, Jane Bozarth, and Cathy Moore, Clark Quinn, James Clay, Craig Taylor, and Steve Wheeler to name but a few. Ah well – maybe next year.

As you would expect at a learning technologies event, Twitter played an important part in spreading the word for those who weren’t able to attend the conferences by using the hashtag #LT11UK to stream all the relevant chatter. If anyone is interested, here’s the Twitter backchannel from the conference. Nevertheless, the free talks were useful especially if you looked beyond the sales pitch of most of them.

The reflections after the event was that there seemed to be a difference in vision between the conference floor and the vendor floors but as I didn’t have first hand experience of what was being said in the conference I wouldn’t like to comment. However, what I found from this year’s exhibition was the recognition by some of the vendors of the value of enabling conversations as well as the need for bite-sized, on-demand and mobile solutions. All seemed to support the need for change in how we deliver learning. Of course, the sellers are always going to peddle their wares to the best of their ability and of course they will wow us with the latest gizmos and gadgets. But what I found refreshing was at least the acknowledgement that it’s not only about the content but collaboration too.

Adobe Captivate has incorporated a Twitter widget option to encourage collaboration and reduce the feeling of isolation in eLearning study modules; Epic has created iPhone apps for learning encouraging bite-sized learning and there are a more companies providing authoring tools for mobile technology. Personally, I’d keep my eye on the whole mobile arena now smartphone technology is well and truly settled in.

What we have to try and do is stay grounded and remember that it still has to be about the learning. It’s how we design the learning that needs to change not necessarily about using the latest gadgets. Don’t get me wrong – I love the gadgets and if we didn’t reach for the sky we’d still be sending children up chimneys. The gadgets will be the enablers – to make learning easier, more accessible and more efficient.

Look out for my musings on some of the free seminars I attended during the event. They were:
‘How to create and integrate engaging mobile learning content’
‘Ten essential tips for working with SMEs’
‘Social learning when everything’s new’
‘Going mobile’
‘Collaborative learning using Twitter and Adobe Captivate’
‘Telling stories using learning technologies’
‘Coaching for Gen Y and beyond’

Another good read ahead

I’m very excited….. I’ve just received Clive Shepherd’s new book The New Learning Architect which is now available from Lulu and on the Kindle.

I’m going to be digesting Clive’s work over the next week or so and will post my own humble thoughts on it. In the meantime though, I thought it would be a good opportunity to re-introduce you to Clive’s Blended Learning Cookbook.

With the need to do more for less in this current economic climate businesses are increasingly coming under more and more pressure to continue to equip their workforce with the knowledge and skills to perform in difficult circumstances. Clive Shepherd’s book is an excellent place to start if you need some practical advice to provide more efficient learning and development solutions but at the same time, maintaining effective learning to take place.

The book is a refreshingly clear explanation that cuts through the fog by determining exactly what blended learning really is. It is written with an unbiased view of media which so many others fail to do. It will open up a whole new range of opportunities to organisations that is beyond what we might call traditional training methods. Afterall, it’s about blended LEARNING not blended TRAINING.

What it doesn’t do, and rightly so, is insist that a blended solution HAS to include specific delivery methods to be a true blend; for example, blended learning isn’t just combining classroom and e-learning which is a common misconception.

What makes this book the most valuable asset to anyone involved in providing learning solutions, whether classroom designers, e-learning designers, trainers, managers, senior managers or freelancers is take you back to basics and keeps you focussed on the learning rather than the media. Quality learning has too often taken a back seat in the struggle to find cheaper, quicker ways of delivering training. This book shows you how to keep the balance.

The reason it is a ‘cook book’ is that it gives a rich collection of real blended examples – or recipes to follow. There are plenty and I’m guessing there will be one that will be close to the situation you are currently facing. Even when we eventually rise out of the current downturn, The Blended Learning Cookbook will prove a useful, well-thumbed reference for its recipes.

Without having read Clive’s new book The New Learning Architect yet apart from the back cover and Clive’s own blog posts about it, I’m anticipating that it will take blended learning beyond formal training solutions to a more appropriate and integrated approach to development that reflects how we live and work today.