I was excited to learn that both Ray Kurzweil and Jaron Lanier were coming to London on 25th and 26th of January 2012 to deliver a keynote at the Learning Technologies conference . Kurzweil was a great source of inspiration to me regarding my ideas and article on ‘The Future of Learning’ and I also used Jaron – You are not a gadget – Lanier’s ‘warning perspective’. The third keynote speaker was ‘good old mister creativity’ Edward DeBono: what else do you need to be seduced to got to London? So I decided to go to London and then I realized I’m connected to some quite interesting Learning & Development professionals in the UK via social media (I propose a new saying: minds of a feather, tweet together). I also realized we don’t share that much with each other as professionals although we are neighbours. I mean there is only a little bit of water between us and it only takes a short hour swim, I mean flight, to meet each other. So I went to London with an extra mission: meeting our UK colleagues and introducing some of them to the Dutch L&D community. So here is my scoop of UK L&D professionals.
(Please keep in mind the texts below are my interpretations of the meetings I had with these people, so at my responsibility and so is information that might be misinterpreted by me).
Donald H. Taylor is chairman of the Learning Technologies conference and the connected Learning Skills Group. He shared with me his thoughts and concerns on the L&D profession. His observation from the field and the media is that learning has become more important in business and senior managers recognise it as important for their companies to stay competitive. But most executives don’t expect L&D colleagues to deliver this kind of learning: they see us as the guys and girls from classroom training. So they might hire big consultancy firms to do the job. Donald stresses the importance of L&D professionals to become better at conversations with senior managers about the business to create connection and be able to deliver valued learning interventions. From this you might think Donald is a man of concerns: you’re wrong. He is an energetic and positive person.
The next one is Donald H. Taylor. He is chairman of the Learning & Performance Institute. This is a community of 3000 L&D professionals.The Learning and Performance Institute exists to continuously raise standards of professionalism within the learning community, whilst promoting and measuring the impact of learning on organisational performance. Besides membership the Institute works on accreditation and certification. Also the LPI hosts the annual Learning Awards to recognise outstanding examples of high standards, best practice, innovation and excellence within the Learning & Development industry. Have a look at the Learning Awards website and you can see the event has style. Also the Learning Technologies conference is one with style. So there’s only one conclusion possible about Donald H. Taylor: the man has style.You can follow him on twitter via @DonaldHTaylor and read about his ideas on his blog.
Denise Hudson Lawson is ICT Training Manager of The Houses of Parliament. She is the Winner of Training Manager of the Year award in 2009 and 2011. In 2009 she won this prize for creating a professional L&D function for the Houses of Parliament. In 2011 she won again for she and her team managed to create and deliver a huge amount of tailored learning for members of Parliament. One of the specific circumstances to cope with is ‘the bell’. After hearing the sound of the bell Members of Parliament have 8 minutes left to enter the voting room. After 8 minutes the door gets closed and the voting process continues: if you’re not in, you can’t vote. Denise and her team focussed on designing short training modules from 1 to 3 hours to cope with this situation and it worked out very well. You can follow Denise on twitter via @DHL66
Steve Wheeler is an Associate Professor of learning technologies at Plymouth University. Because of his father’s work the Wheeler family lived for some years in the south of the Netherlands were Steve went to school. Once he visited the Evoluon in Eindhoven a kind of technology exposition related to Philips. That’s where Steve developed his interest in technology. He is a great speaker, always blending his content with some fun, so if you ever get a chance to join one of his presentations just do so. He has a very rich and regular updated blog called ‘Learning with ‘e’s’ and he shares a lot of nice info using Twitter. On his blog you can find the story behind his twittername @timbuckteeth and the special avatar he uses.
Craig Taylor started in Learning & Development in the UK army. He explained it was rather complex to switch to a business L&D position because his education and experience from within the army were not recognised as formal qualifications outside the army. He worked some time for Urenco but I think that’s not the source of the fact that this man radiates enthusiasm and energy. He now works as a solutions consultant and shares his ideas via twitter as @CraigTaylor74 and via his blog ‘Tayloring it’.
Peter Casebow is CEO of Good Practice an Edinburgh based company. They create and deliver practical learning and development material for managers and leaders. One example is the Good Practice Management tips app. Pete told me this app reached 10.000 downloads in 9 months. The statistics show some nice pictures about the usage of the app. Most owners use it 1,5 times a week for a meantime of 25 minutes. Most of the time they use it before or after working hours with between 9 and 10 in the evening as most popular moment: it seems managers take some time for reflection in the evening. You can find nice resources on the companies website or learn about Pete’s ideas on his blog or follow him on twitter via @petercasebow
Laura Overton is Managing Director of Towards Maturity– a not for profit benchmark practice that provides independent expert research and advice in using learning innovation to accelerate business performance. Towards Maturity leverages the wealth of data provided by its benchmark, an internationally recognised longitudinal study based on the inputs of 1800 organisations and 3000 learners since 2003. Her organization presented a very nice infographic ‘Boosting Business Agility’ during the conference. It can be found on the website were you can find a lot of very interesting results from research: a must see if you want to bring your L&D activities Towards Maturity. Laura’s twitter name is @lauraoverton.
Niall Gavin is Head of HR & Learning Technologies at Firstgroup. First is the UK largest bus and rail operator.Niall started his career as a professional actor for theatre and television. Now he is responsible for the management and development of learning technologies at First. (I didn’t find out how he switched from actor to L&D-pro, hope he will leave some comment on that and hopefully some tips for a switch the other way around!) His role is to ensure the development, delivery and facilitation of learning via appropriate methodologies and tools. And Thrice Winner (!) of the National Training Awards in 2002, 2003 & 2004. You can follow him on twitter via @niallgavinuk and read his blog ‘A Little About a Lot’.
Charles Jennings is ‘Mister 70-20-10’. He published a lot on the 70-20-10 approach for learning and delivers workshops and webinars about this concept. He worked for several years as CLO and now as Managing Director of Duntroon and as Senior Director for Internet Time Alliance. I had some discussion before with Charles via his blog and mine about the 70-20-10 approach. In London we discussed about the biggest misconceptions regarding the 70-20-10 approach. Charles mentioned the misconception that L&D professionals tend to think they can manage the 70-20-10 approach on their own. That is not possible: the role and responsibility of line managers is crucial, you have to work together with them. Also it is important to facilitate the 70% learning by doing your job. Charles wrote a very nice three part article on workplace learning using Alice in Wonderland metaphor. He was inspired to use the Alice in Wonderland metaphor because there is a special connection between his mother and the story of Alice. You can find it on his blog and you can follow Charles on twitter via @charlesjennings.
As you can read I had the chance to meet some interesting people in the very nice atmosphere of the Learning Technologies conference. The next one is planned on January 29-30 in London. This blogpost is the official start for a Dutch delegation to visit the conference in 2013. Please let me know if you would like to join. Donald, I’ll keep you updated on the number of tickets to keep in reservation.
Ger Driesen @gerdriesen