Learning and Skills Summer Conference 2014

Is it really five months since the learning community descended on west London for Learning Technologies? Well it must be, for this week sees the Learning and Skills Group Summer Conference open its doors on Tuesday 17 June. Run by the same fabulous team, this event is designed to explore some of the main themes from the January event, the monthly webinar series and online discussions on the Learning and Skills Group community site.

There are lots of different types of session including auditorium sessions, café sessions, workshops and seminars, all with the common theme of interaction and engagement. Plus, the Summer Forum exhibition runs alongside the conference giving attendees a chance to meet suppliers and see what’s new.

Uniquely this year, I’ve pulled together the back channel team for this event but won’t actually be there myself. Alas, a flight to Crete was booked long before the date was confirmed but my crack team of tweeters will be there to bring you everything you need to follow what’s happening whether you can attend in person or not. Below is all you need to know to make the most of what’s going on.

The team

Here are the details for the dream team who will all be attending sessions throughout the day and bringing you insights and resources from across the conference. If you don’t already follow them on Twitter, go forth, find and follow.

Don Taylor (Conference Chairman) – @DonaldHTaylor
Learning Technologies official feed – @LT14UK
Learning and Skills official feed – @LAS14UK
Martin Belton – @martinb66
Barbara Thompson – @CaribThompson
Alex Watson – @s0ngb1rd
Kim George – @kimsgeorge
Marco Faccini – @marcoable
Mark Bradshaw – @memarkyb
Susie Finch – @susiefinch

You can also follow Ascot Communications (@ascot_comms) for reminders on who’s covering which sessions, when and other general signposting messages and updates.


This year’s conference features four tracks and over 20 speakers discussing current learning topics as diverse as video in learning, storytelling and MOOCs. To follow what’s happening across the event, you need to tune into the hashtag #LTSF14. Try and use this if you’re tweeting (whether you’re there or not!) The team is keen to be able to bring your thoughts and questions into sessions even if you’re not able to be there.

So we can cut through some of the ‘noise’ on Twitter, each conference session will also have its own individual hashtag so you can just tune into what individual speakers are saying. For example, someone might tweet: Laura Overton says 72% of organisations regularly undertake employee engagement surveys #LTSF14 #T2S1 You get the idea. For the full conference programme click here and see below for individual session details.

Keynote: Open – how we will work, live and learn in the future, David Price OBE #OA1

Session one: 11.15 – 12.15

  • Three tech trends that could change learning forever – Donald Clark #T1S1 (Covered by Marco Faccini and Barbara Thompson)
  • Grabbing the attention of time starved learners – Laura Overton #T2S1 (Covered by Alex Watson)
  • Creativity and the art of learning leadership – Doug Shaw #T3S1 (Covered by Kim George, Mark Bradshaw and Susie Finch)
  • How to design and deliver a corporate MOOC – Martin Couzins #T4S1 (Covered by Martin Belton)

Session two: 13.30 – 14.30

  • Transforming organisational learning – Jane Hart #T1S2 (Covered by Mark Bradshaw and Alex Watson)
  • How to capture your audience with stories – Deborah Frances-White #T2S2 (Covered by Kim George and Barbara Thompson)
  • Level up your learners with games – Kris Swanson #T3S2 (Covered by Marco Faccini)
  • Making learning stick – Mark Edwards #T4S2 (Covered by Martin Belton and Susie Finch)

Session three 15.00 – 16.00

  • The big shift: changing how we think about learning – Nigel Paine #T1S3 (Covered by Barbara Thompson and Mark Bradshaw
  • Making mobile learning work – Terence Eden #T2S3 (Covered by Marco Faccini)
  • Video for learning – Mark Davies and Mark Copeman #T3S3 (Covered by Kim George and Alex Watson)
  • Design thinking: more than a process – Sam Burrough #T4S3 (Covered by Martin Belton)


As well as giving attendees an opportunity to talk to suppliers and see some solutions and demos in action, there is also a packed free seminar programme within the exhibition. There isn’t structured coverage of this but no doubt the exhibitors will provide resources and information about their chosen topics so stay tuned to the main event hashtag #LTSF14 for details.


If you’re not already a part of the LSG online community, it’s open all year round and available for you to join here.

Please do get stuck in and ask questions via the back channellers, air your opinions and share useful links and resources. It’s always a lively event online with so much value for everyone involved – and every contribution counts.

I hope you enjoy another fantastic event and I look forward to tuning into the back channel from my sun lounger before returning with a vengeance for next January.


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Resources from the CIPD’s Learning & Development Show

As I was awake at 5am this morning (as I am now most mornings thanks to being a new mum) I had a chance to look through some of the live blogs and tweets from yesterday’s Learning & Development Show #cipdLDShow. Interestingly for me, because I wasn’t there to cover the event in an official capacity, I ended up taking the opportunity to catch up with people and spent nearly all day in conversation (although many that know how much I like to chat won’t be terribly surprised by that).

So I thought I’d post some links here and will add more reflection on the event itself in a separate post.

Official CIPD Tumblr curated for this event by the inimitable Perry Timms (@PerryTimms): http://cipd.tumblr.com/

A nice round up day one from one of the live bloggers, Phil Willcox (@PhilWillcox): http://e3ctc.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/squished-cheated-grumped-inspire-do-biked/

Thought provoking stuff (as ever) from Sukh Pabial (@sukhpabial) on the fact there’s nothing really new in L&D: http://pabial.wordpress.com/

Some fun visual reflections from the day’s events via Simon Heath (@simonheath1)

Coverage from conference sessions on leadership, employee engagement and leadership from Ian Pettigrew (@KingfisherCoach): http://www.kingfishercoaching.com/mobile-blog-page/

CIPD report on its annual L&D survey: http://www.cipd.co.uk/research/_learning-talent-development?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=social

Will add to this post as I get a chance to review more of the content from the show.

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From HRD to L&D: The CIPD Show 2014

CIPD LandD ShowThis is my seventh or eighth year (either way, I’m getting on) attending the CIPD’s annual event focused on learning and development. I call it that because this is the artist formerly known as HRD which has now been reborn as the Learning & Development Show. And it seems the title change is about more than just a facelift. For a while now the CIPD has been taking positive steps as far as its L&D interests are concerned. And as someone who orbits in and around planet learning, it’s really encouraging to see.

I was lucky enough to meet Gill White, Capability and Career Development Director at the CIPD, recently who talked about exciting plans for learning and development based on her impressive experience. She really has been there and done it where L&D is concerned and it’s great that someone who knows the profession so well is shaping the institute’s approach to learning and development as a core part of its business. Andy Lancaster, who I have met only briefly in real life, but whose reputation and tweets speak volumes, has been appointed as the CIPD’s lead for L&D. Again, his experience of being at the coal face can’t help but bring a more up to date and realistic understanding of the challenges faced by learning professionals today.

It’s also great to see the launch of its new Digital Learning Design programme, developed and delivered by none other than Clive Shepherd and endorsed by the eLearning Network. As a member of the eLN, it’s hugely encouraging to see the network getting involved in more formal routes for development that actually start to reflect the way digital learning is used in organisations. A criticism levelled at the eLN is that ‘elearning’ is old hat, but our view is that elearning actually refers to more than click next courseware. This new programme from the CIPD focuses on instructional design techniques and explores different outputs across text, audio, animation and video plus a range of technologies from HTML5 to authoring tools and Flash. This should prepare people for creating a wide variety of ‘elearning’ resources rather than just courses – a good thing in my book.

So why does any of this matter? Well, the CIPD has a huge membership and real sway across the business community. And there aren’t many organisations in our industry in a position to be invited on to the BBC Breakfast sofa to comment on hot topics and current affairs. Its research is robust and what it publishes is generally taken pretty seriously. If they now have a greater focus and understanding of learning and development then surely this can only serve to help our cause?

This week’s Learning & Development Show has a strong conference line-up that focuses principally on case study led sessions. The exhibition looks set to be busy (tube strike permitting!) and there are more learning technology providers in attendance than in previous years which mirrors the changing shape of workplace learning.

CEO Peter Cheese has outlined a vision for the CIPD to ‘champion better work and better working lives’. L&D has the potential to contribute so much to this vision, whether it’s around nurturing talent, leadership development, bridging skills gaps, harnessing technology or increasing employee engagement. What’s so positive is the CIPD has recognised this potential and in working towards its own vision, seems to be taking the time and making the effort to understand learning and development as a profession and as a discipline. In turn, this understanding can inform its research, qualifications (see Sukh Pabial’s excellent blog on the need for more formal career development within L&D) and support for the profession.

I personally get a bit frustrated that the national news in this country focuses so much on education but hardly ever on workplace learning (beyond apprenticeships). The reality is that L&D makes a huge difference across the board, from our biggest and most important organisations, down to teeny tiny start-ups and if the CIPD can better champion that going forwards, I’m all in and can’t wait to see it in action at the event this week.

I’ll be tweeting via #cipdLDshow so will see you online if not in person.

Disclaimer: I’m not tweeting in an official capacity, nor do I work for the CIPD in any way. These are merely my observations that have been formed over several months and distilled whilst thinking about attending the event this week.

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Learning Technologies 2014: Now the dust has settled…

Another Learning Technologies has gone by, but this time I have waited to write up my thoughts following the event. This is partly due to the fact that I am crazy busy, but also because my aim was to try and keep the conversation and reflection going after the event was over. This was then reinforced by a Twitter conversation initiated by Jonathan Kettleborough, and his subsequent blog post on the bias of the backchannel. There were some great points raised and I’ll come back to those later.

Conference highlights
It was tough to choose which sessions to attend this year and sadly I didn’t get into one of my chosen sessions as it was so over subscribed. So I hope Julie Dirksen comes back to these shores soon! I will be watching the video to catch up on what sounded like a great workshop. There was a great buzz in the conference across the board but I also heard great things about the session on storytelling from Deborah Frances-White, the Evil Janes (aka Jane Bozarth and Jane Hart) on collaborative learning and McDonald’s insights on their apprenticeship programme.

My personal highlight was Matthew Syed on the myth of talent and the power of practice. A note on his presentation style – he had no slides, and just sat and talked – but the audience was completely engrossed. Never mind the power of practice, that’s the power of great content. I had read his book Bounce so had a good idea of what he was going to say but nevertheless, his overarching message is really powerful. As UK table tennis champion, he maintains that it was not a natural god given talent that led to his success but his dedication to practice. By coincidence he grew up on a street in Reading that I now know really well and on the same street were three other kids who went on to become table tennis champions. This however, was not a coincidence. It was due to a community centre with table tennis facilities that was nearly always open for them to go and play in, and a great coach. The punchline of Syed’s session – and my main takeaway from the conference – was this:


And also this:


I found this really inspiring, that even if you’re not naturally the most gifted, some hard work and lots of practice can elevate your ability to achieve. It also caused me to ponder whether the ability to practice is something of a learned behaviour. My brother is dyslexic and dyspraxic and so is unfortunately very used to finding things challenging. My cousin is particularly clever and has a doctorate in maths. He is used to finding most things quite easy. They are the same age and started learning to drive at the same time. Both found it hard. My brother stuck with it and passed his test on the seventh attempt. My cousin quit and took the bus. I really believe it’s because my cousin has never really struggled with anything like that before so didn’t have that learned behaviour of toiling away at something to get it right. It also raises interesting questions about talent management processes – is it worth identifying those with ‘raw talent’ if you can invest and develop almost anyone in the organisation if they are given the chance to practice what you need them to do? If you get the chance to read his book then do check it out, it’s well worth a read and I liked the way he applied what he was talking about to a corporate learning context.

20140130_101811The keynotes from Brian Solis and Beau Lotto were both thought provoking – and in the case of Lotto, mindbending – but I tend to prefer the more practical sessions. The guys from Elearnity had some great free resources discussed in their session, providing Which? type guides for the learning industry. And I love hearing case studies but thought this tweet was particularly compelling in terms of getting people to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway':


Exhibition highlights
With such a packed schedule, I didn’t get as much time to look around the exhibition as I’d have liked. However, it seems a far cry from the event I first attended 10 years ago. It’s so much bigger and busier, with some really creative and impressive stands. Having been on the vendor side myself, I often think providers are given a hard time from the punters and let’s face it, if they weren’t there it wouldn’t be much of an event would it? But I saw some new technologies and tools which I’d like to look at it more detail like Adapt and some good looking content too. Everytime I went downstairs there was a great energy and there seems to be less of a divide now between what’s being discussed in the conference and what’s being delivered at the exhibition. For me, the gap seems to have closed over the last couple of years and it’s good to see mobile, social and collaborative technologies and approaches becoming mainstream.

Myself and my crack team of tweeters tried to bring those of you who couldn’t attend the event a flavour of what was happening and what was being said, and this is the third year we’ve done this. Jonathan Kettleborough followed the tweets from afar and has done some interesting analysis and raised some good points about where the backchannel could be improved. For me, the multi-tasking and immediacy of reflection is not an issue, I use tweeting as a form of note taking and I maintain that nobody would raise questions about the quality of an individual’s notes scribbled down whilst listening to a session. The key difference is to consider your audience if you are tweeting. Personally, I feel I am providing a service so am ALL about the audience and know there are folk like Costas following from Australia, Bianca in Canada and everyone in between that has an interest in learning and development tuning in. It’s why I structure the backchannel with separate hashtags for specific sessions and why everything is publicised in advance, so that those wishing to tune in and get some value from the event from afar, can do so.

But there is always room for improvement and the backchannel debate does highlight something Don and I discussed this year, which is facilitating more post event reflection. We’d like to use the Learning and Skills Group to be able to do this. The undisputed king of the backchannel LnD Dave has again curated some fantastic resources from before, during and after the event and it would be great to keep sharing between now and the July event. We’re open to suggestions on how best to take this forward and I’d welcome your thoughts and comments on the backchannel in the comments. It’s all done for your benefit so please do let me know how it can be improved for next year.

And I’d love to hear your event highlights and your thoughts on what you saw and heard at this year’s Learning Technologies now that the dust has settled and you’re back at work.

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What I’m looking forward to at Learning Technologies 2014

I thought this year I’d write down things I’m particularly looking to or that have caught my eye in the build up to this year’s Learning Technologies. Hopefully this will help me review the event afterwards. So in no particular order:

Image1) Tweeting (obvs) -  with my flashy new title of Chair of the Backchannel, I’m excited about working with a crack team of tweeters to try and bring the best of the conference (and the exhibition) to those who either can’t be there, or those who are there but can’t squeeze everything in via #LT14UK. Consolidating things into 140 characters isn’t always easy and I’m wary of just producing a stream of  consciousness or a string of meaningless soundbites. For me, every session has a story and I try my hardest to tell that story through social media and point people at useful resources that can be accessed and used beyond the event. If there’s anything I and the team can do specifically to help you, let us know! (Baby Graham won’t actually be joining the Twitter team but he was keen to try out for the job).

2) Catching up with my PLN - this is hands down the most jam packed event of the year for seeing my PLN IRL (in real life of course). I’m looking forward to see people I’ve known for years, people who’ve flown in from overseas and of course meet new people and keep expanding my network. It is a joyous thing and I can’t wait.

3) My sessions - I’m lucky enough to be tweeting from Matthew Syed’s session. I’ve read his book ‘Bounce: The Myth of Talent and ImageThe Power of Practice’ and am really looking forward to hearing what he has to say in person. Would ask him to sign the book but it’s an ebook, rats. I’m also covering Julie Dirksen‘s session on learning design and Elearnity‘s session exploring the EMEA market for learning and talent technologies. On day two I’m attending the Evil Jane’s (the fabulous Jane Bozarth and Jane Hart) on collaborative learning. Then it’s Helena Moore and Lucy Ventrice on embedded learning (I’ve met Lucy before and what she’s done at easyJet is fantastic!) And to finish up I’ll be listening to Clive Shepherd on blended learning. A real mix of topics but all of which float my boat – just hope I can do them justice!

Image4) Seminars - I am going to try and get to some of the free sessions if I can. It looks to me like the suppliers have really put some effort into providing free seminars that have some value and aren’t just about promoting products. I’ve heard really positive things about Saba’s approach to bringing social learning into their platform so will try and get to their session. Hearing how Compass and City & Guilds Kineo are transforming qualifications is definitely one to watch and I am really keen to find out more about Tin Can API in action so hope I can catch Netex talking about this.

5) Being bowled over - whether it’s a new tool, new resources, new blogs, an idea, a concept or a conversation – anything that is interesting and awesome. I want to be really wowed by something. Challenge laid down then, let’s see if someone out there will accept it.

…And one thing I’m not looking forward to: the food. My top tip is to take a sandwich as the options to buy food at Olympia are not good. Failing that, there’s a Tesco Express over the road!

See you there – or online

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Learning Technologies 2014: Backchannel details

Ahead of this week’s Learning Technologies event, I wanted to supply some more details on how to make the most of the backchannel from near or far. Based on feedback from last year, I have set up the backchannel to run along the same lines in an effort to make it as easy as possible to tune into the sessions or speakers you want.


Gerd Leonhard at Learning Technologies 2013Each conference session has an individual hashtag that will be used in addition to the main #LT14UK hashtag. So if you’re following using TweetChat or a similar application, you can search on the specific sessions to keep your focus on a particular topic. Below is a list of these hashtags and which of our tweeters is covering those sessions. Hopefully you can start following them in advance and really hone in on any areas of interest during the event. Note, the keynotes and opening and closing addresses won’t have individual hashtags. For the full conference programme, click here.

Day one: Keynote: What’s the future (WTF)? The effect of emerging technologies on business and cultureBrian Solis

Day one: 11.30 – 12.30

Day one: 14.00 – 15.00

Day one: 15.30 – 16.30

Day two: Keynote: A beautiful mind – deepening our understanding of perception, creativity and how the brain learnsBeau Lotto

Day two: 11.30 – 12.30

Day two: 14.00 – 15.00

Day two: 15.30 – 16.30

For all the Twitter handles of the team covering the sessions, see my earlier blog.

Official app

The official conference app is now ready to download on iOS, Android and ‘all other internet-enabled mobile phones’. You can download it now to get the latest information on all these sessions, the exhibitors, speakers and more: http://showcase.genie-connect.com/learningtechnologies/?f=1

The good folk at Towards Maturity have also devised a useful guide to making the most of the Learning Technologies exhibition which you can find here: http://www.towardsmaturity.org/article/2014/01/13/towards-maturity-definitive-guide-making-most-lear/

I hope you’ll join in this week, whether it’s just reading the Twitter stream or joining in with the tweets or adding further thoughts and reflection through your own blog posts, I’m looking forward to a week of sharing and connecting. Tweet me @kategraham23 or feel free to drop me a comment below if you have any suggestions for how we can make this the best Learning Technologies yet.


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Learning Technologies 2014: Join in wherever you are

Hammersmith and Fulham-20120125-00133It was recently dubbed ‘the greatest show on earth’ – albeit by someone who, in his own words, needs to get out more – but yes, it’s time for the annual Learning Technologies conference and exhibition. As chair of the backchannel, I’m looking forward to a busy couple of days bringing you all the latest from the world of learning and development, whether you’re attending in person or following from afar.

The back channel
There are multiple ways to tune into the backchannel. Firstly there’s the Learning and Skills Group community sit where members will be posting and links will be available to resources from the event. Anyone can join the LSG for free so if you’re not already a member, sign up here: http://learningandskillsgroup.ning.com/

Myself and other members of the backchannel team will be live blogging, or reflecting on what we’ve seen after the event. Relevant links will be publicised as soon as they become available. And the main place of interaction will be on Twitter. You don’t have to have a Twitter account to follow the back channel, just search for www.twitter.com/#LT14UK.

Although now’s as good a time as any to sign up if you’re not already on Twitter. Even if you only start by following what is happening at the event. I know so many people who now get so much value from being a part of the interactions and conversations that happen on Twitter. It’s a great opportunity to reach out worldwide and build a PLN (Personal Learning Network) – and this is such a good excuse to take your first steps into the Twitterverse.

As well as following on Twitter, you can also register on Lanyrd as a way of connecting with other attendees: http://lanyrd.com/2014/lt14uk/

The team
Opening address
I’m joined by a fantastic team of learning professionals this year who’ll be helping me cover what’s going on during sessions and across the event as a whole. My next post will details who’s covering which session, but for now, if you’re not following the people below on Twitter, start now so you’re all ready for next week.

Don Taylor (Conference Chairman) – @DonaldHTaylor
Learning Technologies official feed – @LT14UK
Me – @kategraham23
Nic Laycock – @alc47
Alex Watson – @s0ngb1rd
Joan Keevill – @designs_joank
Kim George – @kimsgeorge
Susie Finch – @susiefinch
Lee Jones – @ljones8500
Hannah Gore – @HRGore
Sukh Pabial – @sukhpabial
Jo Cook – @lightbulbjo
Ollie Gardner – @olliegardener

Also, check out:
David Kelly – @LnDDave (curator of resources and all round L&D guru!)

Martin Couzins – @martincouzins (who runs the really useful L&D media start-up LearnPatch)

Each of us will be in different sessions throughout the conference, live tweeting and bringing you all the latest.

To follow the action
To focus in on what’s happening follow the hashtag #LT14UK. And if you’re tweeting (whether you’re there or not) use #LT14UK in your tweets. The team and I would love to be able to bring your thoughts and questions into sessions even if you’re not able to be there. So if you’re following the back channel, don’t be scared to pipe up and join in!

So we can cut through some of the ‘noise’ on Twitter, each conference session will also have its own individual hashtag so you can just tune into what Itiel Dror or Matthew Syed or any of the other speakers are saying. Again, details will be posted here so you can plan in advance which sessions you most want to follow.

And if you’re attending the event, the organisers have arranged for big screens all around the exhibition and the conference so you can follow the back channel and see who’s saying what in real time.

What else is happening?
Fusion Universal seminar
More is to come over the next few days, but on top of conference sessions, visiting the exhibition and catching up with your fellow L&D professionals, here are some activities taking place that you might want to check out:

I’ll be posting more over the next few days building up to the event with details of speakers (including Twitter handles and where to find them) and conference sessions (including individual hashtags) and more details on how we can make the most of the back channel together.

See you next week

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