Learning Technologies 2018: The Inside Track with David Perring

On the eve of Learning Technologies, and the day that the initial headlines of the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research are shared for the first time, I talk to Fosway Group’s director of research, David Perring, veteran of too many years’ attendance to mention, and who is delivering two sessions in this year’s conference.

KG: What are you looking forward to at Learning Technologies 2018?

DP: I’m obviously looking forward to hosting two conference sessions – more on those below. And it’s always a great chance to meet up with people in my network and have the chance to talk face to face. In the exhibition, I will enjoy seeing the launch of some amazing solutions we have been privileged to preview in advance. These encompass so many new areas, including real time support which has always been a hot topic for me. Seeing compelling and innovative solutions in this space really excites me. And with the learning technology market changing at pace, we need real innovation – it’s simply not enough to offer the same old dull stuff any more!

KG: What should people be thinking about before they attend to ensure they are as prepared as possible?

DP: PLAN AHEAD!

  • Book meetings with people in your network who you learn from and use the show as a time to connect. One head of learning always did this brilliantly using www.agreeadate.com and letting people self-select meet-up times.
  • Know the suppliers you want to meet. Come with an agenda. Know what innovations you want to explore and check out the vendors in that space before you come so you can make the most of your time.
  • If you’re not in the main conference, check out the free seminar programme. This is extensive now, across 10 theatres and there is great value and insights to be had, so it’s well worth seeing if there is anything that’s worth checking on
  • Do try a VR headset – especially for virtual meetings. I think it will open your eyes about some simple ways to start exploring this innovation your organisation without needing a big budget.

KG: As someone who has attended the show both as a buyer and an analyst, what are your top tips for attendees to get the most out of their conversations at the event?

DP: I have a couple of top tips here. Firstly, ask other attendees what they’ve seen which is the most amazing! Sounds simple but there is usually something that stands out, so do network and strike up some conversations with attendees. Or just come and ask me at the Fosway Analyst Lounge on the day…I’d be delighted to swap insights.

Also, if you see something that really interests you, don’t pussy foot around – be unusually direct and ask the supplier how much it costs, how long it takes to implement, who are the reference customers, what support they offer and what they would do to make you a referenceable customer and what special deal they could do for you.

KG: What will you be talking about in your sessions at this year’s Learning Technologies?

I’ve got a session on the 31st Jan in the conference at 11:10 sharing some thinking about the hot topic of nudge theory and how you can think about using it for learning with some practical examples. It’s an area that most learning technology has completely ignored to date, but it’s going to become increasingly important. It should provide some great food for thought!

I’m also doing a lunch time session with David Wilson on 1st February covering the truth about Digital Learning exploring the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research that we do in partnership with the organisers of Learning Technologies. Over 1300 L&D professionals worldwide have already taken part. We’ll be exploring what tech is really working and which are just hype or wishful thinking. We have insights into L&D budgets and how skill sets are changing with the growth of digital. The research is running now and this will be the first look at what customers are doing (you can still take part in the research here).

KG: Why is it important for people to take part in the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research?

DP: It’s the only way we see through all the marketing blurb and is to hear what customers are really doing. When there is so much marketing content trying to sell the latest product or service, like microlearning or courses not resources – who can you rely on to tell you the objective truth about what’s working/what’s really being adopted and what buyers think of it?

By getting involved in our research, people start to provide more transparency and get a clearer insight into what’s really going on. It’s more than enabling you to benchmark yourself. We have always been passionate about sharing our insights through our free reports including our 9-Grids™. And our independent research enables us to provide stronger insights about suppliers and be an objective voice of the customer and market.

KG: What are your hopes for digital learning/learning technology in the year ahead?

DP: That it’s not the same old dull stuff people had to do last year and the year before that. I hope this year that organisations focus more on buying solutions that power active learning cycles, learning experiences and real performance support, than they do dumping content into people’s heads. We have seen the market be dominated by an underlying content agenda, but we know that’s not always best for learners. The tide is turning…but it might take more than a year.

You can see the initial headlines from the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research here and collect your copy from the Fosway Analyst Lounge. Learning Technologies opens in London on 31 January 2018. Full details here. And you can follow all the action via #LT18UK.

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Learning Technologies 2018: The Backchannel Details

Following my previous post on the Learning Technologies 2018 social team, here are the session details on who’s covering which sessions. Our contributors will be working hard to share insights and key takeaways from every single session of the conference. Remember, we use individual session hashtags so you can hone in on the specifics of certain topics or presentations. So, if you particularly want to know what an individual speaker has to say then you can just search #T1S5 for example. All session tags are detailed below (we don’t have specific tags for the keynotes because SO many people share from these that you can just follow the overall #LT18UK hashtag and keep up).

Day one: Keynote: Emerging Technologies: How advances in science and technology could transform the ways we live, work and learn – Rohit Talwar

Day one: 11.10 – 12.20

#T1S1 – Emerging technologies: David Kelly and Steve Wheeler (Covered by Michelle Parry-Slater, Adam Harwood, Joan Keevill)

#T2S1 – Learning models: Charles Jennings and Joost Smilde (Covered by Sam Burrough)

#T3S1 – Behavioural change: Carlyn Brown, David Perring and Peter Yarrow (Covered by Kate Graham)

#T4S1 – Embedding learning: Laura Overton (TBC)

#T5S1 – Expanded learning: Angie Wagstaff, Guy Neal and Jackie Belcher (Covered by Ollie Gardener)

Day one: Lunchtime sessions

#D1L1 – Designing a modern learning programme: Sukh Pabial

#D1L2 – Globalisation, you and the learning profession: Mirjam Neelen, Norazah Nordin and Trish Uhl

 Day one: 13.50 – 15.00

#T1S2 – Virtual and augmented reality: Peter Daukintis and Ron Edwards (TBC)

#T2S2 – Content design: Myles Runham (Covered by Adam Harwood and Sam Burrough)

#T3S2 – Learning culture: Margaret H Kelsey, Nigel Paine and Tom Bailey (Covered by Sam Taylor and Ollie Gardener)

#T4S2 – Social technologies: Isabel de Clerq (Covered by Kate Graham)

#T5S2 – Simulations and games (Covered by Joan Keevill)

Day one: 15.30 – 16.40

#T1S3 – Artificial intelligence: James Cook and Nigel Wilson (Covered by Joan Keevill and Ollie Gardener)

#T2S3 – Video for learning: Ant Pugh and Matt Day (Covered by Adam Harwood)

#T3S3 – Collaborative technologies: Gemma Critchley and Michael Salone (Covered by Kate Graham)

#T4S3 – Personal development: Tony Buzan (TBC)

#T5S3 – Content development: Anthony Williams, Ceri Davies, Eilidh Cumbor, Pinda Dhillon-Sehra and Robert Fisher (Covered by Sam Burrough)

Day two: The key commandments of ‘learning to learn’ or how to become an expert in just about anything – Ulrich Boser

Day two: 11.30 – 12.30

#T1S4 – Future L&D: Mirjam Neelan and Patti Shank (Covered by Mark Berthelemy)

#T2S4 – Mentoring: Ewa Sulima and David Ivell (Covered by Michelle Parry-Slater and Patrick Mullarkey)

#T3S4 – Microlearning: Shannon Tipton (Covered by Kate Graham)

#T4S4 – Learning and the mind: Amy Brann, Alison Maitland and Laura Pelling (Covered by Sam Taylor)

#T5S4 – Learning value: Will Thalheimer (Covered by Joan Keevill)

Day two: Lunchtime sessions

#D2L1 – The truth about digital learning: David Wilson and David Perring (I’ll be waving the Fosway flag and covering this session)

#D2L2 – Smart learning on tight budgets: Andrew Jacobs, Ennis Reid and Sharon Claffey Kaliouby

Day two: 13.50 – 15.00

#T1S5 – Instructional design: Connie Malamed (Covered by Mark Berthelemy)

#T2S5 – Learning analytics: Trish Uhl (Covered by Patrick Mullarkey)

#T3S5 – Implementing learning systems: Andy Wooler and Mel Cooley (Covered by Michelle Parry-Slater)

#T4S5 – MOOCs: Hannah Gore and Sabine Gori (Covered by Kate Graham)

#T5S5 – Business-aligned learning: Ajay M Pangarkar and Krystyna Gadd (Covered by Joan Keevill)

Day two: 15.30 – 16.40

#T1S6 – AI technologies: Jamie Good (Covered by Joan Keevill)

#T2S6 – Predictive analytics: Matt Wicks (Covered by Kate Graham)

#T3S6 – Learning systems: Matthew Watson, Niels H Rasmussen, Sue Hawke and Suzanne Hamblion (Covered by Mark Berthelemy)

#T4S6 – Game and learning: Michael Sutton (TBC)

#T5S6 – Alignment in practice: Lisa Hamill and Lucy Davies (Covered by Patrick Mullarkey)

For the full conference programme and to pick which sessions you’d like to tune into, click here.

There is also the programme of free seminars in the exhibition which is full to bursting across 10 theatres here. Don’t forget we will be using the hashtag #LT18UKEXPO for any roving reporting from the exhibition.

And so to next Wednesday – learning Glastonbury awaits!

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10 people to follow to get the most out of Learning Technologies 2018

The weather’s rubbish, it’s still dark outside and Christmas feels like a distant memory. That can only mean one thing, it’s January and Learning Technologies is nearly upon us! And with the inaugural Learning Technologies France having already taken place this week, the L&D community is already in the mood for all the great content, sharing, networking and possibly a beer or two next week (mine’s a G&T actually, thanks). So, without further ado, here’s the low down on what to look out for, whether you’re attending the conference, the expo or following from afar.

The backchannel

As ever, the place to have eyes on is the main conference hashtag #LT18UK. This is used on all conference updates across social media. We’ll be using Twitter of course but also branching out across other channels like Instagram, so keep your eyes peeled wherever it is you hang out online. This hashtag is used by exhibitors and attendees of the Learning Technologies part of the exhibition. It’s a great way of tapping into people to meet, things to read and what to see before the event, not just during.

In order to help cut through the sheer volume of tweets, we use individual session hashtags as well as the one for the overall event e.g. Welcome to this session on the future of technology #LT18UK #T1S1. The details of the hashtags for each session are below. You can also stay tuned for blog posts, LinkedIn updates, graphic summaries and videos. I saw a conversation (ironically on Twitter) yesterday talking about how we can reach people that don’t tweet. There should be something for everyone in 2018.

The 2018 team

Hereare the people that will be capturing the action and reflecting on what they’ve heard at the conference. If you’re not already connected with these experienced L&D folk, this is a unique opportunity to make some new connections and expand your network as well as the chance to tune into all the action.

Sam Taylor – @samt_el

Michelle Parry-Slater – @MiPS1608

Ollie Gardener – @olliegardener

Joan Keevill – @Designs_JoanK

Sam Burrough – @samburrough

Adam Harwood – @adamharwood26

Patrick Mullarkey – @mentormullarkey

Mark Berthelemy – berthelemy

Barbara Thompson (Video production) – @CaribThompson

(And me – @kategraham23)

Also, don’t forget to follow:

Don Taylor (Conference Chairman) – @DonaldHTaylor

Learning Technologies official feed – @LT18UK

For the first time this year we’ll be sending the team downstairs into the expo to do some roving reporting. Follow the action via #LT18UKEXPO. Should be fun.

What else is going on?

·      Meet-up

If you’re in London the night before Learning Technologies 2018 on Tuesday 30 January, I’m rounding up any waifs and strays to get together, talk shop and meet fellow attendees before the event. Details here.

·      Free seminars

This year there are 10 seminar theatres with packed programmes delivering insights on everything from learning design to the apprenticeship levy. These theatres are dotted around the exhibition hall and you can just turn up at any session throughout the day. View the full programme here.

·      eXchange

The good folk at Towards Maturity are once again bringing us the Learning Technologies eXchange (on Stand H24). This excellent initiative is now in its seventh year and is designed to give exhibition attendees the opportunity to network at the event and meet the conference speakers You can view the timetable here.

·      Fringe

Martin Couzins is also running his unofficial Barcamp style fringe events at a nearby pub at the end of day one More details here.

Don’t forget… 

The 2018 Digital Learning Realities Research is still open for you to take part. Last year over 1000 L&D professionals shared their experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly –  and I’m excited to report that we are generating huge responses to this year’s survey as well. Fosway and the organisers of Learning Technologies will be unveiling the initial results at this year’s event with the full report to follow shortly afterwards. There’s still time to take part here.

Details on who is covering which session and all the session hashtags will follow tomorrow.

See you there or online!

Kate

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Learning Technologies 2018: The Inside Track with Donald H Taylor

Ahead of the 2018 Learning Technologies conference and exhibition in London, I sat down with its Chair, Donald H Taylor, to get the inside track on this year’s event.

KG: What can we look forward to at this year’s Learning Technologies?

DT: I’m excited about the fact we have put more focus on bringing real world experience into the conference this year than ever before. We have 80+ speakers and session chairs with an emphasis on case studies to exemplify what good practice looks like. We’re also mixing it up with different session types: lunchtime roundtables for example, and increasing the number of short presentations so we can then put an emphasis on discussion. The aim is to help our audience get under the skin of a topic and think about how they can apply their lessons learnt to their own working environment.

KG: What are you most looking forward to?

Three things. First and foremost – and this one never changes year on year – it’s the opportunity to network and meet people. Catching up with people I know and having the chance to meet new people is a privilege and probably the most important part of Learning Technologies for me.

Secondly, bringing people together and making introductions. Connecting speakers with the L&D audience where commonalities can help each other and watching the conversation flow, is a wonderful part of my role.

Thirdly, the case studies and hearing people tell their stories. It’s always great to hear from the experts and thinkers in our field, but I find myself increasingly looking forward to hearing people’s stories of success – and even failure – that the rest of us can learn from.

KG: What are your top tips for attendees?

Be prepared. Know which conference sessions you’re going to go to. Figuring this out is such an important process that’s about so much more than just being organised. It’s because as soon as you start asking the questions about which sessions to attend, you’ll inevitably start asking questions about what your organisation needs, where the gaps in your knowledge are, where your current challenges lie and so on.

In every conference session there should be an opportunity to consider how you’ll apply what you’ve learned back in your own workspace. And you’ll be better equipped to answer these questions if you’ve dwelt on them beforehand.

KG: What are some of the most interesting trends you’re seeing in learning at the moment?

Technology wise, undoubtedly one of big trends is the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in all forms – from algorithms, to chat bots, to the collection of behavioural data which is then used to alter somebody’s working and learning environment. I’ve been in this field for something like 35 years and for me, AI is second only to the introduction of the World Wide Web as a game changer in the way we live, work and learn.

However, our industry suffers from a persistent, lingering headache: the sense that learning equates to courses, and that learning technology consists only of forcing these courses through an interface, depriving them of the value of a trainer, and adding only a ‘click next’ button. If you look at the proliferation of great stuff that will be showcased both in the conference and the exhibition, the persistence of this nonsense is an embarrassment to our field.

KG: Learning Technologies has partnered with Fosway Group for the third year to carry out the Digital Learning Realities research, why is it important for L&D professionals to take part?

There are so many reasons why people should get involved in this research, but for me there are two key reasons. First of all, far too much of what we do in learning technology is based on anecdote not on evidence. Participating in this research enables the community as a whole to build a better evidence base. And secondly, the very process of sitting down and completing the survey forces us as L&D professionals to reflect and consider our practice which is something that is easy to neglect, but that remains a valuable part of our ongoing learning. Hundreds of people have already taken part this year and the survey is still open here.

KG: What are your hopes for digital learning in the year ahead?

At Learning Technologies 2019, I would love to be able to celebrate the fact that in 2018 we have escaped from the training ghetto as I call it. I hope we will be moving much more at the speed of the business. And I hope this is largely because we have freed ourselves up from the time consuming practice of building courses on demand and have shifted instead to delivering value to our organisations, based on the needs of short term performance and long term capability building.

Look out for the next installment in this series in my next Q&A with Fosway’s Director of Research, David Perring. Learning Technologies opens in London on 31 January 2018. Full details here. And you can follow all the action via #LT18UK.

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‘Twas the night before Learning Technologies 2018

If you’re in London the night before Learning Technologies 2018 on Tuesday 30 January, I’m rounding up any waifs and strays to get together, talk shop and meet fellow attendees before the event.

I’m reliably informed The Bolton Pub is about 10 minutes away by cab from Olympia (where Learning Technologies is being held). Hopefully I will be there from just after 8pm but if you get there first, get the first round in while you wait!

Head to:

The Function Room
The Bolton Pub
326 Earls Ct Rd, Kensington,
London SW5 9BQ

It’s all informal so there’s no booking required. If you tweet me @kategraham23 and let me know that you’re coming, that would be great. Look forward to seeing you there.

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On authenticity (or the Barbie Complex and social media)

I often equate myself with Barbie. No, not because I am a pneumatic blonde, but (bear with me) Barbie has lots of different facets to her character (yes, I know she isn’t real). So, there is Holiday Barbie and Work Barbie and Ski Barbie etc, etc. And I genuinely identify with her because I have lots of different parts of my life, different interests and different audiences to which those interests speak.

Why is this relevant you ask? Well a few months ago, I read two blogs in quick succession that really resonated with me on authenticity. This from Mark Hendy first, then this from Stephanie Karaolis. Unconnected, these posts came to my attention within a couple of days of each other and I had a strong urge to write something related, but I was also nine months pregnant and basically ran out of time…

So fast forward to now and this theme has been germinating for the past few months, particularly with regards to social media channels. Authenticity on social platforms is a much talked about topic and we have all seen the Instagram hacks like the below that supposedly show the ideal lifestyle but are actually a total crock.

To get niche about it (I like niche, niche is good) I am especially interested in the whole cross posting phenomenon. Tools like Hootsuite, of which I am a daily user, allow easy cross posting to different platforms but for a marketer (and Barbie Complex holder) like me, I am always reluctant to partake – despite the ease with which it’s possible to do so.

Social media and segmentation

Part of Marketing 101 is the concept of segmentation; identify your audiences and target them with tailored messaging that will appeal to their interests. Now I’m not suggesting everyone approaches their social platforms as a marketer (there is a whole other post brewing about marketing/selling via social media already). But aren’t we all on these channels to give people a little bit of what they want?

Originally for me, the segmentation was very neat. Linear. Facebook was friends and family. LinkedIn for work. Twitter was for work but possibly in a less formal style. Simple. But then…over time the boundaries have blurred for me. I am now fortunate to count a lot of people I have met through work as friends and these friends are now on my Facebook. So where does the line get drawn now? I am also on other channels now like Instagram and rarely go a day without touching Whatsapp (more on which below).

Cross posting

So, if the lines have blurred, surely it must be OK to cross post everything? Well no, actually. I also now have two children and I am unwilling to over expose them via these open channels. And as Stephanie discusses in her post, when personal circumstances change, our perception of what ‘good’ looks like and yes, what success looks like too, can shift pretty dramatically.

There is also the concept of dark social. This isn’t as twisted as it sounds (promise) and essentially boils down to the fact that things I might once have posted about via say, Facebook, I will now simply share amongst my closest friends via closed Whatsapp groups. And I bet most of you do that too.

Unwritten rules

It’s inevitable our use of these tools evolves over time because god knows the technology is moving at a heck of a pace. But for me the essence of the ground rules remains the same, if not quite the rules themselves. Facebook remains mostly personal and because I have it locked down (as much as one can) I feel comfortable sharing personal posts here and the odd photo of my kids. Instagram is almost all personal but shot through a bit of an artistic/creative lens where possible and because I am newer to it and have less followers there, I actually feel more liberated and less bogged down by the expectations of others there. But I still hold things back. I have another personal rule that I don’t post about politics or religion because I personally don’t wish to get dragged into debates on social platforms. And ultimately, I also think that some things should be kept just for real life. This doesn’t diminish my authenticity in my view, it just means I don’t lay it all on the line.

Now Twitter is something I am known for. I have been pretty consistent in keeping my content work related with a little bit of personal thrown in (a recent post about a butter dish garnered far more interaction than expected!) But it makes me laugh when some of my oldest friends follow me then ask me what on earth I am on about with all this learning and HR technology talk. I always tell them that I’m not talking to them and they’re welcome to unfollow me if they like…

Different parts of the same whole

I always remember a great learning influencer who happened to tweet about X Factor one weekend. Someone messaged him and said they couldn’t believe he could stoop so low as to talk about trash TV. But he responded by saying ‘if you don’t like it then unfollow me, this is part of who I am as well as the work stuff’. It doesn’t float everybody’s boat, but I love the random posts about cats and football and Sunday strolls and yes, butter dishes. It helps me understand who these people are. After all, one of the great benefits of a network like Twitter is its ability to breakdown barriers and let people engage in an informal way.

What’s at the heart of this post for me is that I can’t help but segment what I share and divide it up into the different facets of my life and post what will play best to which crowd. I don’t over think this, but I have a sort of playbook that I follow in my head. So, I don’t cross post as a general rule. But just because I am not always the same on each platform doesn’t make me any less authentic. These are all different aspects that are part of the same whole. Just like Barbie.

Intrigued to know your thoughts on this and how you view authenticity and use across your social channels. Any more Barbies out there?

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8 pillars of backchannel learning

This month I was invited to appear on Learning Now TV to talk about the value of backchannel learning. This refers to the learning opportunities that arise from providing a stream of curation from a live event then sharing that with people in the room and further afield (sometimes with folk on the other side of the world). To accompany my interview with Kim Edwards I thought it might be useful to summarise my pillars for providing a backchannel to an event. It doesn’t have to be a large-scale industry event like Learning Technologies it could even be an internal event. But the pillars remain the same

1.The live event

You might think that an event backchannel begins and ends with the live event itself, but that is only part of the story. When planning backchannel activity, think about each of these points so you can get the most out of it (and ideally the event organisers will have already done the leg work of putting together a compelling agenda with some great speakers and sessions!)

2.Choose your channel

A lot of the focus of event coverage tends to be on Twitter. It is a channel that lends itself well to events because of its real-time nature and extensive use of hashtags, but it isn’t the only option. Something I have been asked about a lot is internal events. So, it might be that L&D want to put on a series of roadshows internally, or it might be your company’s annual leadership conference – the principles of sharing and the value that people can get from that still stand. But clearly when it comes to internal events, what goes on tour should stay on tour – it isn’t usually fit for public consumption on Twitter.

But using platforms like WordPress or even your intranet have the potential to work just as well. Create a site or dedicated area that houses all the event information, including all the logistical information around the location, timings and session overviews. Then for each session, open up a comments area that lets people have their say on the content as it’s presented. And if it’s kept open, it can be used for ongoing reflection after the event. Also consider that sharing doesn’t just have to be done through short, tweet-style updates. Consider:

  • Live video can be done on multiple platforms like Facebook, Periscope and Instagram
  • Record video clips, short interviews and reflections on your phone then share on YouTube
  • Tumblr and Flickr are good for gathering photos and more visual resources
  • Audioboo can be used to create an audio diary (check out this from Martin Couzins)
  • If you are lucky and find someone like the talented Krystyna Gadd then these sketch notes add fantastic variety to the insights gathered on the backchannel

Sketchnote example

Don’t let the choice of channel limit the sharing process!

3.Signpost your audience

This sounds basic, but if you want to involve people who aren’t in the room then you need to let them know what’s going on and when. They aren’t there to hear your facilitator direct you to your first session or that it’s time for a coffee break. I always look at the event agenda and set up timed tweets in advance that tell people which sessions I’ll be covering as they start (Tweetdeck is a free tool, Hootsuite is better but I do pay for that). Also share when sessions finish and let them know that it’s lunchtime or that you’re going to have a nose around the exhibition. Your audience can then get on with their day job or switch off for a bit – not wonder what’s going on in the live setting.

4.Involve passionate people

David Ogilvy famously said ‘hire people that are better than you then leave them to get on with it’. I choose people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their subject and get them involved. They don’t have to have the most Twitter followers or be the biggest influencers. If they care about the topic they will share insightfully and usefully. If you are running an event with more than one track, try to let people choose the sessions they attend – the more engaged they are with what’s being discussed, the better the quality of the output. If you want more profile for your event, picking one or two people with a decent level of followers/influencers helps, but engagement and propensity to share matters more.

5.Create session hashtags

This is the most blindingly obvious of my tips but the one that is least used in event backchannels. Most industry events are a huge mash up of tweets from conference attendees, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors etc. Finding the key takeaways and main learning points can be like panning for gold as you wade through a sea of updates either during the live event or afterwards.

Creating session hashtags enables people following from afar to zero in on the content that interests them the most. And it helps those who look back at the updates after the fact to find out what happened in the sessions they couldn’t attend for example. As an example, at Learning Technologies I use the main event hashtag e.g. #LTSF17 and then include a short session tag to sit alongside it #T1S1. Brief your passionate people to do the same and let the learning commence.

Kate Graham session hashtag example6.Let it go…

Once the live event starts, face up to the fact you can’t control the backchannel. There might be dissent from the audience in some sessions, there will inevitably be a) spam and b) snarky comments if Twitter is your chosen channel (because that’s Twitter all over) and there might be perhaps more detail shared than you originally planned. But you need to let it go. You can’t control the face to face conversations that people have at the event and outside its four walls – the backchannel is no different. Recognise that there is value in the discussion and debate. I have had detailed conversations with people via Twitter as a result of a throwaway tweet in a conference session before now, and to be honest there was far more value in that debate that than the actual session content. Embrace it (although do block spammers – no value there at all!)

The other element of letting go comes in certain sessions that just don’t lend themselves to live updates. I remember seeing Professor Greg Whyte present at Learning Live and my tweets just came across as a bunch of sporting clichés when the fact was that there was great value in what he was saying. Professor Richard Wiseman who was so entertaining, was similarly difficult to do justice to in live updates. Jane Bozarth runs sessions around learning the ukulele and Deborah Frances-White often has everybody up on their feet playing games, both of which are impossible to tweet! That’s OK – just let it go. Tell your followers that it’s a tough session to share from, you’ll try and do a couple of updates to sum up at the end or maybe distil what happens into a blog afterwards.

7.Curation

Backchannel learning does *not* stop once the post conference drinks come out. Curating content from the event is something probably best demonstrated by David Kelly who regularly follows events from afar and curates links to book recommendations, videos referenced by keynote speakers, pre and post event blogs written by attendees…the list is endless. I had FOMO recently around missing an event in the US so I curated it here and was able to get a real flavour of the highlights and key learning points. It’s a brilliant way of being able to look back on an event you’ve attended and catch up with anything you might have missed. It also dovetails perfectly in with my final pillar…

8.Reflection

Learning isn’t about a single intervention. We absolutely shouldn’t be attending events without taking the time to reflect on what we’ve seen and heard there. A backchannel is not essential to this but it does help. Live events often happen in a whirl for me. I’m dashing between sessions, chatting to people in the breaks, looking at the exhibition, possibly even grabbing something to eat and drink at some point! I don’t have time to process the content and discussions until afterwards. And for me, sharing my thoughts via Twitter or any other channel has become a form of note taking. It enables me to look back at what stood out and reflect on what my personal takeaways are. And if others have been doing the same then you have the opportunity to reflect on their insights too before forming your conclusions. It’s all too easy to go back to your desk and get stuck into the dreaded inbox. But by setting myself the challenge of reflecting through at least one blog post, I find my learning is more concrete and stays with me much longer.

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