First proper post

So I had my first proper blog post all lined up in my head.  But given the fact that I had an extra special Friday night, I’ve decided to postpone that for now and write about something else instead.  I was lucky enough on Friday evening to go to the O2 Arena in London to watch Jamiroquai in concert.  Jay Kay really is an amazing performer – he was fantastic live!  If you’ve never seen him play and you get the chance, go!  My friend also got backstage tickets which was pretty great and whilst we didn’t bump into the man himself, we did get the red carpet treatment, so was well worth it.

On the boat, heading to the O2

On the boat, heading to the O2

Backstage!

Backstage!

Not exactly front row though...

Not exactly front row though...

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s the relevance of all this you ask? Well, apart from wanting to tell you all about my great night (!) I have a learning related anecdote to impart on the back of this fabulous evening.

We travelled to the O2 down the Thames on the Clipper boat.  Once we had boarded and made ourselves comfortable, the captain’s voice came over the tannoy to tell us all about the obligatory safety notices.  However, rather than reel off a list of boring dos and don’ts, this chap turned what should have been a fairly dull 5 minutes into a bit of a comedy routine.  Clearly he has to do it several times a day so has decided he might as well make it entertaining.  But crucially, everyone on board that boat was paying attention when he told us that with the boat travelling at 65mph, we really didn’t want to accidentally fall overboard and be left ‘cold and alone’ in the Thames.  So despite people’s giddy excitement before the concert, many of them sipping champagne (myself included!) the captain was able to get his message across, loud and clear.

And that was because everyone there was engaged with the captain.  He made the effort to talk to his audience in a way they appreciated and on a level they all understood.  I made the observation to the friend I was with (who works as a project manager for a large telecommunications company) what a difference it makes when people are engaged, rather than being forced to listen to a list of boring announcements made without interest or passion.  She then proceeded to tell me about how she ‘had’ to do ‘a load of e-learning’ this week ‘just to keep her boss happy’.  This obviously sparked my interest and I asked her what the e-learning topic was.  Knowing the industry I work in, she duly rolled her eyes and said it was about negotiating skills,  but that ‘to be honest’ she finds the e-learning boring and just skips through the screens and tries to answer the quiz at the end ‘as best she can’ in order to pass the module and ‘get on with her work’. 

Dear reader, it’s this that prompted me to change the content of my first proper blog post.  Someone, somewhere in my friend’s organisation has hopefully tried and tested this e-learning.  It’s an off-the-shelf module as opposed to a bespoke piece of content but no matter, it’s still content they felt comfortable sharing with their employees.  This someone felt the e-learning would be appropriate, relevant and useful to her as part of her on-going development in her role as a project manager.  Also, someone, somewhere created that e-learning thinking it would help people’s skills and to grow and prosper in their career.  So why isn’t it working?

As my day-to-day role is that of a marketer, I feel incredibly strongly about the levels of communication between an organisation and its learners.  I believe that the success or failure of many learning interventions depends on the engagement  of the learner and whole heartedly agree with Lars Hyland’s ‘Campaign vs Course’ philosophy.  With a little bit of thought, care and yes, marketing, any training or e-learning course can be more of a success as long as it is targeted, timely, relevant and useful.   If my friend’s manager had perhaps encouraged her a little more and explained the benefits of the course to her, or positioned the e-learning as something helpful as opposed to something mandatory, she might have actually taken her time and absorbed the learning and maybe even (shock, horror) enjoyed it!  Just in the same way as the entertaining captain of the Clipper boat managed to hold everyone’s attention and made sure they learned how to behave on board, despite the noise, champagne and general merriment. 

e-Learning seems to continue to suffer from a less-than-stellar reputation and stories like this one from my friend are sadly not uncommon.  But the L&D professionals I am privileged to know, work really hard to try and engage their learners – so why the disconnect?  This is a theme I am very much hoping to explore in this blog.  And it’s why I have chosen it as my first proper post.  I don’t have all the answers but I’m looking forward to trying to find them out and would welcome any thoughts and comments you might have to offer on this subject.

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About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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11 Responses to First proper post

  1. Kate, great first blog – I really enjoyed reading it. It certainly engaged me. What you identified in the announcer’s manner which succeeded in engaging you on what could have been a dry but necessary topic, was emotional intelligence, something I wish was used more than it currently is in the world of Work, Life and the Universe.
    Well done and I look forward to reading more.
    Mandy

    Like

  2. Craig Taylor says:

    Hi Kate..

    … and welcome to the Blogosphere!

    You and I have spoken many times on this subject so it will come as no surprise to hear that l completely agree with your thoughts.

    An analogy that I used recently with a colleauge of mine was the ever faithful ‘jigsaw puzzle’.

    There are many pieces required to successfully complete the jigsaw. Yes, some pieces appear to be more important than others i.e. those that help to visuals the key theme of the jigsaw (the course(s)) but the pieces around the edges are also key.

    Those pieces could be poster campaigns, podcasts, video interviews, facts & figures, case studies, good old fashioned conversations – all structured in such a way as to frame the piece of formal learning itself and put into context.

    In fact, I’ve discovered that if the campaign is structured well enough that the piece of learning just becomes an incidental piece of the jigsaw and slots into place nicely!

    I hope your J-Kay colleauge takes a look at this blog post of yours and that it challenges her/her Orgs way of thinking!

    Bye-eeee!
    Hi Kate..

    … and welcome to the Blogosphere!

    You and I have spoken many times on this subject so it will come as no surprise to hear that l completely agree with your thoughts.

    An analogy that I used recently with a colleauge of mine was the ever faithful ‘jigsaw puzzle’.

    There are many pieces required to successfully complete the jigsaw. Yes, some pieces appear to be more important than others i.e. those that help to visuals the key theme of the jigsaw (the course(s)) but the pieces around the edges are also key.

    Those pieces could be poster campaigns, podcasts, video interviews, facts & figures, case studies, good old fashioned conversations – all structured in such a way as to frame the piece of formal learning itself and put into context.

    In fact, I’ve discovered that if the campaign is structured well enough that the piece of learning just becomes an incidental piece of the jigsaw and slots into place nicely!

    I hope your J-Kay colleauge takes a look at this blog post of yours and that it challenges her/her Orgs way of thinking!

    Bye-eeee!

    Craig

    Like

  3. Kate – like Craig, I totally agree.

    Elearning, even when it’s done well (and that’s not often!) has often fallen at the first hurdle… it’s something we’re told to do, is hard to get to, and has little to do with my current, immediate needs.

    We really do need to learn from the successful online marketing organisations like Apple and Amazon – and make people feel good about formal learning.

    Cheers,

    Mark

    Like

  4. And you’re off! 😉 Great first post, Kate. I look forward to reading many more.

    I really wish people who put Cathy Moore’s head on when designing or evaluating e-learning … learning should be an EXPERIENCE, not a chore. If you’re not feeling it as such, then it isn’t working.

    Like

  5. Colin Steed says:

    Wow! What a natural blogger you are Kate. Fantastic stuff here and I particularly liked the way you told a story. Best way for people to learn. Absorbing and engaging. Well done

    Like

  6. Gill Chester says:

    Great first post….as Colin said…engaging story and interesting topic.

    As an elearning professional its very depressing to think about the hours you spend worrying about the treatment, navigation, imagery and even wording of a learning object only to hear tales like this but its all too common. I agree the answer lies in a bigger picture approach but I also think more can be done by designers and developers (like myself) to engage people with the content if we are allowed by those commissioning it.

    Anyway, looking forward to reading about your journey of discovery and more importantly the answer/s you find.

    Like

  7. tuppymagic says:

    Hi Kate, I enjoyed reading your first blog and want to congratulate you on taking the plunge. I know how daunting it is having just done the same thing a few hours earlier!

    I can immediately relate to the message in here! It really frustrates me when people get hold of or develop e-learning content as a quick fix without taking true consideration to the learners needs and how that content will engage and support them. When this type of tick box approach slips through the net it also de-values the work of those who do care about enagement and the learners experience!

    Looking forward to your next blog!

    Like

  8. Andy Wooler says:

    Great start Kate! I also loved the way you used a non learning experience and found the learning in it. (I’ve tried a few like that in my own blog)

    Like

  9. I also enjoyed this post Kate. I just don’t understand why we seem to so often fail in ensuring that there are mechanisms in place to evaluate the e-learning we develop. Surely it makes sense to gather some feedback from those who have completed the training? That way, we can hopefully start to learn more about what is (and isn’t) engaging our audience. This may contribute towards ensuring that the training is adding real value, rather than been seen as something that is ‘getting in the way of the work’.

    I’m looking forward to your future posts!

    Like

  10. Graham Frost says:

    Fantastic first post – love it and please let’s read more! 🙂

    Like

  11. Damian Farrell says:

    Hi Kate
    Great first blog post – brings up many of the issues in my company. However, over the past year our design team are gradually realising the necessity to think more deeply about how we put e-learning together. This, along with separation from our parent company will give us lots of opportunities to put our theories into practice!

    Look forward to hearing the podcast from Craig…

    D

    Like

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