A day in the life of an E-learning Awards judge

As part of my role with the eLearning Network, I am fortunate enough to have been a judge on the panel for the annual E-learning Awards for the past three years. When Chair of the Judges, Tony Frascina, asked if I’d like to participate again this year, I didn’t hesitate in accepting. And why would you hesitate you might ask? Well actually, it’s not a task to be taken on lightly. This post aims to show a little of what goes into judging just one category and highlight the rigour and challenges that come with being given this great responsibility.

I thought it would be fun to bring a flavour of the judging experience via Periscope and have saved the videos here to share with you and give you a little of the inside track.

Disclaimer: Due to the sensitive nature of the judging process, I have deliberately omitted the specifics of which category I was judging and of course any details of the entries involved. This post is written with the intention of telling a story of the overall process, not the particulars of the submissions I have judged.

At the beginning of August, every judge is assigned a category and receives copies of all the submissions entered within that category by the deadline of 31st July. Last year I judged two smaller categories, this year I had one larger one. Each panel consists of three judges with one chair who co-ordinates the shortlisting process. I was nominated as chair this year, so early on in the process set a date with the other two judges in my category to run through the submissions and aim to create our shortlist.

As someone who has written a *lot* of award entries, I really appreciate how much effort goes into writing them. So I always set aside plenty of time during my evenings and weekends to read the submissions and go through the scoring process against the set criteria. All judges give up their time for nothing and have to fit in their duties around their day jobs and it can be quite labour intensive. After making my own judgements, each entry was discussed in turn during conference calls with my fellow judges. We then submitted our shortlist towards the end of August and wrote (hopefully constructive) feedback for each of the unsuccessful submissions. There is then a gap of three weeks until the judging presentations.

It’s not all glamour…
Judging can involve early starts and for many, a fair distance to travel into London for the presentations.

An appropriate venue
Regular readers will be aware of my love of cricket, so arriving at The Oval where the judging presentations were held was no hardship. They even organised a little match for us between Surrey and Northants where the legendary Sangakkara scored a century. Upon arrival, each panel sets up camp in their own room and is given their schedule (run with military precision by the excellent Kate Vose) and fresh scoring sheets complete with all the criteria and scoring guidelines.

We then spent an intense two days hearing from some of the brightest and best in L&D. More of which later. During the breaks, the judges get a chance to mingle with those involved in other categories although there’s an unspoken code that the contents of the presentations are never discussed. I managed to catch eLN Chairman, John Curran, at lunch for his insights as a judge of many years.

After an intense two days…
I arrived home on Thursday evening exhausted! The travelling and early starts aside (5.30am on day two) it is the sheer ongoing concentration and focus required to give every presentation its due that is frankly, extremely tiring. But as well as being tired, I know was not the only judge to come away buzzing with excitement about some of the stories and innovation I had seen and heard. I tried to reflect on all of this when I got home.

Learning that is social, collaborative, innovative, technology-driven and part of people’s workflow. Have we reached L&D Mecca? Maybe not quite yet, but as the cream of the crop, these award entrants can show others how it’s done. I’d like to offer massive congratulations to everyone who entered, was shortlisted and those future winners at the awards evening in November. I can’t wait to share your stories and let the learning continue.

To find out more about judging and the eLearning Network, visit the website, become a member and get involved. I have no vested interest in saying that other than as a committed member and enthusiast.


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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