Saturday, July 20, 2024

Blend it!: LearningPool’s Public Sector Learning Conference Successful Blended Approach

So, I’m back from the #pslc and now ready to give my verdict. It was certainly an eventful day, with mini croissants and lovely purple people! LearningPool staff were all dressed in purple t-shirts which made it easier to ask for help when needed.

Mary McKenna

Looking back on #pslc….

So, I’m back from the #pslc and now ready to give my verdict.  It was certainly an eventful day, with mini croissants and lovely purple people! LearningPool staff were all dressed in purple t-shirts which made it easier to ask for help when needed. Upon arrival, I was greeted by Janet Harkin (LearningPool’s Marketing Manager) and Mary McKenna (MD of LearningPool), who were really lovely and helpful throughout the event. Thank you ladies!

My take on the event as a whole… and on LearningPool!

Its amazing how I came to know LearningPool… to tell you the truth, I had no idea what they were really about prior to this event! But I’m a sucker for invites and decided to attend the event to gain a bit of knowledge and experience. Due to the limitations of my research, the scope never reached or was concerned on e-learning. But much to my surprise after attending this event, it is infact very much relevant to my research and I came to learn and appreciate LearningPools presence in the public sector through their customers.

I have taken a few videos with their customers (which will be featured on a separate post) that demonstrates how much LearningPool cares and delivers excellent customer services to their customers. They also have the ethos to accelerate learning in today’s new world and managed to adapt to the cultural change that is currently happening in the public sector.

As a research student who is an observer and has no affiliation as well as exact understanding of how it really is to work in the public sector, it was refreshing to see that there is a organization like LearningPool that can help the public sector to develop learning modules that are effective and can quickly be deployed with an exceptional help on demand. Don’t just take my word for it. Be sure to check out the videos from their customers!

Blend It!

It was also interesting to learn about LearningPool’s blended approach towards learning. It certainly is an effective approach as testified by their own customers. So before you get cooking, make sure you start blending all the necessary ingredients! Even the event itself was using a blended approach of presentations, showcases and masterclasses! Excellent!!!

When technology fails you at an event… what do you do?

Me and Frances (from Public Sector Forum) tagged up for the day to ensure we were able to cover the event successfully. Unfortunately the wifi connection provided by Hilton, London Kensington was far from adequate.  It was quite frustrating to provide updates on the event via twitter when your connection gets disconnected every 10 mins. Alas, in the end I resorted to using my own O2 pay-as-you-go mobile broadband which thankfully was already pre-loaded for the month.  So if you were thinking of covering an event via twitter or live blogging and you are unsure of the location’s wifi coverage, I suggest make sure you have backup!

The delegates goodie bag!

It was nice to receive a goodie bag when we arrived. It contained all the information we needed regarding the event, about LearningPool itself, exhibitor’s brochures, pens and a blue see-through piggy bank (which was really cute and cool)!  Lynn, who was twittering on behalf of @LearningPool did mention that the blue piggybanks were “invariably turning the conversation to swine flu – good ice breaker for delegates”.  Oh, also forgot to mention that there was a pack of wildflowers seeds in the goodie bag. Quite an odd addition to the bag but I can’t complain. I love freebies! 😉

Opening remarks – Paul McElvaney on eLearningLounge

Paul McElvaney

The event kicked of the Paul McElvaney, who I’ve just recently met in Manchester for the PSFBuzz event. He started the event by introducing the LearningPool’s new eLearningLounge which is described by LearningPool in the about section on the eLearningLounge website.

E-Learning is hugely important to the public sector. It offers the potential to help disseminate information in new ways, suit new methods of working and training and drastically reduce training costs. E-Learning Lounge is designed to be a discussion forum about the future of elearning in the public sector – what will it look like, how will we use it and how can we improve it. We invite you to get involved – comment, contribute, learn and most importantly, share. If you would like to contribute to the site then we would love to hear from you.

I am certainly an advocate for any online community that accelerates learning and collaborations amongst people who have a similar vision and are in unity to make better developments for the benefit of all involved. eLearningLounge is also twittering through @ellounge. So if you want to keep up to date with great ideas from people just like you, why don’t you join eLearningLounge. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Donald Clarke – Weapons of mass collaboration

I was lucky enough to catch Donald during the first break and capture an interview with him on his presentation. Check it out here! Find out why there needs to be a culture shift in learning in the public sector. See why social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are important for the future of elearning. And last but not least, find out what Donald on what he thinks about Twitter. You can find Donald Clark’s blog here.

Donald Clark’s slides

Major Roy Evans – The Ultimate Mobile e-Learning

I was really fascinated by Major Roy’s (@princeroys) presentation. Eventhough I consider myself quite a techy geek and love all my gadgets, due to my student budget/financial limitations, some gadgets are just out of reach for me! 🙁  So it was great to hear and see Major Roy demonstrate how you can use gadgets such as the iPod and Nintendo DS  for mobile learning in the army. Major Roy mentioned that mobile learning is leveraging existing technologies, for example uploading language learning onto iPods for the army in the field and making use of tech for language training compared to analog tools like flash cards, raises the expectations (via @ellounge). The thing with mobile devices such as games on Nintendo DS is that they engage the use to learn and accelerate their learning. It also encourages collaboration when you link one DS to another and can help facilitate peer support. So as Major Roy expressed during his presentation, mobile learning can be really helpful for active frontline personnel!

Evaluation of effectiveness

I couldn’t agree more when Major Roy started talking about evaluation of effectiveness. This is absolutely crucial when rolling out any type of new technology to ensure it delivers and achieves its initial goals before development. This is something Dave Briggs was talking about a few weeks ago on his blog on the importance of evaluation. Me and Dave are working on developing an evaluation for social media and web 2.0 strategies in local government, so if you would like to give your input, kindly get in touch with me!  I think the best advice that Major Roy have throughout his presentation was…

Teach less but give access to training, resources, learning in a format that they will use and digest willingly…

…repurposing, reusing, reworking existing content to augment (and trim down) existing training methods

Coming back to what Major Roy, he mentioned the key factors for evaluation of effectiveness, which are: –

  1. Initial student involvement,
  2. SME evaluation throughout design,
  3. Feedback from trials including questionnaires,
  4. Comparison with control group for analysis and
  5. Follow up evaluation using focus groups

Here is an example of mobile learning that I just found yesterday on how iPods are used for learning.


































Henry Stewart – Engaging learners and measuring the impact

Henry (@happyhenry) is the founder and CE of Happy who provide training in both desktop IT and how to create great workplaces.  So its no wonder that Happy is one of the best two workplaces in the country (Financial Times), best company in the UK for customer service (Management Today) and being one of the most democratic organizations in the world (Worldblu).   His presentation covered alot of areas on engaging with learners but what I thought was the most valuable point Henry made was the fact that ..

To really engage students you need to get them to create the learning

Which is possibly why throughout Henry’s presentation he constantly encouraged discussion amongst the audience.  He definitely demonstrated what he says, people create the learning.  They learn from their own and each others experiences and developed upon real life examples and problems. He also gave a  few links to websites that I feel you might find useful. Check it out

One of the other points that Henry made that intrigued me was how can we use blog/wikis/social networks to encourage collaborative e-learning? I’ve definitely been a long time and advanced user of all these tools. I remember the days where we were concerned with our personal data and how we can protect its privacy. But it seems that with the emergence of social networks, there is a new cultural shift on what we consider private and what we are happy to disclose to the public.

LinkedIn – The professionals social network

Let’s just take LinkedIn, we are putting out our CV for the world to see and no one seems to be bothered. This is because the benefits offered by social networks are limitless. You can get testimonials from previous employers, connect with past and current colleagues, collaborate across organizations for specific interests and career purposes. So its no wonder Henry was banging on about how blogs/wikis/social networking are making it much easier to engage learners in e-learning than in classroom training. He is absolutely right!

Charles Jennings – Building Successful Technology Enabled L&D Strategies

Charles Jennings

It was shocking to learn from Charles (Duntroon Associates) that US organisations spent some $135 BILLION on training and dev in 2007 – only 10% learning transfer to the job (via @ ellounge).  I knew alot of money was spent on training but I had no idea it was that much!

I guess since I was one of the early adopters of online communities and social networks, it almost seems ridiculous to me how much money is spent to learn/train these days. I practically learn everything from the web and social network nowadays! Especially since its becoming more difficult to retain employees nowadays, organizations must waste a lot of money on training to only have those employees take the knowledge and skills acquired through the training elsewhere. So it was very interesting to learn from Charles on how to build successful technology enabled L&D strategies.

New world thinking and learning?

A lot of people have argued that we are experiencing a cultural change in government organizations and from my observations thus far, I couldn’t agree more. At first the change was quite slow and quiet but the momentum over the past few months have developed rapidly and in order to adopt to this ‘new world thinking and learning’, we must understand how does this effect organizations and their employees. We also must look at what are the best ways to measure learning. Looks like another evaluation of effectiveness is needed here! 🙂

Charles outlined that we are working in a world with increasing VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complextiy and Ambiguity. His advice is to work within it. Don’t fight it! And since 70-80% of what employees learn is informally on the job, we must learn to adapt to it and allow flexibility and encourage ingenuity.

How is learning going to contribute to productivity, growth and strategic value that the learning function provides?

This is possibly a question that is on everyone’s mind. Well according to Charles, to contribute business value via learning, your L&D strategy needs to be business-driven, scalable, innovative, effective and efficient and cost constrained.  There’s a lot of tosh about learning by people who don’t understand learning. Learning is the ability to acquire experience, practice, conversations and reflection. Experience is really important in learning . Web2.0 and social media, allows interactive and a unique learning experience (via @PSFFrances).

Access to learning

Access to knowledge is now the key differentiator because learning is now ‘on demand’. People want access to knowledge wherever they go and whenever they want it. With careers becoming more demanding of employees time and value, professional growth is not only acquired in training rooms, behind your desk at work or even at conferences and events in lush hotels. People learn at home, on the train and while walking to their next destination. Which is why probably Major Roy Evans presentation on mobile learning will have a greater impact than we’d imagined. I for one, don’t have an iPhone or Nintendo DS but do carry a netbook with mobile broadband access to make sure I’m always connected.

Have a look at Charles slides

Learning Pool Public Sector Learning Conference Charles Jennings Final

Ben Page – The Emperor’s New Clothes

Ben Page

Its hard to put in words how much I enjoyed Ben Page’s presentation. Its one of those presentations that you just had to be there to fully appreciate its context and his engaging presence. But lucky enough I have his slides and a video snipet of his presentation to share with you to fully appreciate its content. Its filled with table and charts that I’m sure you’ll find useful. Check it out.

Ben Page The Emperors New Clothes

Hope this was useful! xxx
Liz Azyan