Jo Cook, an independent L&D specialist summarises her time at the recent Learning Live conference in London.
Learning Live is an annual L&D conference from the Learning and Performance Institute. It’s an event that has grown from strength to strength over the last few years, and the quality of speakers this year was no exception.
The first half day is free to all with a ticketed networking dinner in the evening and a second full, paid-for conference day. Both days have quality sessions and speakers on a variety of subjects. This year the first day started with a live Question Time debate, hosted by Nigel Paine. People were encouraged to submit their questions ahead of time, which Nigel then put to various experts on the panel. This was a huge hit and it prompted lots of discussion.
The rest of the day was split into streams of sessions based around themes: the future; performance improvement; the real world; and lots of business solution workshops. One of the key approaches to this year’s Learning Live with the Lecture Free Zone, which CEO Colin Steed felt was a “bold decision.” It was also a good one as by and large the sessions were much more interactive and focused on audience involvement than they have been in previous years. This meant that sessions such as ‘Credibility Through Curation with Martin Couzins had a lot of hands-on time where people experimented with different apps and websites to deepen their experience or the much discussed and tweeted Room 101 hosted by LPI Chairman Donald Taylor, where various L&D topics were debated about their banishment!
There was a fabulously decorated room at the networking dinner with much joyous discussion. The evening speech was from well-known Plymouth University Associate Professor about his own learning journey. There were some snippets we learnt about Steve, such as his days in a band as well as some of the key things that drive him about learning. It was, of course, also very funny.
They keynote of the first full day was from Jamil Qureshi, a speaker and author on the subject of maximising potential. Jamil delivered a funny and interesting session about focusing on our thoughts, our reactions and on helping people around us. For some this was a little too high level and they were left wondering “how” they can start doing this, for others it was inspiring and bought together elements they knew or had forgotten and reminded them to concentrate on.
The rest of the day was the hard choices between about 15 informative sessions on all sorts of subjects. Paul Matthews of People Alchemy spoke quite frankly about a new way of managing performance, by not focusing on the individual, but on the whole system around them.
Andrew Jacobs of LLB Lewisham energetically involved the audience in discussing why L&D shouldn’t be “aligning” with the business, but should be taking business strategy and looking at the tactics needed for delivery.
Julian Stodd of Seasalt Learning presented a lot of great ideas, frameworks and suggestions around social learning and the scaffolding that needs to go with programmes large and small. The last session of the conference is often a tricky one, but these were delivered with as much gusto as the first. For example, Michelle Parry-Slater of Kairos Modern Learning, changed outfits more times than I can remember in her history of learning, then got lots of reluctant people up and out of their chairs for some creative L&D thinking.
This is a conference that has promised much and delivered lots! Speakers were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the venue was accommodating and the discussion and welcome were superb.