TJ interviews: The eLearning Network's Joan Keevill

Written by Jon Kennard on 29 October 2019 in Interviews
Interviews

Joan Keevill talks to TJ about the eLN conference and the power of connecting.

Reading time: 6 minutes.

Before we talk about the event, tell us a bit about the eLearning Network

The eLearning Network or eLN is a ‘community of practice’ network for anyone involved in technology-enabled L&D. Our aim is to facilitate peer-to-peer networking and keep people up to date with what’s happening in the industry. We have access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise through our members.

The eLN is run by a board of 12 directors from across the industry. Directors do an initial two-year term and can stand for a further two years, but after that they have to stand down. This means there’s a constant inward flow of new people with different expertise, which is what keeps us current.

We’re going to have six vacancies this year and will shortly be opening up nominations to the board. To be a director, I’d say you need to be able to commit roughly a day a month to the eLN, spread across the months.

We’re mainly a virtual network, so we send out regular newsletters, run monthly webinars, run our mentoring scheme and are very active on social media.

In addition, we run a number of one-day workshops in different locations throughout the year – as well as our annual Connect conference – to give members the chance to come together in person and learn new skills. These workshops are free to members who’ve paid the annual £29 fee to join.

The eLN also manages the Learning Technologies Awards every year, putting together the judging team and ensuring quality standards are maintained year on year.

What’s the theme of this year’s conference and how does it differ from other events?

The title of this year’s eLN Connect 2019 conference is “Creating a culture of curious learners”. We’ve brought together a number of great speakers.

Nicole Bradfield has a wealth of experience in working with senior leaders and will be talking about the essential qualities needed to shift culture, what we have to ‘unlearn’, and how each of us can step up into a leadership role in these turbulent times and take responsibility for our own learning journeys.

Andrew Jacobs and his colleague Deirdre Bond will be discussing the work they’ve been doing to bring about change at HMRC.

And we have a range of speakers from industry providers and their clients, including Brightwave, Virtual College, Make Real and Elucidat which will run in parallel with three debates chaired by David James (Looop/The Learning and Development Podcast), Helen Palmer (Credit Suisse) and Barbara Thompson (GP Strategies).

Last but not least, Robin Hoyle will provide a keynote review of the day and lessons to take away, then we’ll move into the post-event drinks reception which this year is sponsored by Good Practice. It is going to be a fantastic day and we can’t wait!

You asked what’s different about eLN Connect? First, it’s a very friendly event. We build in dedicated networking sessions into the day, which we run like speed dating – it’s great fun.

Second, we promise that no one will try to sell you anything. We’ll have small exhibition tables there so delegates can talk to our sponsors but they’ll join in the conference as well and are happy to share their knowledge with everyone, rather than ‘compete’.

The eLN is perfectly placed to help its members make sense of this fast-changing world of L&D

Another aspect is the amazing value for money: the cost of the day for non members is just £140 (plus VAT) and this drops to £110 (plus VAT) if you take out eLN membership first.

This year we’re trying to do our bit for the environment by cutting back on printing and asking people to use the digital programme. Find out more and book your place here.

What are your hopes for the industry in 2020? What should we focus on, what should we let go of?

Looking ahead to 2020, I’m concerned about a number of issues. Adobe will stop supporting Flash soon and I’m aware that there must be thousands of hours of eLearning already out there that depend on Flash to run. Who’s going to convert them all? Will this tie up a lot of our existing resources at a time when more and more people and organisations are just beginning the digital transformation journey and need help too?

Are we doing enough as an industry to build the talent of the future? How do we maintain and improve learning design quality standards, and help people transition from offering courses to looking at the much bigger performance improvement picture?

Do we have the right consultancy and facilitation skills? Are we ready for the data tsunami, and do we know how to maximise its impact? These are scary times.

Coping with change – and learning to thrive during it – is a mindset. You need to be able to let go of the past and move on. But if you feel things are spiralling out of control, that’s when you get stressed. And when you’re stressed, your coping mechanisms are less effective, you don’t think strategically and you can end up spending too much time firefighting.

 



 

This is why I’m so passionate about the eLN. They say it’s no longer what you know (you can find that on Google in an instant), it’s who you know, so you need a diverse network of contacts.

The eLN is perfectly placed to help its members make sense of this fast-changing world of L&D that we’re inhabiting by connecting them to what’s happening and the people who are leading the way.

How can people L&D engage with the eLearning Network beyond 20 November’s event.

First, visit our website and join the eLN. If you don’t want to pay the membership fee right away, sign up for the newsletter for free. If you’re working in a team and your boss is happy to pay, then email us to set up team membership, which costs the same but we can invoice the company.

eLN Connect 2019 is the perfect opportunity to come along and find out all about us. You can purchase a ticket whether you’re a member or not.

Once you are a member, you can apply to join the mentoring scheme in which we’ll match you up with an industry expert for five hours of one-to-one advice and support.

You can also sign up for our webinars or look at the archive of recordings, and we hope to see you at one of our regional events, which next year will feature the annual Learning Technology Awards Showcase in London in March, followed by regional workshops in Birmingham (May), Manchester (July) and Edinburgh (September), followed of course by eLN Connect 2020 in London in November.

eLN Connect takes place on 20 November. Reserve your place here.

 

About the interviewee

Joan Keevill is chair of the board of directors at eLearning Network

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