Getting up close and personal

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Written by Debbie Carter and Laura Overton on 1 January 2015 in News

The eXchanges that are held at Learning Technologies are a great way to add value to your visit. Debbie Carter and Laura Overton explain further

When it comes to innovating for the future, L&D professionals have a fantastic opportunity to take a leading role. Today, many are looking to technology to help them respond faster and more appropriately to the needs of both individuals and organisation.

To do this, we need to look beyond the hype and excitement of new tools and approaches to identify what will work and what won’t.

Learning Technologies Conference (LT15) has become a fixture for L&D professionals looking for fresh ideas to help them modernise learning. Held at Olympia, London, at the end of January, the conference speakers provide a wealth of knowledge and a healthy dose of inspiration at the beginning of the year. We interviewed some of them in the lead up to this year’s event:

Garry Hearn, programme manager at the MoD, will be sharing his journey at LT15. He said: “At the MoD, we have made the shift from delivering our technical training using a residential instructor-led didactic approach and are now on a journey towards a blended learning approach, embracing distance and distributed learning, self-directed and prior accredited learning, as well as exploiting evidence-based teaching and technology-enabled learning.  This is a significant shift that just would not have happened without a significant change programme at all levels of the business.

“For me, it is critical that L&D are able talk the appropriate business language, including hard and soft business benefits at all levels of the organisation. This is just as true for the public and not-for-profit sectors as it is for the
private sectors.”

Transforming traditional training delivery is just the start. Clive Shepherd, director of Onlignment, said: “Employers recognise that learning at work takes place continuously, whether or not it is formally planned. Formal input is, in many cases, a necessary ingredient, but it is unlikely to be sufficient. There’s nothing wrong with courses as such, it’s just that we place too much attention on them and not enough on what happens afterwards. Knowledge may underpin competent behaviour, but it is performance that matters.”

One way of enhancing individual performance is to help staff to learn from each other. This is what happed at NatCen, a large independent social research organisation. Kandy Woodfield, director of learning and enterprise at NatCen, took a leading role in building a community of practice for staff to do just that. “Bringing people together to collaborate and share their expertise is a hugely rewarding process,” said Woodfield. “Learning is clearly a shared process and co-created learning builds on the knowledge and experiences of every member of the community.”

Social learning, communities of practice and now MOOCs are all influencing how we think about learning but how do we differentiate between the hype and the reality? Online learning consultant, Sam Burrough certainly has some ideas. He said: “Unfortunately few people are looking beyond the hype and the acronym when it comes to MOOCs. When we do, we find that they provide inspiration for organisations interested in creating rich social learning experiences that generate useful data about learners and your learning approach.”

There is power in hearing from individuals like Hearn, Shepherd, Woodfield and Burrough who have learnt (often the hard way) about how to impact business through learning innovation, but the insight comes alive when we have the chance to get up close and personal with the expert practitioners to quiz them about how their ideas might work in our own organisations.

This is why Towards Maturity and TJ teamed up to bring you eXchanges. Introduced four years ago, we now host the official Learning Technologies and Learning and Skills eXchange to give the learning and development community a chance to meet, network and collaborate at the event. eXchanges will provide a unique opportunity to interact with speakers from the conference and to personally explore how their ideas might benefit your company.

This year, eXchanges will be tackling some of the hottest topics in the most intimate of environments! There are only 10 places allocated to each eXchange conversation so ensure that your questions are answered and your stories are heard. Our focus is helping you take action where it counts.

The feedback that we received over the last few years has been unanimous – what a great idea!

Like all great ideas, it’s simple and straight forward, but incredibly effective. Each eXchange will take the form of an informal, face-to-face group conversation looking at answers to practical questions that will stimulate innovation and creativity in learning and development. The eXchanges will last for 45 minutes and each one will be led by an industry-leading expert who is speaking at the conference.

Every eXchange will give you unprecedented access to much respected industry leaders and conference speakers. Here’s your moment to air your questions, problems and even solutions to your peers.

You can see just a few of the speakers that you can meet at the eXchange in the box opposite but to avoid disappointment we suggest that you confirm your free space today by registering here.

Spaces are limited to 10 per session and priority will be given to learning practitioners. You do not have to have a ticket to the main conference to attend but you do need to be registered to attend the LT Exhibition.

Book your place or register for eXchange updates here

About the author

Debbie Carter is editor of TJ and Laura Overton is MD of Towards Maturity. They can be contacted @towardsmaturity, @lauraoverton, @trainingjournal


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