LearningLive 2014 – thank you

Thanks to everyone who made the Learning and Performance Institute’s LearningLive Conference last week such a success. Taking place at the fabulous new Etc Venue at 155 Bishopsgate, it was probably our most successful event yet.

Special plaudits must go to our keynote speaker Dr Steve Peters (of Chimp Management fame) who delivered one of the best keynotes for our field that I have ever heard.

And thanks, too, to someone who sadly wasn’t present this year. David Kelly has one again done a spectacular job with curating activity and resources around the event.




The Learning Journey 2014

Elliott with keynote Hillary Clinton at Learning 2013

One of the many positive things about being the chair of the Learning and Performance Institute is the chance to support great work in our field.

I can’t respond positively to every invitation and opportunity,  but do enjoy, where possible, supporting some great initiatives for the L&D profession.

One initiative I’m pleased to support this year is Alfred RemmitsLearning Journey 2014. Alfred is arranging for a group from Europe to attend Elliott Masie’s Learning 2014 conference and is surrounding the event with talks and site visits (including Sears and McDonald’s Universities) to make it a great opportunity to learn from fellow chief learning officers. Elliott’s events are certainly worth attending: the keynote in 2013 was Hillary Clinton. This year it’s Sir Ken Robinson.

Although I am delivering one of the talks –  21st Century Skills for L&D – I have no financial interest in this, just a strong belief that this sort of collaborative activity, where we properly get to know colleagues over a series of days, is a great way of building networks and developing both ourselves and the profession.

If you’d like to know more about taking advantage of Learning 2014, please contact Alfred directly. You can find his email and phone number on the last page of this PDF which explains the Learning Journey 2014 in more detail:

Learning Journey 2014

The Learning Journey 2014



Does elearning have a future?

What’s the future of elearning?

I’m not sure it has a future. In fact I argued against the use of the term “elearning” seven years ago and I still hold to that argument now.

But is there a future for technology supported learning? Of course there is.

This difference between traditional “elearning” and the future of the Learning Organisation (supported by technology) is something I’ll be talking about at 11am (UK) on Wednesday 27th August in a Google Hangout run by DreamTek, the experts behind the Learning and Skills Group’s webinar series.

The idea that “elearning” is a dead term is more than just semantic. I firmly believe that most learning at work is supported by technology in some form, but then so is most of finance, operations and sales and we don’t stick an e- in front of the names of those departments or what they do.

By calling what we do “elearning” we unnecessarily differentiate draw attention towards the technology element. We focus on the process, and we also somehow dress it up as something different, apart from the organisation, which is the very opposite of the truth of modern workplace learning.

As I’ll describe in the hangout (register here), almost all learning is now touched by technology at some point; and just as technology is now thoroughly integrated into learning, so the learning function should be totally integrated into workplace operations. Slapping the “elearning” label on it makes it appear as if it’s the complete opposite.

I’ll take a look at what Organisational Learning will look like over the next 12 months and in 5 years’ time. Previously,  I’ve really believed in massive change in learning because my entire working life the pace of change has been glacial.

Not any more.

I reckon that in 5 years the face of organisational learning will be very different, and never mind not being called “elearning”, it may not even be called “learning”.

The more I think about it, the more I’m looking forward to the event. I hope you can join me there. It’s the DreamTek Google Hangout on The Future of Elearning. It takes place at 11am (UK) on Wednesday 27th August and you can register here.

UPDATE —————————-

The Hangout went well – click to see the recording.

I look forward to continuing this conversation in the future.

A message to business leaders

I’ve just returned from a meeting at the CIPD’s headquarters in Wimbledon, London, where the CIPD‘s Andy Lancaster and Towards Maturity‘s Laura Overton led a meeting on the business alignment of L&D. As chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute, I was invited to speak and participate in what proved to be a very useful discussion, with plenty of great case study contribution.

At the end of the meeting we were asked what our key messages were to L&D and to business leaders, and the following popped into my head:

A  message to business leaders: “If you think learning belongs in the classroom, enjoy the view as your competitors overtake you.”

Returning to my desk I found it had been retweeted a few times:

I was trying to convey the idea that L&D is constrained by traditionalist managerial views of training, and that knowledge, skills and learning are now core to business success, all in a tweet-sized packed.

What would your learning message to business leaders be?

Why classrooms are like cans of baked beans

Classrooms are very much like cans of baked beans.

Baked beans are great, but a 415-gram standard tin is too much for one man alone to eat, and yet not quite enough to split with a friend and satisfy both.

Why do beans come in tins of 415 grams? Because that’s roughly one pound. Since its commercial origins in feeding the Victorian British Navy, the canning industry has long been set up to produce cans of this size and weight, meaning that the whole supply chain is standardized, with the humble tin can dictating arrangements for packaging, for forklift truck operations and for shelving. Inconvenient sizing or not, nothing can change all that, and so we get our beans in 415-gram cans.

Classroom training is the same. Classrooms are costly real estate. Justifying them means filling them, however inconvenient the size may be. In the early ‘90s a fill rate of six was acceptable in PC training. A decade later rising costs and falling profitability meant private training companies needed fill rates of double that number.

And if you’re pulling that many people together for a course, you have to justify their time away from the office and travelling. You can’t run a 12-person course for just 1 hour, so typically courses run for at least half a day, and usually one or more whole days. The result: content is regularly padded up or cut down to fit a teaching day, regardless of the impact on learning.

And that’s why classrooms are like cans of beans: they both beautiful illustrate how supply-side efficiency can trump demand-side effectiveness.

While it is now possible, in reaction to changing consumer habits, to buy plastic packs of beans just the right size for an individual, physical classroom delivery is not as flexible. You can’t shift the walls, transport people into the room faster, or easily reduce the cost per square foot. This is why the classroom, this legacy investment, continues as L&D’s default, regardless of its effectiveness, accounting for some 70% of workplace training activity.

Overturning the legacy will take time, but more flexible and more effective electronic alternatives are winning their place in workplace learning, and I believe that before the end of the decade we will see a shift. The classroom will only be used when it is the best – rather than the usual – place for learning.

Unlike bakes beans, learning is no commodity. It’s time it was done the best way for the learner, not the most efficient way for the L&D department.

This piece of whimsy was the introduction to the much more substantial Inside Learning Technology and Skills Magazine June 2014 (#49). Click to read the whole magazine.