Notes from the Learning Practitioners Forum

Posted by on June 17, 2010 in geeky stuff | 0 comments

Notes from the Learning Practitioners Forum

I attended the Element K Learning Practitioners Forum at the start of June, a ½ day event in central London with some excellent speakers.

The focus of the event was e-learning and learning technologies. I’ve had a couple of people ask for a copy of my notes, who were unable to attend, or who saw my tweets and wanted to know more and so I’ve (finally, sorry!) typed up my notes here.

All of the talks were excellent;  there were a few key topics I was listening out for and I’ve paraphrased the bits from those talks I especially took away and added some of my notes to them.

NB: Quotes are in “double quotes” my notes are in italics.

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Matthew Poyiadgi, CompTIA @mattpoy

Social Media is just a fancy way to describe the zillions of conversations that are happening online.
I hate giving things a badge like “social media” it’s evolution to me, not some new mythical beast that no-one understands.

Successful models usually give content away for free, with only 5 or 10% paying users funding the service. How could this work for you?

Example: Monty Python gave away good quality, well edited short clips on youtube to replace all the fan clips that were often in bad quality… and increased their video sales by 23,000% that year.

“There is currently 6.6 billion people on the planet sending 6.7 billion texts a day.“
The short message format is king and it’s here to stay… I’ve always argued it’s a trend, not a fad.

“If we build the people, they’ll build the business.”
B. Wise, Tupperware in 1953

A frequently quoted barrier to training is:

“What if we train people and they leave?” → “What if you don’t and they stay?”

Quote of the day! I live-blogged a few bits and this quote had by far the most RT’s.

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Mike Pilbeam – VP Sales and Technical Operations at Cisco.

Cisco have fully embraced social networking within their company. Their business is driven by web traffic, they extol the value of social networking to their clients so it is logical for them to fully embrace social networking within their business.

The approach is to try everything, always say yes. Then allow the people to act as filters through ranking.  Around 30% of ideas tried, didn’t work.

So how do you create a balance of new approaches and technology with skills and experience?

closed loop mentoring

How closed loop mentoring benefits all:

Gen X – content is you
Gen Y – content is separate to the individual

Gen X – if you can’t hand off, you can’t take more on
Gen Y – Shares naturally

There is a lot that both sides can learn from each other about their approaches to learning.

Cisco loves bandwidth, so they largely replaced email with video within their organisation for internal learning – they found they saved time as people presented short videos, which were easier to understand. The scheme was so successful they now use it with some of their suppliers too*.

“Enablement is all about collaboration”

It is equal parts :

  • people
  • content
  • community

“Enable people to be lazy, make it easy to find, consume and publish”

Developing new training:


  • Every possible answer exists somewhere in the company, in an email, someone’s head or in a piece of content – the challenge is there are multiple answers, some good, some bad.
  • “If it works, polish it… if it doesn’t bin it”
  • Good ideas/guides/content will be formalised into training, bad/poor content is deleted.


  • People liked gaining stars for their content so they wrote good content.
  • Demand for self-branded and customised learning/learner interfaces grew as adoption grew.
  • Key to success becomes content + lenses and not your imposed filter.
  • Learning and development culture has to be informal.

Systematic re-use of content is encouraged – designs, technology, information and content. Where possible all content is recycled.

Flip video cameras are used for team updates, short, quick to produce video content replaces longer emails.


  • Resistance to using new technologies


  • Find thought leaders, the people whom others turn to to find answers and use subject matter experts as moderators.
  • Able to interact with the forum via email, subscribe to topics and reply. Through time, those who used it via email moved to using the forum directly.

*It’s also interesting to see some details of Quad start to appear, if you haven’t seen this yet it’s worth a look. From first glance it’s a real-time LinkedIn with Video.

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And a Springer’s final thought” from the round table discussion:

Why does eLearning have a higher take up in the US?

Culturally in the US training is paid for by the individual and self directed, take up of e-learning is 4x higher… when the downturn hit, e-learning usage on Sundays rocketed… co-incidence?

Hope this is useful, if you’d like me to clarify anything please leave a comment.

Thanks to Kelly at Element K for organising a great forum, I look forward to the next one.

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