Learning Pool Live 2016

Learning Pool Live was another ‘roaring success‘ for the company – even in its enlarged form having incorporated the MindClick user base as well all the ‘potential’ customers like me.

The event was, as in previous years, full of energy and good sessions.  Unfortunately I was feeling very rough so didn’t take as much out of it as I might have previously – I skipped the closing keynote to get some air – which is possibly why its taken me so long to reflect and make some notes!

David Meade

Like last year – a really invigorating start to the day.  The humour he brings stops this being too cheesy and it is a great start point for thinking how we can make eLearning as engaging as his activities/presentation.

I’d agree that, with the right establishment of environments and mindsets, change is possible.

Deborah Frances White

Another presenter I’ve seen before who is also always very engaging – including on her recent RHLSTP appearance.

The focus of this session was on some of the tweaks you can make to be better at communication, especially presentations, largely common sense but certainly some ‘ah yes’ moments:

  • not some kind of magic, most people are coached to be better – even the most polished communicators have developed their skills and charisma
  • can learn from the comedy circuit, new talent night is full of people who develop self confidence over time
  • if you want to develop your confidence do an open mic night, or karaoke…SOBER
  • corporate world presentations set a very low bar, can be relatively good quite easily!
  • weight on front foot for posture, avoid being ‘prey’. Act like the hunter: purposeful movement, decisive, don’t hide behind lecterns or furniture, etc.
  • PowerPoint should not be used to distract from you or the message
  • yes, be authentic, but not if that means being crap – be your best self
  • think how you want people to FEEL by turning up to a session
  • you are Lady Gaga – slides are back up dancers.

Cathy Moore

Anyone with an Instructional Design (ID) background will know Cathy’s work, indeed I used to reference her in my MSc papers.

Lots of valid points made, albeit that I’m more than aware I fall down on implementing this best practice [why included as sub bullets]:

  • design activities not information, activities to fix a real world challenge and use information as the evidence
    • I’d say the issue here is that SMEs often think it terms of chunks of knowledge dumps – whilst you sometimes get to the bottom of issues through performance consulting too often people struggle to articulate what they really do or how they need other people to change
  • if quizzing you’ll be encouraging short term memory for people to pass the test
    • yep, I tend to avoid this as much as possible.  However, it is one approach to ensure key messages are actually being picked up and I find is useful to check that someone going through a branching exercise still sees the bigger picture.  Also, pretesting is, of course, very valuable in relation to compliance and the like.
  • feedback in eLearning can be presented as from HR or another character – not just a ‘god’ type voice
    • yes, one of the best outcomes I’ve had working with a vendor on a bespoke project was where an ex-boss character acted as a coach throughout, effectively introducing models and information via feedback.
  • shift from ‘what they need to know’ to ‘what do they need to do’
    • I normally always try the second question but the challenge is moving sponsors away from the first position.
  • space the activities, with rising challenge if possible. Can cap off with live chat if needed to allow for discussion and reflection
    • I’m always keen to break things on an LMS but mobile is realistically the only way try spacing is going to work.
  • her action mapping is one approach to changing this, use with SME to ask questions. First question is ‘what is the goal?’ then ‘what they need to do’, ‘why aren’t they doing it’, etc.

e-Learning for Healthcare

Into the client case studies and examples with this one…

They have 20,000 learning objects but this focused on a particular project (MindEd) where the audience was less clear than some other pieces of content.  This led to a pretty exemplar ID project including bringing in a wide variety of stakeholders to the design process.  One advantage of this was to capture stories from people directly impacted by the issues and these testimonials became valuable narrative for the learning.  The end product was also more visual and designed for mobile, with rich graphic design, compared to previous work.  This won Adapt project of the year in the day’s award ceremony.


The particular learning team presenting realised they needed to accelerate innovation to avoid extinction.

Mindclick were also facing a challenge from digital agencies moving into learning – challenge to up their game around fantastic design.  Started to think of ‘players’ not ‘learners’ – create exploration where rules are clear and failure accepted.

Barclays UK academy set out their six user experience principles, meeting different profiles of learner they’d identified, and started working in more agile (less waterfall) kinds of ways.  One outcome of this is a secondary gamification platform that sits outside of their firewall but leverages the LMS.

Summary and link to slides: evolve to survive.

MindClick Gamification

Mostly another look at their Boots game – challenging the knowledge retention issues of traditional learning.

Summary: give choice, add element of risk, encourage healthy competition.  Keep it relevant though and learn through failure.

Apprenticeships: more following the October guidance

Having continued to reflect since my last post on this topic as well as taking in the October guidance (both through reading and a couple of related events).  It’s starting to look a lot clearer now…my current view on the three main options for employers:

Ignore it all together…

A lot of companies will continue to ignore apprenticeships as the 20% off-the-job and new division between providers and assessment organisations will not be as efficient as what can be done via other development approaches.

It’s not just about the levy – company’s existing training will have some level of value and quality.  I’ve always felt workplace learning, FE and HE need to be much more joined up and its good that the levy is starting to make people look wider than their existing silo, for example the OU working with people consultants from KPMG for a wider solution.

There remains though a lot of snobbery in learning, including:

  • from apprenticeship providers about the quality of non-accredited workplace learning
  • about the lack of skills in HE from FE and employers
  • the HE snobbery around degrees being of most value.

That the levy seems to be breaking down at least the last of these, via degree apprenticeships, and getting some cross-sector conversations going can only be a good thing.  However, as mentioned in this article, if the model is to be employer led why force funding for apprenticeships only?  And will degree apprenticeships get very far if even the BBC refers to them as ‘degree apprenticeships‘ as if a non-recognized qualification.

…or sub-contract…

There’s a logic in presuming subcontracting will be the most popular route with companies who have existing L&D teams but little/no experience of apprenticeships.

You would expect few will have met the short Skills Funding Agency deadlines at this enrollment window and even fewer will attempt the full employer-provider model this time around.  The October guidance suggests sub-contracting is a valuable (upto £500k per annum) way for L&D teams to save their companies from some of the levy ‘hit’ whilst putting existing learning into more formal structures. Indeed its also become clearer in October that the SFA sees investment in management information systems as essential for employer-providers.  This and other logistics may be a big ask for all but the biggest employers and you suspect sub-contracting well allow many employers to deliver the training they deem appropriate but leverage a provider’s economies of scale for systems, standards management, Ofsted requirements, etc.

…or wait and see.

The deadlines of late November for registrations were challenging (when SFA employer engagement events were fully booked in the run up) so the ‘big bang’ of the levy introduction (the event I went to said 500 companies had attended/booked nationwide) may well become a whimper for a year or two.

That the SFA needed to send the below note out on the day of the registration deadlines shows that there’s interest – even if organisations have failed to be totally clear on who is responsible for what in this new world!

The SFA has noticed that some organisations have submitted multiple PQQs despite clear guidance.

Organisations are reminded that only one PQQ route must be submitted. Please check that this is the case.