News report originally published in Training Journal February 2014

The Learning Technologies Conference and free Exhibition is widely regarded as the best Learning and Development event in the UK. Something to emerge from last year’s January event was a free evening session from LearnPatch. Building on that success this ‘fringe event’ was repeated for 2014.

Last year’s theme was Curation and for 2014 it was “Inside Out” whereby it was arranged for some of the Conference speakers to be available in a pub local to the Conference and Exhibition centre to speak to people on their particular topics of choice.

With five popular conference speakers there was a round robin approach, with about ten minutes at each table with the speaker. This means that, if you were one of the 30 attendees, you got to have some better quality conversation with someone you may have seen in a room with a hundred others or previously only followed on Twitter and their blog.

All of the conference speakers were popular and appreciated. One of the most talked about was David Kelly, a Training, Learning and Performance consultant from the United States. He had bought his Google Glass Explorers with him. They were very popular, with people trying them on, having their photos taken and experiencing wearable technology with David facilitating conversation about the possibilities for the future of learning, saying “we take old methodologies and apply them to new technologies. When I’m wearing Google Glass my hands are entirely free and that’s a very different paradigm.”

Julie Dirksen, also from the United States, spoke about Instructional Design and how design principles can come from all walks of life, for example neuroscience, behavioural economics and game design, commenting that one of the specific topics is “skills mastery, how do we develop skills over time… instead of a two day workshop.” Mark Bradshaw, from Avon and Somerset Constabulary discussed from his experience as Electronic Performance Support Systems Developer. He focused on performance support in relation to improving learning in organisations. Ger Driesen, CLO of Challenge Stretching Talent in the Netherlands, focused on his energetic view about artist Van Gogh inspiring people around the world and what his legacy can mean. Andrew Jacobs, L&D Manager at the London Borough of Lambeth, had conversations focused on disruptive learning: “You can disrupt, it’s not negative and it can be very innovative”.

People who ordered their free tickets enjoyed talking to these well-known Conference speakers, especially valuable if they were unable to afford the Conference ticket. There were also lots of other L&D practitioners and experts with various areas of focus winding down and enjoying conversation after Learning Technologies. Andrew Jacobs said of the fringe event: “It was really good to meet with people and have face to face conversation and talk about what they’re doing as much as what I’m doing”.

LearnPatch is a start-up media brand in the L&D sector. Founder Martin Couzins commented after the evening, “This year’s Learning Technologies fringe event featured five great speakers talking across a range of topics, from Google Glass to performance support and beyond. There was a great turnout and lots of interesting conversation. The feedback was really positive.”