Is L&D shellfish with regards the modern learner?

Sorry about the fish joke, though it does make me halibut… But this post is about the “fishbowl” event focusing on discussion of the DNA of the Modern Learner, so there had to be some fishy references… Read an intro about the event here.

Despite a 5.30am alarm I didn’t make it into the London event due to train issues. That was very sad, but nice to know I was missed!

However whilst getting home I followed the back channel (the #PSKevents hashtag on Twitter), here are some highlights and thoughts:

Ger’s tweet with a Periscope video shows the layout of the event:


Some discussion about the event setup:


And pics to get a sense of the room from afar:


Starting off the conversation:

This is key in organisations now, not just for L&D to understand their “learners” but for a business to understand their staff – how they can work more efficiently and just get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.

Niall, also on the back channel, picks up the language issue:


Thoughtful question from Ger Drisen:

It’s got to be both, with social change, technology, economic climate and much more. It is interesting to think if one led the other at all.


Some L&D improvements needed:

This is such a key, to understanding that people don’t want to wait for a one day course when they want to learn something new. This is something that L&D departments still do a lot, the “menu of training”.

It’s not a blame game, there are many reasons why trainers and departments still do this, especially when something is so big and ingrained in the company understanding and culture. The larger the ship, the bigger the turning circle.


Modern learning is…?

I definitely like the idea of resources not courses and I’m building up Lightbulb Moment this way – to make sure people have access to documents, templates and learning nuggets when they need them, as well as access to their peers to learn from.

Google it and there’s plenty of research about how manager’s have a huge influence over their staff’s performance and therefore their learning. So for embedding learning, or learning transfer, they are essential.

An excellent point from Kim. One of the struggles I often have with trainer’s new to the virtual environment is that they don’t feel that they can ‘control’ the room the same way that they do face to face; they can’t see if people are in their email or away from the screen.

Another element of this with modern learning design is that my experience of people in the organisation that are rolling out learning and performance initiatives is that often they don’t want to relinquish the feeling of ‘control’ of knowing people have attended a class – face to face, e-learning or virtual. There’s a hunger to do learning better so that people can do their jobs better, but the idea of letting go and trusting people to learn in “new” (organisationally-speaking) ways is alien to them.

Trent Rosen shared a link to this article that gathers some research into modern learners, including an infographic.


At the end of the event I asked the back channel:

On a separate note, Niall tweeted this:

So a learning point about a live event which has promoted a back channel is that it’s not just marketing, but people really are engaged and thy need thought and planning too so as not to feel left out.


Hot seat too hot?

They way I understand a fishbowl is that people jump in and out of the conversation.

Maybe no one got into the hot seat as planned, but at least people in the audience joined in.

A fish called learning

On Thursday morning I’m attending the PSK Performance Fishbowl Discussion on the DNA of the Modern Learner in London. It’s running 8-10am, so that does mean a very early start to get into London for that time, but I’m sure it will be worth it!

The day is hosted by Trent Rosen, who is Director at PSK Performance. The panel include some well known L&D experts: Laura Overton, Nick Shackleton-Jones, Deborah Gordon, Ger Driesen and Sukhvinder Pabial.

What is a fishbowl?

From the description of the event:

The Fishbowl format is less heavy on structure, more emphasis on interaction and audience participation that fosters learning. Unlike traditional panels, the audience can join the panel at any time to raise a question, share their experiences, and even challenge the panels thinking on this topic. Or observe the conversations whilst taking down tips and information. Whatever your choice, you will learn something new as a result of attending.

There are a number of topics listed:

  • Keeping up with the Joneses; how employee expectations are mirroring social, demographic and technology changes
  • Designing learning content that stimulates and meet the demands of modern learners
  • Navigating through the maze of technology distractions and the overwhelming nature of change
  • Creating a modern working environment that is conducive to less traditional learning approaches

Of these, I think the changes are important when focusing on the modern learner; the stimulation needed in learning experiences (not that those experiences are separate from things like performance support); understanding that whilst there is a maze of of technology, it’s all about focusing on the performance and learning needs; and the modern working environment versus more traditional approaches.

Balance of the modern?

I think to balance this understanding of the modern learning leader there needs to be an understanding that a lot of organisations aren’t there – they aren’t in a ‘modern’ space. The argument, of course, has to be that the staff are often there – especially when we think about how people use their mobile devices for social media and communication. Maybe it’s time for the staff, with the aide of L&D to bring the ‘modern’ to the business!

I will of course do some Tweeting as @LightbulbJo, on the #PSKevents tag and maybe some stuff from @TrainingJournal too!

I hope to see you there, or tweet me a question or comment!

Read about the event in this blog post!

Making the most of your live online session webinar recording

In case you missed the sold-out Learning Technologies Summer Forum Conference session from Jo Cook, this was a chance to get all the same information!

Click here to watch the webinar recording.


The LTSF17 session description and what is covered in the webinar version too


Click here to see tweets of the Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2017 session.


Click to register for the free Lightbulb Moment webinars with Jo Cook!



Tweets covering the LTSF17 live online learning conference session

“Making the most of your live online session” was the presentation I delivered at Learning Technologies Conference Summer Forum 2017.

Click for LTSF webinar session description

LTSF webinar session description

These are the tweets that covered my session about webinars and the virtual classroom.

Ady Howes had a 360 degree camera and recorded the session. I’ll update this page when we have a video link!

My session was one of the last of the day, against stiff competition of conference Chairman himself, Donald H Taylor, as well as 702010 God Charles Jennings! I still had a packed, sold out room though.

As Kate mentions, each conference session has a person tweeting the highlights, which was the lovely Joan Keevill.

Many thanks to @Obhi and @Designs_JoanK for their tweets.

Remember to download the paper that goes with this session.

And you can also join us for the webinar version!

Conference content – how to keep your delegates enthused

I wrote a blog about a free conference I went to and how it was sales over substance. After recently attending the CIPD L&D Show in London I thought I would share my thoughts again to see what was done differently, and if it was better.

The same… but worlds apart


Both the conferences I attended contained a similar amount of people and setup; an area for exhibitors and different areas for the seminars. This is where the similarities end.

The CIPD L&D Show was not a free conference, though there was a free-to-attend exhibition and sessions. The CIPD L&D Show also opened up the seminars to experts and professionals who had real content and the passion to deliver it, rather than in-house employees.

Nearly all of the seminars I went to I came out of them learning something or going away with a drive to focus on something in particular.

Content not sales

The speakers would of course mention where they worked and their company or institution as it’s a great opportunity to enhance profile. They might mention throughout their presentation specific points of how their company did certain things but it was never done as a sales pitch. Passion was delivered and strong content provided, people would be able to go away and start trying techniques that had been offered.

I know for myself that I followed on Twitter and on Facebook the majority of the speakers at the seminars I went to. I found websites and put them into my favourite resources to go back and reference. Will I convert into a sale? Potentially. Do I have brand awareness? Most definitely!

Separating passion and sales

The CIPD L&D Conference was a great blend of the two; the free exhibitor floor had many companies trying to raise awareness and make sales. This was expected and if you moved yourself into that environment it was the mind-set you had gone into and were ready for.

On the exhibition floor there were lots of free seminars on offer. As I spent more time in the Conference I only saw the Ignite sessions (you can watch them all on Training Journal).

The conference sessions had passion and you could tell it was mainly about people who really wanted to provide some of the knowledge they had gained on their way to becoming an expert in their field or area.

Splitting the free exhibition and the paid-for conference made the conference feel complete and adjusting mind-set depending where you were was easy to do. The previous conference I had attended missed that – there was no divide between sales and content, a constant badgering of sales with next to no worthwhile content.

Knowing what people want


As a delegate we want to come away from the conference feeling the cost of the ticket was worth it for our own personal development and understanding. We take painstaking time to choose the sessions we want to attend because we are trying to maximise our own take away knowledge.

Delegates also understand that people and companies who have attended to exhibit have their own needs and requirements, cost to gain ratio whether that is sales or awareness for the brand.

We want the best of both worlds and can understand both sides of the coin.


I felt the balance at the CIPD L&D Show was spot on. I could flit between the two areas when I felt the urge, I could find like-minded individuals and get their opinions and network with them.

Content and passion and will always win over the hard sale and I saw a lot of passion and absorbed a great deal of superb content.

Conference content – how to drive away your delegates

A colleague and I went to a free conference that was hosted by a company in our business sector. We spend a lot of money on each year with this company, for many of our business and software solutions.

Some of what went on was good and some of it was very bad…

Hopes and expectations

In the days leading up to the conference I received various emails promoting the conference, guest speaker Blah the 1st from leading company X, guest speaker Blah the 2nd from leading body Y. I was ready to hear from these experts and gain from their knowledge and wisdom!

The itinerary detailed exciting workshops in the afternoon. I was upset that the two that sounded the most interesting were on at the same time and I had to choose between them.

The pre-event information had got me in the right mind-set and not even the train strikes, which meant I was forced to be packed in like a sardine on my way to central London, could hold back my hopes and expectations.


A good start with good content

The morning started off well, the expert speakers were all good, engaging content and providing really useful information to take away, I was scribbling away in my notepad ready to go back to my company and revolutionise what is quite a boring and traditional business sector.

I was really impressed with the passion and delivery from most of the speakers, technology was used well by some, getting people to log in with an app and provide live polls and opinions. It was a great example of listening to the questions the sector has, and then posing those questions to the experts whom delivered great structured content to the attendees.

Downward spiral

After a nice lunch the workshops started: 40 minute seminars that attendees were able to choose out of three on at the same time. In total they would get to go three of these sessions out of the nine on offer.

I was still hyped from how good the morning was. The workshop speaker came on and it was obvious the person was some kind of middle management from the company hosting the conference.

A faltered start, low production values in the presentation and a lack of enthusiasm from the speaker: the professional air from the morning was quickly evaporating.


Where is the content?

The workshop was titled along the lines of “how to update the marketing in your business, gain sales and not lose potential sales.” The talk started as a lot of these things do with some stats, a very blatant use of stats, “how many people view a website for a company before buying something” and “length of time someone stays on a homepage.” The stats were obvious, in your face, focusing on one aspect of marketing, (the website) all from the angle they wanted to talk about. My pen had not written anything yet.

A live poll was put out to the audience, “do you think your business needs a website?” Shockingly everyone said yes. I could see exactly where this was going: I knew the organisation running the conference had recently purchased a website design company so my mind had already finished the obvious presentation. I did still have some hope it would not go the way I thought it would.

I was naĂŻve to think it would not turn into a sales pitch, I had to sit through some more stupid waffle about how important the internet is and websites are, my pen was in my pocket and my pad closed and on my lap as I was talked to like a five year old and spoon fed basic information.

Sales without content

About 15 minutes into this “workshop” the sales pitch hit and went on for the remaining 25 minutes. My pad was back in my bag and I suffered through a sales pitch that was lacking any enthusiasm or depth. I felt cheated and lied to!

I can survive a sales pitch at the end if I have been enlightened with good focused content and feel like I have something to take away. When it is just thrown down your throat and obvious, limited content is used to try and dupe me into a sale is a poor showing indeed.


Unfortunately the remaining two sessions I attended were exactly the same and my colleague who attended three different sessions reported the same feedback.

I understand companies need to make money, renting out a venue in central London to accommodate 200-400 people and provide lunch for everyone for free is not going to be cheap, you want a return on your investment. But it needs to be handled better than this.

Being subjected to three lacklustre sales pitches with next to no useful content did not make me feel for a single second that I should take on these extra services the company was offering. In fact it had the exact opposite affect and made me think I would look elsewhere if I needed to resolve these issues.


Final thoughts on content marketing and conferences 

Good content is key! When it comes to these types of events or any kind of sales pitch if it is in person, a webinar or at a conference, the content will sway the person.

What was interesting in the way that they spoon-fed these basic concepts, skirting the main subject so much and providing so little content, it got to the sales pitch and I was missing a key thing to actually buy, need and want!

I wasn’t sure I had the issues they were trying to provide solutions for because they had provided basic stats, opinions and no content about it.

Free conference or not, I expect better and I hope you do also.