Quick links and resources from BP’s Future of Learning

FutureOfLearningAt the end of November, I flew over to Houston for a two-day internal conference organised by Nick Shackleton-Jones called ‘Future of Learning’. I tweeted a lot throughout the event, using the #BPFOL12 hashtag, and I’ll be writing up some of the key sessions and takeaways in subsequent posts.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to try and pull together some of the really useful links and resources from the backchannel: even though we were a relatively small group tweeting, there were a lot of websites, videos, infographics and tools shared.

I should say that this is almost certainly not a complete list. In my backchannel curation naivety, I didn’t realise that you need to get in there very quickly before Twitter erases all evidence of the hashtag stream! I did manage to find the majority of tweets on Topsy, but I’m fairly sure it was an incomplete record. If you tweeted a link or resource which isn’t mentioned below, let me know and I’ll add it in.

Conference summaries and overviews:

Resources shared or mentioned by Nick Shackleton-Jones

Resources related to Nigel Paine‘s session:

Resources and websites mentioned in or related to Greg Williams‘ session:

Resources and websites mentioned in or related to NeuroSky’s session:

Miscellaneous tools, resources and websites:

Three themes at Learning Technologies 2012

This year’s Learning Technologies event was a bit different from previous years for me. In the past, working for a supplier, I’ve spent most of my time on the exhibition floor – although I gained something new from the experience each year. This year, though, I was able to really experience the conference as a delegate and a track chair.

Don Taylor and the team pulled off a bit of a coup with three impressive keynote speakers, along with a varied programme of topics and presenters. I’ve got pages of notes I want to look back over to help consolidate my takeaways and follow-up actions, but as I reflect on the two days there are three overarching themes that stick out for me.

  • Creativity and innovation don’t just happen – they require a conscious effort and a willingness to challenge the status quo. We as L&D professionals have a responsibility to question, rather than accept, the way things have been done before and find ways to generate and drive forwards new ideas.
  • We mustn’t lose sight of who we are designing learning solutions for – the users. It’s all too easy to give in to business requests for ‘click Next to continue’ e-learning or to allow dense, dry subject matter to become an excuse for ‘crapathy’. Keeping the end users front and centre in mind helps to deliver engaging, effective learning.
  • Sometimes, a back-to-basics approach is the right one. Edward de Bono held a full auditorium in the palm of his hand armed only with an armchair, OHP and pack of coloured pens – demonstrating that, in a world of flashy gadgets and ever-changing technology, less can indeed be more.

There is no shortage of blogs and articles out there already reflecting on Learning Technologies 2012 (and I’ll be adding more of my own over the next few days and weeks). I’d recommend following Kate Graham, the event’s official rapporteur, to make sure you don’t miss the best of the bunch.

I’m interested to know whether the three themes that stuck out for me were the same for other people – do we all take away different messages from these events depending on our roles, interests and pre-existing ideas, or are there a few broad themes that defined the conference for all attendees?

Innovation and butterfly moments: evolution, not revolution

Last week I attended an LSG webinar given by James Cory-Wright from Brightwave on continuous design innovation. James set out 10 ways to improve the learner experience in e-learning, which I’ll recap in another post, but what really tickled me was the idea of ‘butterfly moments’.

Everyone has a slightly different understanding of what innovation is. For some people it’s about technology, for others it’s about design, for others it’s a combination of both and for yet others it’s about something different altogether.

But for many people, I think, it can be a slightly daunting prospect. It’s a bit like creativity – if you’re specifically charged with being creative, it’s just a matter of time until writer’s block (or the relevant equivalent in your line of work) sets in. Likewise, if you’re specifically charged with being innovative, it can suddenly seem that everything you come up with has been done before.

But innovation doesn’t have to be big bang stuff. As James explained, sometimes it’s the littlest things that have the biggest impact – just like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can supposedly cause meteorological havoc on the other, hence James’ lovely little term: butterfly moments. Butterfly moments are the small tweaks and modest ideas that have a positive impact on the user experience.

This means that innovation isn’t always about coming up with something brand-new and ground-breaking. It also means that you shouldn’t be at all afraid of building on something that has been done before. For example:

  • I remember a lecturer telling us about a paper she wrote and a subsequent review which declared that her paper had inserted ‘a sliver of originality’ into the area of study. She was disappointed, until she realised that actually that’s all any (well, most) of us can do, and that even a mere sliver of originality is valuable in moving things forward.
  • The original iPod was undoubtedly one of those big bang innovations. But some of the features that have made the biggest difference to how we listen to music have been relatively small tweaks and updates along the way – like the shuffle feature.
  • When I attend a conference or webinar or read a blog, I don’t expect revolutionary ideas every time. Instead, I look forward to a slightly new take on an old idea, or indeed the same idea just put a different way. Sometimes this is all that’s needed to help things click into place and spark a little creativity in my own mind.

When you look at it this way, innovation suddenly becomes much less intimidating and much more achievable, doesn’t it? Not just for us, but also for our users. Without the strong ‘pull’ factor of many products and services we use through choice in our personal lives, turning the whole model of e-learning on its head is likely to daunt and intimidate users. On the other hand, small and subtle modifications mean that users benefit from continuous innovation and improvement but are brought painlessly along on that incremental journey.

Yes, some of us probably are born innovators, able to revolutionise technology or learning or whatever it might be. But not all of us can be revolutionaries, and nor should we be. Evolution – incremental innovation – is every bit as important.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net