Category Archives: Quick links and inspiration

Must-read information in the run-up to Learning Technologies

Whether you’re attending Learning Technologies next week or following what’s going on from afar, make sure you take a few minutes to read this invaluable blog post from Kate Graham.

In it, she’s shared a heap of useful information about the backchannel to help everyone get the most out of it – including some blog and website links you might need beforehand and a heads-up about the right people to follow on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out.

Kate will be adding more information about hashtags, speakers and practical advice over the next few days, so follow her on Twitter and visit her blog regularly (or sign up to the LSG site where she’ll also be posting).


Superstar conference tweeters, bloggers and curators

I wanted to cite a couple of excellent and experienced conference tweeters in my last post about preparing yourself for backchannel tweeting. So I turned to Twitter, of course, and asked for recommendations. I’d expected one or two names to pop up several times, but instead I got a raft of recommendations – some familiar, some new to me – so I decided to share the list in full for the benefit of any aspiring conference tweeters (or experienced tweeters looking to up their game!).

Some of these people are expert tweeters, others do more live blogging, photo-sharing or curating. Some do all of those things! Either way, these are all examples of people who are perceived to contribute to event backchannels in a really pro-active, consistent and valuable way.

  • AnneMarie Cunningham – One of the names that was new to me, AnneMarie is a GP and clinical lecturer so is in medical ed rather than corporate L&D. She was so highly recommended as a conference tweeter that I look forward to following her at the next event she attends to see what tips I can pick up.
  • Aisha Taylor – I had the pleasure of meeting and tweeting with Aisha at BP’s recent Future of Learning event in Houston. I loved how seamlessly Aisha brought non-attendees into the backchannel by referencing previous conversations or other websites, programmes and events.
  • Craig Taylor – Craig is the master of speedy end-of-day recaps. Whether it’s on his blog, Tayloring It, or his YouTube channel, he shares the two or three key points from each session and his own personal takeaways or actions.
  • Dan Martin – Another new name to me, Dan is (amongst other things) editor of and was recommended by Kate (herself an excellent backchannel contributer, mentioned below). He sounds like he knows what he’s doing with social media so, again, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn from him next time he live tweets from an event.
  • David Kelly – I have no doubt that, when he tweets from conferences, he does so brilliantly. But where Dave really sets himself apart is in backchannel curation. He describes himself as ‘a huge proponent of backchannel learning’ and his commitment to curating backchannels, even from events he hasn’t personally attended, is second to none. 
  • Justin Mass – I met Justin in the backchannel at Learning 2012, noticing his relentless enthusiasm and ability to capture the really resonant, retweetable soundbites. I’ve since discovered that he’d pledged to just share a single core learning takeaway at the end of each session, but found himself falling back into live tweeting, leading him to reflect on real-time activity switching.
  • Kate Graham – There’s a reason why Kate has become the go-to girl for backchannel organisation in the UK. She’s always aware of her audience and looking for new and better ways to share the event experience with her network. Most often, this is via Twitter and her blog, Learning As I Go.
  • Lesley Price – One of the most enthusiastic tweeters I know, Lesley can always be relied upon to inject a sense of the event atmosphere into the backchannel. She’s also a good person to follow if you’re interested in any tweet-ups that might happen.
  • Martin Couzins – Martin was probably one the first people I noticed uploading photos during conferences and events, as well as sending text-based tweets. He regularly shares round-ups and video or audio interviews from events on his blog, itsdevelopmental, and he’s also written about why live event coverage is so important,
  • Mike Collins – As well as presenting at a number of conferences recently, Mike always reflects thoughtfully and usefully on events he attends, and I believe has also ventured into live blogging – both on The Learning Asylum – as well as tweeting during events.
  • Perry Timms – I’ve not personally followed Perry as a conference tweeter yet but he comes highly recommended, and was also recently voted 7th in People Management magazine’s Top 20 HR Power Tweeters poll – so certainly one to start watching!
  • Steve Wheeler – When some people speak, you know you should listen. Steve’s one of those people. He’s much sought after as a speaker at conferences and other events, but his backchannel contributions are also worth following and learning from.
  • Sukhvinder Pabial – Sukh was another one recommended by Kate, an occupational pyschologist and proponent of positive psychology. Collaboration is a big thing for Sukh and he co-founded the L&D Connect community, so it makes sense that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to backchannel sharing.

Who would you add? If you know of someone who’s a role model for aspiring backchannel contributers, let me know in the comments below or via Twitter, and I’ll add them to the list.

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:

How to avoid common consistency mistakes

I recently mentioned the importance of consistency, and then rediscovered this article about common consistency mistakes. As the article says, ‘the first line of defence against consistency errors is simply being aware of them’.

So, if nothing else, be sure to check these 10 things before sending your next email or submitting your next document:

  • Phrases in capitals
  • Hyphenated phrases
  • Heading case inconsistencies
  • Numbers in sentences
  • List or bullet punctuation
  • Table or figure labels
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation in tables
  • Capitalisation in tables
  • Hyphenation of compound modifiers

The original article includes examples of each type of error along with details of how frequently they occur. I’m not at all surprised to see capitalisation topping the list – this is one of my biggest bugbears. I’m not a fan of excessive capitalisation anyway but, if you must do it, do it consistently!

The article does recognise that not all inconsistencies are errors – sometimes there is a valid reason for a phrase to be capitalised or hyphenated in one situation but not in another. Unfortunately, I suspect (and the study confirms) that inconsistencies are more often accidental than intentional.

This study was carried out by Intelligent Editing, the producer of PerfectIt, a tool which I haven’t used. However, I have had a play with their free online consistency checker. Upload a document, and it very quickly generates a report highlighting the type and frequency of consistency mistakes. It doesn’t show you exactly where the mistakes are, it doesn’t correct them for you, and it only checks for a handful of the common mistakes (for a full check of all inconsistencies, you need the paid-for tool; the site includes a comparison table) – but it’s a handy extra check.

Image: Nutdanai Aphikhomboonwaroot /

Five great resources for presenters

Does presenting come naturally to you? It definitely doesn’t to me. I’m a bit of a wallflower by nature and don’t usually enjoy being centre of attention. I think that’s why I enjoy writing: I can put a bit of me across without actually having anyone look at me.

The thought of speaking to a large group of people for any prolonged period of time (whether in a real or virtual venue) used to terrify me and still makes me nervous. But I kind of love the challenge at the same time. Over the past couple of years this is one of the areas of personal development I’ve really tried to focus on, taking every opportunity I’ve been given to push my boundaries and present. And do you know what? Even if things go wrong and even if I’ve never yet given the perfect presentation, I’m always pretty proud of myself when I’m done.

Anyway, I’ve now given a fair few face-to-face presentations (for the eLN) as well as a number of webinars (for IITT and LSG members). I’ve also just finished, and hopefully passed, the Institute’s Certified Online Learning Facilitator (COLF) course. I’m by no means an expert but because it’s something I’ve very consciously tried to work on I think I’ve pulled together some good resources for preparing and delivering online or live presentations. So I thought today I’d share some of the best.

I’ve used Olivia Mitchell’s presentation planner to map out my presentations over the past six months or so, and would really recommend it. I have felt more in control of the content, and people in the audience have also fed back positively on the clarity and structure of my presentations, which I would put largely down to using Olivia’s template. The site is also full of ideas and tips about preparing, designing and delivering presentations – it’s a great resource and one that I’ve referred to countless times since I discovered it.

This is one for the girls (sorry boys). Denise Graveline coaches female speakers and that’s what prompted her blog, but in fact men will find lots of useful content on here too. Some of the inspiring stories, speech analyses and confidence-boosting ideas are interesting, but what I find most useful are the practical tips for dealing with common difficulties that even the most experienced presenter can face, such as being confronted with a wall of silence when it’s time for Q&A.

I’ve just completed this course, provided by the Institute of IT Training. The course is delivered entirely online and is designed to develop the skills needed for successful facilitation of virtual classroom sessions – so it’s very much at the ‘learning’ end of the spectrum, rather than just ‘presenting’. The course includes some great topics, including slide design, storyboarding, maximising engagement and response, and using your voice effectively. Even if you’re not brand new to live online learning, this course is a great opportunity to practise and brush up on your skills.

If I find myself with a few moments to spare, I often have a browse of SlideShare and almost always find something that inspires me – slide designs that really work, and often some that don’t. One of my favourite contributers is @JesseDee – take a look at Steal this presentation! and You suck at PowerPoint! (for the basics) and 100 beautiful slides from Cannes Lions 2010 (for a collection of great slides by other people).

Finding the right images for your slides can be one of the most time-consuming parts of preparing a presentation. I don’t want to use basic ClipArt images, but I don’t want to spend lots of money purchasing flashy images from iStock or similar sites. FreeDigitalPhotos has a library which is extensive enough for all my needs and, as long as you include an acknowledgement somewhere in the presentation, it’s completely free. I used these free images for several months but found there were a small number I was using time and time again, so I splashed out recently and purchased high quality versions of those. Sam Burrough has also had the great idea of creating some kind of get-what-you-give image sharing community, so that could well provide another option before too long. Watch this space!

Image: jscreationzs /

A lesson in e-engagement from Magnum’s internet pleasure hunt

I just came across Magnum’s pleasure hunt across the internet and had to share it. Take 10 minutes today to have a go – I guarantee it’ll make you smile (and maybe also hungry!).

This is a great lesson in e-engagement. I was captivated from the start till the end – so captivated in fact that I didn’t even notice the score tracker in the top right corner until halfway through. I particularly love:

  • The layering of computer-generated images over visually interesting websites and videos, and the interaction of the two as she daintily jumps on text boxes and hangs from graphics
  • The beautiful and varied transitions from scene to scene, including diving into swimming pools, gliding across the sky and hopping into a lift
  • The freedom to explore; aside from a very quick navigation introduction and some gentle ‘jump here’ prompts, it’s all down to you to explore what is and isn’t possible

How great would it be to emulate this in an e-learning course?

eLearningLearning: a one-stop-shop for all things e-learning

With new bloggers popping up all the time it can be hard to keep track of all the good stuff out there, and sometimes even harder to separate the good stuff from the really great stuff. That’s where eLearningLearning comes in; it’s a community run by Tony Karrer and designed to collect and organise current and relevant content about e-learning.

I’ve been receiving daily emails from eLearningLearning for a couple of years now – regular round-ups of the best e-learning blogs out there, sent straight to my inbox. There’s even more content on the site itself, where you can search based on concepts, tools, companies and so on. It’s a goldmine of content on all things e-learning, and well worth a look.

If you do visit the site or sign up for the round-up emails, you may well come across some of my content; as of today, Good To Great is a featured resource on eLearningLearning (and proud to be in such good company!).