Saturday, 10 September 2011

Er... I'm speaking!

It's just over two weeks to go until Clive Shepherd and I deliver our session at the World of Learning Conference in Birmingham on the 27th of September.  We're discussing Integrating the formal, informal and social in learning, using Clive's book, "The New Learning Architect" as the yardstick against which I'll be sharing our experiences at FirstGroup, and then inviting thoughts, comments and questions from the audience.
It's been a few years since I last spoke at a large learning conference and a lot has changed in those years.  The focus has changed, the terminology has changed, the tools have changed and the discussion has changed. Just in the last week or so, the Institute of IT Training, of which I have been a member (and long-time Fellow) since its inception, has changed its focus and name to that of the Learning and Performance Institute.  And I've had a role/name change too!  When I was invited to speak at WOLCE and all the marketing materials went to press, I was the Group IT Training Manager.  I will stand up in front of the audience in our session and introduce myself as the Head of HR & Learning Technologies!  That's how quickly the learning agenda is changing.
As I write this blog, I am in the process of finalising the content and format of my short presentation for the session, the draft of which I have to hand over to the organisers on Monday. And here's where all those changes have come home to roost! In the last five years we have seen an explosion in the availability and use of Social Media site, tools and devices such as Prezi, Twitter, Facebook, Wordle, Smartphones, iPads, QR codes and the like.  Back then, I thought I was racy using MindManager 6 to capture feedback in a seminar session, and I'd never, ever, considered writing a 'blog', whatever that was...
Recently I've been to less conferences in person than I have virtually via the Twitter backchannel and I fully expect a high proportion of the audience who will be attending my WOLCE session to be the same.  But not all.
So, even 'tho I'm going to be talking about some SoMe tools at the Conference, I'm going back to basics and concentrating instead on the story - our challenges, our successes, our high and lows - and where we still want to go. I'm stepping back from worrying about which whizzy social media and presentation tools to use; indeed, as I write, it's entirely likely that the finished product will be on PowerPoint 2003, using our corporate slide template! (It will however, be 'graphic-heavy and text light'.) We will probably use Twitter to bring in the outside learning community involvement and we might even use the audience polling system.
What I do know is that I have a professional and organisational story to share, which is not yet finished.  I hope that the participants on the day - and afterwards - will empathise with my story, will learn something from it in and will want to contribute to it.  I don't have all the answers, and I want to learn from the collective wisdom in the room and in the wider L&D community, just like everyone else.
So what do you think? Am I taking the right approach? Are you put off by the thought of PowerPoint and corporate templates? Any hints and tips for me?  Any burning questions that you'd like Clive and I to deal with on the day?  All comments and questions welcome. See you in Birmingham.

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