Thursday, June 11, 2009

Learning and Skills Group conference

On Tuesday (ignore the date on the photo - my camera is having a bad hair week), I attended the Learning & Skills Group conference. This is the follow up event to the Learning Technologies conference that takes place in January each year. This was only the second year the follow up event was held and, to my mind, it works even better than the main conference. Why?

  • The rooms are laid out differently. Instead of a lecture theatre/classroom style arrangement, there are tables and chairs, so attendees are facing each other, rather than the 'front'.
  • There is no stage... although the two main rooms have projections on the 'front' wall. One of these rooms was in near darkness, though, which I didn't like at all!
  • There is a much wider range of sessions, and far more of them running concurrently. Two larger rooms, with about 10 or so tables of 10 people; several small rooms, each seating 10 or so people around a single table; cafe sessions in the coffee area and one room for hands-on workshops. There are sessions addressing different sectors, different interest groups, different stages of the adoption curve.
  • The sessions are less about presentation and more about facilitation. A lot of round-table discussion goes on among delegates.
  • Networking works better. Because people get talking during the sessions, they seem more open to chatting to new faces during the breaks. Also, the pre-existing conversations on the ning site means that some people have already 'met' before they meet, so there issome putting names to faces going on. I met a few people I have only previously known online.
As always at these events, some people left me gasping for breath. I was astonished by the frequency with which the 'but how do we control it?' question came up when discussing the socialisation, informalisation, individualisation of learning. I think I will address this subject in a separate post.

I think first prize in the taking my breath away competition has to go to those who preside over traditional traning departments and simply cannot see how 'this stuff' is any different from what it is that they provide.

Financial considersations almost caused me to save the train fare and give this year's event a miss. I'm glad I didn't. The surreal (and probably inevitable) 'walking with dinosaurs' moments aside, it was exciting and fresh and the conversation (and it was a conversation) lively and challenging.

Of course, the conversation isn't over, either. The discussion boards show ongoing activity.

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