10L: A few simple questions about how leading professionals see their work.
I started my career as a teacher – in both secondary and primary schools – and then moved into the private sector, spending the past 20 years designing and leading on technology solutions for organisations and projects where training was part of the answer. These days, I spend the bulk of my time as Digital Learning Manager for a global, intergovernmental organisation, and the rest supporting companies and charities who are moving into or improving their approach to technology enhanced learning. Other than that, my wife and I are completely renovating an old French farmhouse from an empty shell.
So, what do you do dear? Describe your work to an elderly relative.
I help organisations to do training and education better, usually using the internet and other technical things.
What was your favourite learning experience (Could be work, personal, school…anything is valid)? What were you trying to do? Why did it work so well for you?
During my 12 years working for a large, private sector outsourcing organisation, I learnt how to take responsibility for my own learning, simply through being given new challenges on a daily basis and given permission, time and access to the internet to learn how to deal with them.
Enough already…What one thing do you wish people in your industry or profession would stop doing? (What gets your goat?)
Creating knowledge resources in SCORM packages and then hiding them away in a Learning Management System where they’ll never be found again.
Same again please…What has changed for the better in your professional world as a result of COVID working practices? Should it be retained for the future (whenever that might be and whatever it might look like)?
I’ve worked remotely since I was first given that opportunity back in the mid 2000s. Now many organisations have seen that it can work for the great majority of their employees and contractors. My hope is that people will continue to be given the freedom to choose when and where they work, and that the valuable time we have when we’re all in the same space will be used carefully and not wasted.
From the good old days…What do you miss most about working life from the pre-COVID world? Do you think it will return?
I miss being able to occasionally meet with my colleagues and clients in real life for those all-important workshops and informal conversations. I expect it will return. We’ve learnt how to make do in Zoom, Teams and Google Meet, and we’re learning how to use those tools to build relationships, but everything has to be very intentional. In real life, there’s more space for serendipity.
Theft is the sincerest form of flattery…Which part of which other industry or profession do you think we should learn from and adopt (or just steal)?
I’m going to say two things… In the learning & development world we’re all about trying to change behaviours. And you know who are the real experts at this? Marketeers. They know how to get beneath the skin of their audience, understand what drives them, and produce creative solutions to “persuade” enough of them to do something that perhaps they wouldn’t have done otherwise. Sounds Machiavellian, doesn’t it? But imagine if L&D could do that?
The other is web development. While we’re stuck using authoring tools to create SCORM packages, the web development world is focussed on the end-to-end user experience, on bringing value to those users as quickly as possible, and on efficient ways to work in distributed teams.
You know who would be great for this…Which famous person (live or historical) do you want to join your team and why?
I’d go for Richard Feynmann, the physicist. For one thing, he wasn’t afraid of what other people thought of him, and was quite happy to speak his mind, even if it made him unpopular. He was also a great communicator. He was able to take complex ideas, which are normally described using maths, and bring them to life using language non-mathematicians could understand.
If only I had…What did you learn from your most recent mistake?
If I only had used more PTFE tape when I installed the bath taps, I wouldn’t have had to redo all the sealant that dissolved after I turned the water on… 😞
Professionally… I can be quite outspoken on social media, sometimes using it as a place to vent a little… A few weeks back I was bemoaning the state of much of what is done under the name of “elearning”. It was bad timing for a colleague, and added to existing stresses considerably. I quickly took the post down and apologised. I’d like to think I’ve learnt to be more careful in how and when I criticise, and to try to be more constructive.
There can be only one…Which one tool or piece of kit would you keep if you could only use one from now on?
Apart from my oscillating saw? 😉 Software-wise, I would keep LibreOffice. With it, I can create ebooks, write documents, handle data, draw diagrams and manage finances. Like all multi-tools, it’s not always the best tool for the job, but it’ll get the job done.
The picture of success…Which image or picture is a good representation of how you would like to develop your practice over the next five years?
Where can we find you?