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Learning Live 2013: Round-up

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25th Sep 2013
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Could Learning Live 2013 turn the top two L&D events into a top three? We sent editor Jon Kennard along to find out.

Earlier this month, TrainingZone joined many of the L&D community in a trip to the heart of St Paul's for Learning Live. Now in only its third year, Learning Live has made quite a splash in the annual pool of training events, one of its biggest coups last year being the #learninglive hashtag trending nationwide on Twitter. This could well be down to the fact that trainers are generally a tech-savvy bunch, and very active on social media. A perfect example of the Twitter's power of amplification.

The format was again a day-and-a-half affair rather than a full two days such as you'd find at LT, Online Educa and so on. This works for a few reasons: it puts the focus on the second day which traditionally suffers a drop-off in numbers, that in turn offers extra value for the first day and lets delegates treat it as a preliminary networking session. And the meal in the evening relaxes and familiarises delegates further.

The after dinner speaker was Andy Cope, co-author of 'The Art of Being Brilliant', a book we've featured previously in the TrainingZone book club. As impassioned, funny and engaging as Andy was, it didn't make me want to see his colleague Andy Whittaker's talk the next day. It was a great after-dinner speech but there are plenty of self-help books out there and I wanted talks with more serious subject matter from my LL experience.

The conference this year was split into four streams: collaborative workplace learning, performance improvement, the real world and our future. View the whole programme here

So what did we go for? On the first day session I sat in on Doug Shaw, whose talk entitled 'Working Better Together' was quite disarming in its delivery. Shaw's candid admission of his own shortcomings and skills gaps was a refreshing take on how to succeed. A focus on how to view mistakes in a positive light is certainly something we could all benefit from, both in business and at home.

Owen Ferguson's talk, 'Big Data: the final frontier', was dwarfed by the goings-on next door as Andy Whittaker carried on where his 'art of being brilliant' collaborator left off, and the air was regularly punctuated by laughs muffled only by the partition. Undeterred, Owen delivered a compelling presentation about the need to embrace big data, use it to our advantage, and also make sure we look outside the industry for inspiration, citing the NHS of the 50s as his principal guideline. For more on Owen's talk listen to the interview beneath, and if you're wondering what big data is all about, here are some useful links.

Learning Live soundbites: Owen Ferguson on Big Data by Trainingzone on Mixcloud

First session of the afternoon that I sat in on was the LPI's own Alan Bellinger, who talked about 'The Value of Business Skills'. Hypothesising an alternative to the Kirkpatrick Four Levels, this was a very hands-on session that made good practical use of case studies, and TZ was only drawn away because of the flurry of Twitter love directed at Neil Denny, whose talk was going on in the room next door. I had to check it out. As idiosyncratic as Doug Shaw, Neil's presentation, 'The Delicious Discomfort of Not Knowing', made a virtue of humility and opening your mind to unorthodoxy.

That left us one final session for the day and I thought I'd show some solidarity to Julian Stodd, TZ member, contributor and social business expert. Systems thinking, networks, social advocacy, these were the watchwords of Julian's talk. I caught him for a couple of minutes just before his talk. Have a listen beneath.

Learning Live soundbites: Julian Stodd on the social business by Trainingzone on Mixcloud

We even managed to find time for a chat to Nicki Kettle, LPI operations manager, to offer a quick congratulations on how well the event went and some insight into the institute's plans for the future.

Learning Live soundbites: Nicki Kettle from the LPI by Trainingzone on Mixcloud

For more coverage, have a read of former TZ editor Martin Couzin's round-up here, and some excellent curation from David Kelly here.

All in all, it was a slickly put together event with talks from some unexpected corners of L&D, that covered a lot of bases and provided decent value for its delegates. And great food too. We're looking forward to next year already.

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