Learning Technologies 2012: Day Two overview #LT12UK

The second and final day at Learning Technologies provided delegates with more big ideas and practical learning and development (L&D) tips. Martin Couzins provides a review of day two.

Jaron Lanier, the man who coined the term “virtual reality” started the day with an analysis of where humans currently ‘”fit” with technology, his thesis being that the real power now is held by those who own data – the likes of Google and Facebook – rather than those who produce and share content and data.

This, he argued, is storing up potential problems for humanity. If machine intelligence is set to match and surpass human intelligence, then where do humans fit in?

Lanier’s was the last of three keynotes that provided the big-picture themes around people and technology.

The seminar programme focused on the practicalities of improving the learner experience by using new technology.

The technology challenge for L&D

In his session on digital learning futures, Steve Wheeler, associate professor of learning technology at Plymouth University, walked delegates through how new technologies and are affecting learners and how L&D needs to adapt to harness the potential of these new technologies.

So what are the challenges for organisations when it comes to using them?

Wheeler said that he sees no organisational constraints when it comes to adopting new learning technologies it is only individuals and organisations that impose those constraints. The constraints are the problems or barriers you perceive need to be overcome.

He said that there are always ways around barriers and that organisations need to work around what he called “innovation prevention departments”.

His advice is to find the “positive deviants”, those who are being creative and subverting the rules in some way because they know that things need to happen. Once you have found them, work with them and learn from them and do it yourself, he added.

Watch the interview:

Theory and practice

Graham O’Connell, head of learning and curriculum at Civil Service Learning, said that the conference had provided insights into how technology is changing and how we need to change how we think about it.

He said that L&D needs to focus more on how people think rather than just on the learning content. And if people are going to exploit what they know and share their expertise in the organisation then it is up to L&D to help them to find new ways of doing this.

This is not about how we give people information, it is about how we let people build their own knowledge and creativity, and how they can better work with others, he said.

On a more practical level, O’Connell said that the conference had given him insights into how you blend informal learning into a more formal structure and how to stretch people beyond basic competencies using social networks, using technology better and generally enabling learners to become more self-sufficient.

O’Donnelll said a lot of generic learning is standardised and that L&D needs to help learners find their own individualized learning.

 “The more we can do to help, plan and share that learning, the more engaging and rewarding it will be for individuals and the more benefits will feed back to business.”

Watch the interview:


The E-learning Network (ELN) launched its campaign for effective e-learning at Learning Technologies 2012. Chairman of the ELN, Rob Hubbard, said there was a lot of good and bad e-learning and that the campaign aimed to highlight examples of good e-learning, share examples and provide a guide to what you should expect to pay for it.

He said that e-learning needs to be engaging, relevant, memorable and actionable.

Listen to the interview with Rob Hubbard here.

Cloud technology

Paul Wilson, cloudrooms operations manager at Redtray, said that cloud technology had enabled new ways to deliver training and provide new types of learning intervention outside of the classroom. 

Software that sits on virtual servers provides a cost-effective way for organisations to host and deliver learning. But he warned that L&D professionals needed to be aware of the differences between classroom and virtual delivery.

Listen to the interview with Paul Wilson.

Review of the conference

Learning Technologies chairman Donald H Taylor said that the three keynote speakers, Dr Edward de Bono, Ray Kurzweil and Jaron Lanier, had been very well received by delegates. Taylor said that his favourite session was one which involved a quintet to explore emotion, music and metaphor in learning.

He also shared his learning challenges for 2012 and the types of technology that will shape the way we learn both now and in the future.

Watch the video:

Read the review of day one at Learning technologies 2012 here.

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