I'm planning the Learning and Skills Group (LSG) Members' Conference on 9 June at Olympia 2 in London. This is the free extra day's meeting at Olympia 2 for all delegates who attended the 2009 Learning Technologies Conference.
Key thoughts so far are:
* Lots of interaction
* Lots of small group work - especially for groups already established on the LSG community site
* 'Birds of a feather' sessions where anyone interested in a particular topic/industry can gather
* More great speakers
* Long sessions that January to allow for more discussion
Providing this is going to require some creativity with the space available at Olympia, but don't worry, we'll make it happen.
What are your thoughts? How can we make best use of this extra day together? What are the topics you would like to discuss? What are the groups that you think should be represented?
This will be a continuation of January's event, drilling down in detail and practicality and establishing connections between delegates. The idea is to build a support network to help you meet your L&D goals in the rest of 2009.
What about a bit of a barcamp thing for one or two of the sessions? So, if you select to attend the session on X topic, you have to prepare a 7 (or 5 or 2 or whatever) minute preso on the subject from your perspective. Everyone present has to present (if you follow - English and its homonyms!). In order for that to be practical, we would have to have many small groups. Don't know if the logisitics are do-able at the Olympia.
We would also need to institute a few ground rules about what may and may not be used (e.g. no PowerPoints is a common rule for these), but we can hammer out the details nearer the time.
I am looking forward to the Conference day in June and one of the subjects that I would be interested to listen about and discuss would be Assessment.
As a former classroom-based instructor, I am used to formative assessment of trainees and students using the conventional methods of Q&A, observing body-language, short quizes and tests etc. Sumative assessment would then be multiple choice and short answer exams at the end of the course. However, this is not so easy to do when most of the learning is technology based so it would be both interesting and informative to see how other people deal with this.
Paul Pine had some intereting ideas in his session on the Type 45 Destroyer training and he said that the students enjoyed these assessments rather than dreading them. However, due to the time constraints he was only able to briefly touch on the subject.
I was thinking about this very topic earlier today!
I agree that assessment is an important topic - especially in the light of what we have been saying about what constitutes learning and how we should assess it meaningfully. However, this is a very wide ranging topic, so I'm not sure it can adequately be handled as a single issue. For example, assessing whether the naval guys are able to use the weapons on the destroyer is a different matter from identifying whether a new manager has developed interviewing skills!
Perhaps this could be one of the barcamp sessions I mentioned earlier...
I think the idea of utilising and building on the existing groups on the LSG site is a good one - this would help to embed the vision you expressed at the conference of the community being the ongoing aspect of the conference. Also between now and June the the groups could be encouraged to debate and decide themselves how they make use of whatever time is available.
At the end of the conference there we were encouraged to take away one thing which we were going to work on/do differently with a view to reporting back. How about an informal networking part of the day, but with a theme of discussion on progress on our takeaways from Jan?
- 6 months after / what can we learn from the LSG social networking experience that can be applied to our organisations?
- would it be possible to organise groups of different levels (beginner / intermediate / advanced)?
- how could we get a end-user feedback to avoid geek discussions as possible?
Let the end product be something useful and practical which people can take and implement right away. There has already been discussion enough to enable some subjects of common interest to emerge. We could debate the process long and loud, but let it be determined by the desired product (learning) boiled together with the personalities, capabilities, needs and preferences of the participants (learners), taking account of the (logistics) environment and constraints of space and time and resources, including the facilitators with which they have to work together. Oo.. er.. sounding a bit like the "Three Ls" of instructional design to me.
The actual topics might very well include "Assessment (in all its many guises) and How to Do it properly", "How to design good questions in e-learning", "How to use e-learning to manage skill-checks", "How to keep lesson material lean and mean, without loss of purpose or appeal", "7 Things you can do right away to begin to make the shift from training provider to business partner", "How to build capability and support performance without doing training", "Practical Techniques to help you to mediate Learning and Development online", "How to avoid turning the elephant in the corner (the pressure to prove the value of Training & Development) into the Dead Cow (Evaluation).
"Interaction" and "group work" sound very worthy but may be a red herring. We use these words so often as a protective shield. I'm not arguing against collaborative or shared learning, but let's not exclude meaningful tasks that provide guided practice where the interaction is between individual and facilitator, or individual and task.
Have any of you seen the TV show Scrapheap Challenge?
The feeling I get from the discussions in this topic is that there is a real interest in practice as well as theory.
I hosted some CEDEFOP Study Visits for the British Council. One session was dedicated to the 'hand'-on' approach to let the delegates play with some of the technologies we were talking about.
I propose a workshop thread in the form of a friendly competition. Teams of 3-4 conference delegates/speakers work to create a small eLearning / training artifact or sample. Each team has the same software, PCs, and starting content, web search tools, and hardware (e.g. web cams). Teams establish the evaluation criteria (e.g. appropriate use of media, ease of use, etc.)
Perhaps at the end plenary or at lunch? we could have the teams display the sample designs and we could use the voting tool from the last conference to select the 'best of conference' '09 champion.
I am keen on this idea. I think a hands on approach will be a practical way of starting to assess whether the technology will be fit for the purpose we want within our organisation and also means we can see some options we may otherwise have dismissed.
I am attracted to your idea, Skip; indeed it has echoes of some of the things we've done in the recent past with the ELN such as "balloon debate" and "Let's do the Whole Show right here". The bee in my bonnet is that the value of games is in proportion to the quality of facilitation and quantity of reflective thought that happens during and afterwards. I know this is not a popular view. In fact I've even been dubbed "Malvolio" ("Dost think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?") I love fun and doing things together in teams, but I've become a wee bit suspicious of "INTERACTIVE" per se in recent times, when what is really called for is simply PRACTICAL i.e offering practice with meaningful feedback, and as close as possible to an authentic work-like experience.
I think Phil's suggestion of the outcome being something that attendees can take away and implement is spot on. I see LT as a kind of lubrication for the brain that gets me thinking about things, and LSG as a place to discuss how to make some of these ideas real.
Karyn's barcamp type idea is great (although perhaps it shouldn't be explicitly promoted as a barcamp/unconference - it makes some people nervous). I'm all for anything at all that promotes more involvement from everyone, rather than just a few presenters.