Archive for July, 2008

Going to California

July 31, 2008

Robert Plant & Mary McKenna

Have I ever told you about the time I met Robert Plant?

…..it’s all about being in the right place at the right time and seizing your opportunities when they present themselves.

Robert and I met in a backwater bar (where else?) way up in the mountains in California in a place called Pioneertown.  We were both there to see the wonderful Wanda Jackson play.  Wanda was one of Elvis’ girlfriends in the 1950s and boy does she have some good stories to tell about those days.  But that’s for another blog…

Fifty or more years later, she still manages to pack enough of a punch to entice a living legend and rock god to leave his Los Angeles pad, get into his car alone and drive a hundred miles or so out into the desert to watch her perform and to participate in her particular brand of living theatre.  And up for it he was as he jostled with me for pole position on the front row.

And what, I hear you ask dear readers, does any of this have to do with e-learning in the public sector in 2008?  The answer is that as Learning Pool customers, every one of you is in the right place at the right time…the tools and the technology are all here and Web 2.0 is within your grasp, your learners are all ready and waiting, the community is in place and willing to offer support, the exchange works, the list of topics you can author is endless and limitless – so what are you waiting for?  Take that next step, download AT5 and let your imagination do the rest.

Mary

P.S. For anyone out there who isn’t sure (where have you been?) Robert Plant is the legendary Led Zeppelin singer and front man with his compadre Jimmy Page.  And as everyone surely knows, Led Zeppelin is the BBITW as Janet’s mum says (Best Band in the World).

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Salad days

July 23, 2008

Salad

I’m a bit jealous of the new guy in our team.  He walks in here, coolly joins the lunchtime salad club and has taken to his role like a duck to water. Hmmph!  He could at least pretend he needs my help …

Let me explain. I’m heading off for a few months to deliver another little project of my own so Andrew’s joined our Marketing team to a) cover my maternity leave and b) stay on as Marketing Executive after I’ve come back.  

Because I’m so new to my role and only really just found my feet, I’m feeling a teensy bit put out that I have to hand over for a while (there – I’ve said it!).  But I’m happy that I’m leaving my duties in capable hands, so I can’t hold too much of a grudge.  Check out Andrew’s profile and see the other new additions to the team here.   

The past few months have flown in and I can hardly believe it’s almost time for me to go.  It’s been a steep, whirlwind of a learning curve, but thoroughly enjoyable at the same time (check out how I felt when I joined way back in May).  The role has been both challenging and fulfilling all wrapped into one and I’ve been helped hugely by the fact we have a wonderful, supportive team here in Marketing and throughout the company.  No wonder I’m being a bit precious about my job!

A little of what I’ve been busy doing is helping with the design of new leaflets (check these out on our resource section) and updating the website with daily news and images.  We’ve also created a new section on the site called ‘Quote of the Day’ for those needing a little inspiration.  Check these quotes out on the homepage.

Although I’ll miss the buzz of Learning Pool, I have to admit, it will be a relief to put my feet up.  For those who have never met me, I’m quite petite, so at the moment I’m as broad as I am tall and waddling instead of walking!  All’s left now is to say goodbye for a while and to wish Andrew all the best in his new role and, in case you’re worried, I haven’t tried to sabotage any of your work. I promise…

Emma

The Learning Pool Concept

July 22, 2008

Paul and Mary, our founding directors, explain the Learning Pool concept very simply and talk about why e-learning is a real solution for creating efficiencies in today’s public sector.

All in a day’s work ….

July 21, 2008
Who said e-learning is the new rock and roll?

Who said e-learning is the new rock and roll?

Power to the People

July 18, 2008

Tug of War

I have to admit a council’s remit seems a tough one at the moment.  Not only do they have to run the libraries and leisure centres better than ever before, keep the streets clean, manage door step recycling schemes (whilst encouraging reluctant recyclers to use them) but, this week, there’s been the small factor of having 100,000 or so less staff to do it.   And all the while trying to reduce costs annually by 3% to meet their CSR07 targets. 

On top of all that central government’s also been busy with the publishing of six white papers in just half as many days. These papers cover some meaty issues tackling devolvement of power and putting communities in control.  Citizen Kane had nothing on Hazel Blears.

The main aim of these white papers is to bring more people, that’s you and I, into the democratic process and give more control to local communities rather than Whitehall.  But can and will this actually succeed?

One big challenge not to be underestimated is simply being able to communicate the clear and precise messages from the papers through to each staff member.  A tough job at the best of times but especially so when staff numbers are in the hundreds or even thousands spread across many different working locations and working different hours.   Sounds like a job for e-learning!  This is a medium perfect for delivering consistent messages to a large dispersed audience within a certain time frame. 

Local councils must first respond to the new White Papers but the biggest challenge lies ahead, delivering the knowledge needed in order to implement these changes. 

This could be achieved by constructing a clear, defined learning and development strategy in conjunction with e-learning services like our Dynamic Learning Environment (DLE), a fully hosted (and very cost effective) system which does more than an LMS ever could. 

You can deliver our e-learning courses, and anybody else’s too for that matter, using it and it can be designed and tailored exactly to your needs.  Add in polls, quizzes, glossaries (anyone for a TLA?*), links to other learning material and podcasts.  It can even allow people to sign up to a webinar or online chat with the Chief Executive.  Priceless for making your CE accessible to far flung and remote working staff.

We’ve got some ideas up our sleeves (there are that many) for other interesting stuff, not least a piece of e-learning outlining the 7 key themes of the Empowerment white paper.  But more on that later….

*three letter acronyms

Andrew

The joys of email

July 10, 2008


This morning I started to show my age while chatting to Daniel.  We were comparing the horror stories that are our inboxes and how our mornings were taken up replying to emails.  

My first email address was given to me at University and it was really difficult to remember the address as it was full of numbers and odd letters; I had to write it down and carry it around with me.  I used to check my inbox every couple of weeks on campus and wasn’t really enthused to check it more as I only ever had tedious emails from my lecturers containing course notes.  How things have moved on since then…….

We realised that we both had our first email addresses at the same time and, although he quickly assumed that we were the same age (much to my disgust), I was pleased to point out that I was actually few years younger than him.

I then began to reminisce about the days before email and wondering what it would be like in the office if we stopped using it.  Would the fax machine be constantly out of paper (no change there!)? Would the telephones never stop ringing and would the postman bring the post by truck? 

Gosh, we might even have to start talking to each other in the office, which would mean walking up flights of stairs every time I wanted to talk to Breda about venue arrangements or Danny about creating yet another mailing list.  Imagine – that would mean speaking to them in person and I may even have to say pretty please. And I’d be forced to walk up the four flights of stairs to the penthouse suite to talk to Paul and Mary.  On this evidence, email definitely makes my life easier!

A few weeks ago we took some time out to attend a workshop about becoming an email exemplar.   We spent an interactive hour with Bob Hallewell from Expert Messaging to learn about how to manage our emails more effectively and, ultimately, how to save ourselves some time.  The session was great food for thought and provoked some good team discussions.

The next day I found myself writing more precise emails. I cut out all the jargon and abbreviations, stopped hitting the reply to all button and turned off my email alert button which meant I could concentrate on doing some ‘real’ work.  This worked well for a few days until my inbox of unread emails increased into the hundreds and then I was back into my old habits of sloppy emailing.

But one thing I did notice from ignoring my inbox is that your colleagues do start calling you more.  If only just to check that you are working and not having an unofficial duvet day.  Hmm.

Emily

Beans, trains and a DLE

July 4, 2008

Since joining Learning Pool the railway network has become a big part of my life.  Don’t worry, I’ve not turned into a train spotter (although I’ve seen quite a few on my travels).  I use the train as a way of getting around and, when everything is running smoothly, I think it’s a wonderful way to move thousands of people and goods all over the country.

But what does the rail network have in common with e-learning?  At first glance, not a lot. But, whilst sitting on the platform at Preston station this week, it suddenly struck me.

There were hundreds of people moving through the station, arriving, departing or changing trains.  Others, like me, were patiently waiting on the platform, contemplating life or just thinking about what to have for tea.  We all had one thing in common, we needed information.  Train times, platform changes and many types of other essential information for our journeys were supplied through electronic notice boards, leaflets, posters, nasally tanoy announcements and, by far the most important element, other people (“Did you hear what that announcement said?  No, me neither.”)  National Rail has its own ‘blend’ to deliver the information.

The human element in the blend is vital.  In the digital age of Facebook, Bebo, and MySpace plus instant messaging and blogging it’s easy to get carried away with the technology.  E-learning was once a solitary affair with learners accessing courses and little else but now, by combining a Learning Pool DLE with your e-learning, you can have the flexibility to deliver your courses whilst also enabling your learners to communicate with each other via discussion forums, polls and wikis.  They can also access supporting materials such as glossaries and links out to other documents or websites.  You get the option of assessing your learners and gathering the all important feedback.

How you create your own unique ‘blend’ of learning is up to you, but don’t forget the human element.  No matter what the next technological development will be, we all like the human touch.  Now then, beans on toast it is………

John