Archive for October, 2008

Calling all e-learning authors

October 29, 2008

Laurel and HardyIn addition to my account management role within the South West and Wales I’ve also been delivering the two day Instructional Design Authoring Workshops across the country for the past eighteen months or so.

We’re delighted that Andy Houghton joined us this week, as he will take on a role which will involve delivering a lot of our workshops, and he will be a great asset to our team.

Handing over the ID workshops reins to Andy made me think about all the wonderful people I have met whilst delivering these workshops and of all enormous enthusiasm they have shown and learning they have achieved during these events.

We’ve had some great laughs along the way – including some of the hysterical ‘Laurel and Hardy’ type moments when arriving at locations and setting up.  I’m sure Lee and Yvonne from Knowsley will remember me being in fits of laughter when presented with the maps to give to delegates so they could find the toilets!

So, thanks to everyone who has ever attended a workshop with me (all 200 of you).

All I would like now, knowing all the good stuff you were authoring and planning to author, is whether you’re ready to share any of the e-learning you’ve created back into the Learning Pool catalogue?

I know there will be some great stuff out there because I’ve earwigged on your plans.  Just imagine how much everyone will benefit if you all share what you have done (however small or grand)!

If you’re not sure how to share your e-learning back into the Learning Pool catalogue follow the instructions on the LP website or contact the help desk.

So, come on all you great authors – upload it for us, or send it to us for sharing.  Let’s be having you!


Wired for Sound

October 28, 2008

Cliff RichardHere at Learning Pool we get about a bit, travelling up and down the country to workshops, events, conferences and visiting customers at their offices.  Getting out and about is always interesting and stimulating plus we tend to pick up great material for our blogs on the way!

I’ve stayed in many hotels over the years whilst on company business and oh boy…have I experienced the good and the bad.

At the one end of the spectrum I had the dubious pleasure of staying in what was surely one of the grimmest places in Scotland.  It was a buy one night, get one free which sounds great except the second night was at Edinburgh City Hospital due to food poisoning.

On another occasion I arrived at a hotel which can only be described as a Blenheim Palace type abode where I was surrounded by luxury.  The booking was a mix up by the company I was working for at the time, but that’s another story.  Suffice to say it nearly made up for my Scottish experience.

But never, until recently, have I stayed in a hotel which had a pop star themed room.

But to my surprise and Paul and Deborah’s initial disbelief, I arrived at my room in the Aurora Hotel in Manchester to find walls adorned with Cliff Richard memorabilia. Now I would have preferred the room to be adorned with Daniel Craig, or Matthew McConaughey, but hey….I can relate to how cool Cliff was in his time.

So, with gold singles and signed photos around the room, I just had to call Deborah to come and take a look.  She couldn’t quite believe it, as both she and Paul didn’t have such luck with their room decor.

Truth be told, it was all a bit odd really.  But I couldn’t resist telling them at breakfast that when I turned on the shower that morning, it had burst into life by playing ‘Congratulations!’  I think I had them convinced for a brief moment. 


It’s great up North

October 27, 2008

Uncle Joe's Mint BallsAccents are a wonderful thing, aren’t they?  They remind us that we’re all different, with different backgrounds, experiences and geography.  Here at Learning Pool you can hear accents from all over the world (hey Sam!).

But it can sometimes be hard deciphering what your neighbour is saying if they have a particularly rich and broad way of speaking.  Active listening is a skill that becomes honed in these circumstances.

Of course that’s where online forums and emails can come into their own.  The Learning Pool club proudly boasts members from all four corners of the UK and everyone can understand everyone else perfectly via the written word.  When we all meet up at our networking events (and especially after a glass of Vimto) that can be a different story though.

So three cheers for the website that helpfully explains how to understand a Wigan accent.  Our very own John Roughley, himself no stranger to an Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball or two, tells us that this explanation of his local dialect is bob on accurate. 

So if you come across any other sites that decode accents we’d love to hear about them. 


Birmingham gets a Second Life

October 24, 2008

Birmingham canalBirmingham is now well and truly on the digital map via the creation of it’s new virtual world, ‘Birmingham Island’.

Virtual Birmingham will promote the use of virtual technologies such as 2D/3D mapping, web 2.0 and virtual worlds for the benefit of visitors and businesses alike. 

Visitors will be able to browse Birmingham’s tourist atrractions, transport links, hotels and car parks before physically visiting while residents will be able to access local services. 

Businesses will be able to promote their services and organise events online (just imagine never having to walk the miles of corridors within the NEC ever again…)

It’s early days but very exciting and full of potential.  But just one question – will the virtual residents still have that wonderful Birmingham accent?


Commuting to work

October 14, 2008

Jimmy KimmelAny of you who know me well will know that I’m a big fan of US television chat show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

I knew that Jimmy had done some crazy commuting this time last year as he spent a week dashing between LA and New York, guest hosting in the evening for Live with Regis and Kelly and then rushing back to LA to film his own late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live!

But it was only when I was browsing Wikipedia the other night that I found that this week long commute had taken Jimmy into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest distance travelled in a single working week. A staggering total of 22,406 miles. WOW!

Now compare this mammoth commute to that of Learning Pool’s very own John Roughley. Those of you who know John won’t be surprised to hear that he has been carefully recording the number of miles he has travelled visiting our dear Learning Pool customers since joining the Learning Pool team in October 2007 (happy anniversary John!).   I believe John has travelled some 16,500 miles on English public transport in the last year.  There’s dedication for you.

Bear with me as there is a serious point to be made in here somewhere amongst this light entertainment.

Many of you are quite rightly attempting to reduce your carbon footprint by cutting the number of miles spent commuting to work and one of the ways to do this is through introduction of new ways of working programmes.

Check out our fabulous flexible working e-learning module and video resource created with LB Bexley and Project Nomad. It contains bags of useful ideas and information and will help you deal with some of the challenges involved.

Now, back to those train timetables, John ….


Straight talking

October 8, 2008

RussiaThe IDeA has been running a campaign encouraging the use of plain English in local government and they’ve got some excellent case studies and features from councils.

The latest is about the creation of a style guide from North Lincolnshire Council which makes very interesting reading.  The author, Stacey Dickens, talks about how, historically, local government has communicated with it’s residents with a ‘degree of arrogance’ and how, at North Lincs, they’re tackling this. 

As an aside, my own experiences as a resident of a large north London borough can wholeheartedly back this up but not just from a written perspective.  I remember feeling very cross and frustrated when trying to get through to someone to talk about bins and being forced to spend over 3 minutes choosing from a series of ever expanding phone menus from a voice that was just far too irritatingly chirpy.  So arrogance can also be about wasting people’s time in phone queuing systems designed for the ease of the council rather than the customer.

Deep breath. 

But back to North Lincolnshire.  I love that Stacey’s article talks about their lessons learned and how they are actually using the guide in special workshop sessions and as a handout to all new employees.  This blended approach to learning delivery is by far the best way to embed the learning. 

We’ve got an e-learning course in our catalogue specfically for ‘Effective Writing‘ which could also be added to the mix, creating a face to face, paper based and e-learning blended programme about writing effectively.

Here at Learning Pool we did an exercise recently to standardise our out of office email messages.  No one individual message was particularly poor but they didn’t all contain the same information, so we decided to shape up. 

But at least nobody had an out of office message like the one I received from a council officer informing me that he was out of the office because he was off to Russia to watch some football – ‘Come on the Chelski!’ was his sign off.   Plain English indeed.