This year I had the wonderful opportunity upon invitation by Jane Hart (@c4lpt) to present at LearnTec2020, Europe’s largest technology conference.
I jumped at the chance more so with the opportunity to work with Jane directly – and to also meet Jane Bozarth (@janebozarth) in person who for many years, I’ve been chatting with online but never met in person. it was also an opportunity to meet Andrew Jacobs once again who I first met in 2013 on our visit to London and where I first wrote about it on this blog When You Just Need to Meet Your PLN Face-to-Face.
— Jane Hart (@C4LPT) January 27, 2020
My presentation was all about Incorporating Learning into the Workplace and my aim was to highlight and demonstrate some examples of how learning can happen within the workflow, using the work environment, problems, place and the platforms that we use on a daily basis as integral to learning and working – as one. My focus was about learning at work being about the following aspects:
- Building new skills and capabilities to navigate change in our daily lives (where work enables us the time, place, environment, culture, support to do so) which then:
- Derive meaning and context from what we do at work (which then allows us the time to reflect, make sense and contextualise our work to what it means to the greater organisation, life and society) through,
- Cultivating community (building relationships, networks and communities with people who can help us develop professionally and personally).
So in effect, these three aspects touch on all aspects of my own framework for how people learn which I shared and which is:
Much of my work in recent years has now been focussed on working with people OUTSIDE of learning and development and I’ve come to realise that in fact, learning is a key critical skill that is all about working but that it is not at the control of a department, say the Learning and Development department. My mindset has shifted so much that I’m seeing that learning is the responsibility of everyone and that it cannot be mandated or controlled – nor can we be told how to do it, when to do it or what tools to use. However, we can all do with some guidance or support for us to build our own individual plans for what we need or want to learn so that we can make sense of our changing work and not feel overwhelmed all the time. We also need ways to better communicate and relate with our peers, our colleagues in our teams and departments across the organisation and indeed, find people around the world who can help us close our own knowledge, skill and performance gaps. It means that we start to change how we think about ourselves and come from a place less about thinking we know everything to more of having an insatiable desire to be open to new ideas, insights, experiences and then to experiment, share and help others in the process.
So my focus was all about how to achieve this AT WORK with the tools we have at work (no LMS was mentioned) and the PEOPLE around us.
In order for me to explain this, I used the Regarding 365 slide of the Inner and Outer Loops that focus on the Microsoft tools and which got a lot of interest. In fact, there were many people direct messaging me on how to find this slide and learn more about it which made me realise how little we focus on what these tools that people use ON A DAILY BASIS AT WORK are actually considered, reflected, or explored as learning tools.
A lot of workers spend their time in the core, but we have to encourage them to go into the outer spheres to allow them to learn in the flow of work @ActivateLearn #LearnTec2020 pic.twitter.com/4X67Limm25
— Bianca Baumann #LearnTec2020 (@biancabaumann) January 29, 2020
Another key lesson for me was that I LOVE TO EXPERIMENT.
There isn’t a conference I have been to where I have run the same presentation in the same style. Instead, I try to mix it up by exploring and challenging myself to find EXAMPLES of how I can do something that is my key message.
In this case, “Incorporating learning into the workplace” as I was talking about the tools that we use at work (and I focused on Microsoft products here because that’s the work I do now at Adopt & Embrace (but noting you can do this with other tools if they integrate with each other). However, what was the problem I was trying to solve?
How do I capture everyone’s contact details at #learntec2020 to connect with them post event to learn more about them and if they have specific questions about my presentation?
Truth be told, I didn’t want to spend any time tapping peoples contact details into my phone – bit tedious. Nor did I want to carry any business cards with me. I had to automate this process…so…
1. Create a MS Form to capture basic contact details (Name, Email, Phone Number and maybe a nice thank you message!)
2. Create a QR code that links to said form above (and which I can add to my PowerPoint presentation slides or have on my phone for people to scan to connect with me – does away with business cards entirely)
3. Create a SharePoint list that reflects the same fields of the Form above.
4. Create a MS Flow to have them all working together. (MS Flow is similar to If This Then That or Zapier but it’s a Microsoft product).
The idea is that the person scans QR code that is on my PowerPoint slide and immediately pops their contact details into the Form that is generated. This sends them an automatic email of “Thanks, I’ll be in contact with you upon my return to Australia, in the meantime, check out our website” and then details are automatically uploaded into an Academy SharePoint list and a Microsoft To Do task is generated for me upon my return on Monday afternoon. I used the reference here to learn how to do it.
Within half an hour, I had automated the entire process of capturing contact details, sending emails of thanks, populating a list with said details and setting up a to-do item for me. Genius! You can try it out for yourself if you like.
The idea of doing something like this was to show people how I learned something using only work tools, experimenting with them and then automating something that will save me time in my work and which I can share to others – as well as think of more applications that I can do the same for other work processes.
THIS IS LEARNING AT WORK.
However, imagine my surprise when excitedly I told people about this little experiment and then they mentioned that “it couldn’t be done, you cannot do this!”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it contravenes our GPDR requirements. People will not answer your form because you are capturing their data. This is not acceptable because of our laws.”
My hopes were dashed. Here was I all excited about the idea of automating something that would save me time and that I can show as an EXAMPLE of an application. I wondered whether I should have used an alternative example related to another problem? Maybe I should have focused on another problem? Maybe I was too impatient thinking that saving some time inputting data or using business cards was not an actual problem. Maybe I was being too smart arse about it?
Suffice to say, that the next day I headed over to the speakers lounge and REMOVED my QR code from the front page of my presentation (but I kept it on a couple of the slides) and then decided that I would EXPLAIN the process to enable people to remove the focus away from what it’s doing (capture contact details) to the idea of application and context to problem solving at work.
The feedback about my QR code turned out to be overwhelmingly positive. One person had come up to me excitedly and told me that she is going to explore now different ways to help her business teams automate processes. She simply wasn’t aware that she had available all these O365 products and how they linked to each other. She said to me “something clicked in my head”.
Another key lesson learned for me at LearnTec was the amount of people using Microsoft Teams. I asked the question “who uses Teams at work?” and all of the people in the workshop put up their hands. In my presentation, I explored ways to incorporate learning experiences within Teams channels and again, this was new to many people who had considered it “yet another tool that IT had implemented and that we had to learn”.
The highlight for me however, was the opportunity to have worked with Jane Hart in one of her sessions, “Designing a 30 Day Learning Campaign” and indeed, anyone who visited the English track of the conference was to come away with ACTIONABLE PLANS of how to build a Modern Learning into the Workplace. It was also an opportunity to learn more about the work that Jane Bozarth does in the USA and indeed the world, and also meet Brian Murphy to learn more about his work at AstraZeneca. Andrew Jacobs couldn’t tell us about the work he was doing so that’s something you’ll have to learn more about why (wink, wink).
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) January 30, 2020
If you ever have an opportunity to go to LearnTec, I would highly recommend it. I was told that with Learning Technologies UK being so close in time to LearnTec, that there are usually less people from other countries attending. I don’t know why this would be the case especially when attending overseas conferences that are not in your first language is a great way to immerse yourself in understanding another culture, another type of thinking and also understanding how you can potentially connect with people and customers who are different from you.
Did you go to LearnTec 2020 too? What was your experiences of it?