Progressively I am getting less ‘work’ done at #LnDcowork as the discussions and questions are increasing amongst the L&Ders who attend our monthly co-working space. I’m not cross about the slight shift, as I know it ebbs and flows as it needs to. There will be time in months to come when #LnDcowork means a day of head down, coming up only to share a cup of tea. It is all fine. It is always what it needs to be for the people who rock up. lndcowork-sept-2016

What I have observed and learnt from recent #LnDcowork sessions is that clearly people are in need of a face to face discussion space. I think online provision works well, with Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Tweet chats like #LDinsight all thriving. But it seems currently, people are needing the human connection offered by face to face. Perhaps it is the back to school time of year. Perhaps it is the start of conference season. It doesn’t matter to me what causes these shifts, rather, that we notice them.

This Thursday (22nd September 2016) I’m involved in L&D Connect’s London Unconference (#ldcu16), which is happening simultaneously with events in Manchester and Nottingham. The open space Unconference format allows for discussion to move wherever the participants wish for it to go. It is always an interesting day as people get to talk to others about their passions and needs. I look forward to the day with great curiosity, especially as we video link up to the other concurrent events; will they come up with the same topics of conversation, or build an entirely different agenda? Roll on Thursday, I say.

In contrast, I recently spoke at the Learning Live conference on The Value of Free (#LearningLive #LL3B). The session was a practical, in an old school science lab way, connecting people unlike most conferences. Having introduced the concept of the Internet holding a wealth of resources that L&Ders can easily, quickly and cheaply tap into, we had a go in groups at using online tools to create learning assets. With the help of Ady Howes looking at video, Lisa Minogue-White with a group on audio, my group took a look at animation and powerpoint alternatives. In just 20 minutes we created several assets between us, a great achievement showing how easy some of these tools are to use. It was impressive how all the group’s participants connected. I love Learning Live for the lecture free zone approach and the very long coffee breaks, both of which allow for that ever valuable connection. In addition this year, Amy Burvall ran a Learning Live Creativity Zone which offered a connection previously unseen at mainstream conferences. It was a valuable experiment and I hope it catches on.

Everywhere I look it seems the need of L&D right now is creative connection. I’ve witnessed it at #LnDcowork, online and Learning Live. I even went on a conference call this week and was struck by my frustration of not having the chat function of a webinar interface to connect to the others on the call.

An additional facet of connection which has also occurred to me is the value of connecting to those outside our regular sphere of influence. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Jones (Knickers Models Own) for Learning Now TV. I encourage you all to learn more of Caroline’s fascinating story as LNTV airs on Thursday 28th September (https://learningnow.tv/ ). We can learn so much by looking outside of L&D.

As everything recently has been pointing me towards this clear need in L&D, I will hold connection strongly in my thoughts this week as I write my session on ‘Boost Management, Drive Business Performance’ for World of Learning. In the past, this annual conference has been offered in a more traditional format, and I am so pleased to have seen the organisers listening to L&Ders and making a concerted effort to grow their offering. The World of Learning now offers its delegates a whole range of experiences in an easy to access event. There are several coffee areas for those ever important chats. There are fringe events for the alternative and challenging views. There are panel discussions which offer a range of opinions to challenge your thinking in one session. And if all that sounds too much, there are traditional conference presentations for those who favour that approach too. Given what I have observed around L&D’s need for connection, I will endeavour to capture this impetus in my session and add even more variety to the already multifaceted World of Learning. I intend to introduce ideas and then just get out of the way of the delegate’s discussion. The value I bring is limited if I pursue to chalk and talk, as I don’t see that is where L&D is right now. We need to connect to each other and to others outside of our world. So don’t be surprised when my ever practical approach cannot help but push its way out. I can’t wait!

For tickets to London LnD Connect click here LnD Connect Unconference London

World of Learning is at the Birmingham NEC on October 19th & 20th For information and tickets, please click here https://www.learnevents.com/