eLearning Network’s 25th Birthday Bash Review

What better opportunity to meet with industry friends one last time before Christmas than at the eLearning Network’s 25th birthday celebration! Elearning buffs from far and wide gathered at the Museum of London for a trip back in time through the last 25 years of technology, elearning and innovation, and a sneaky peek at the future and the most innovative learning technologies being developed at the moment.

We might not be able to conjure up the cakes and champagne we enjoyed that afternoon, but here’s our recap of what was a slightly different-from-usual event from the eLN. We came, we shared. And we drummed. Really!

Elearning: The last 25 years in review

A number of ex-chairs and members shared their memories of all things training and technology, kicking off with Bob Little who took us back to the time when computer based training and Margaret Thatcher were around. For those of the audience who were newcomers to the industry, it was great to hear about the evolution of learning over the past 25 years. The Kineo team covers both ends – some of us were designing learning in the eighties, some of us weren’t even born then. Old hands and new blood, both needed in the eLearning Network…

The eLN Room 101 vs the Hall of Fame

Things soon got interactive (and noisy) with Viv Cole introducing four major contributors to the eLN from over the years – Jonathan Kettleborough, Adrian Snook, Phil Green and Clive Shepherd – who were all tasked with describing two objects or concepts: one to go into the eLN Hall of Fame and the other into Room 101. Amid shouts of ‘cheat!’ and ‘bribe!’, Jonathan handed out party poppers to the audience while enthusing about enthusiasm – his contribution to the Hall of Fame. In Room 101, he passionately ditched labels, which we all agreed are a sometimes frustrating aspect of our lives in learning and technology.

Adrian Snook backed tablets for the Hall of Fame and Second Life to Room 101 as it ended up representing the world we know (he must have some strange looking friends!). Phil Green proposed that broadband should be in the Hall of Fame as we’re not the slaves to bandwidth that we once were. Somewhat surprisingly, he suggested mobile phones should be in Room 101, arguing that we should all go out ‘into the field’ more and get hands on, rather than just talking about what we want to do – a fair point! Finally, Clive Shepherd put knowledge management into Room 101, holding up an upside down Christmas paper-wrapped pyramid while explaining the tendency to over-analyse and create top down solutions. For his Hall of Fame object, we suspect he had a little more difficulty wrapping it as he held up a red ball representing Web 2.0 for its success in changing the world.

*Armed with party poppers, the audience voted Clive's Web 2.0 for the hall of fame and consigned Jonathan’s much-hated labels for Room 101.

Elearning: The future

Time to hear from the event’s sponsors, including our own Steve Rayson. He showed everyone something we’re particularly excited about at Kineo – responsive elearning for multi-devices. Responsive design intelligently adapts for different sized screens and device tips so that we can now develop a single solution which works across laptops, smartphones and tablets. Only the content that’s appropriate for each device is shown, even swapping animations for graphics, if necessary. 2013 is going to be the year of RED (that’s responsive elearning design) – but we might be slightly biased. To learn more about our developments in this exciting area, check out this video.


Something out of the ordinary now for the eLN – a drumming workshop in which we learnt that Kutamba means ‘to dance’ or ‘to play’ in Zimbabwe…and that is what we did! Some leading African performing artists led us through some (at times tricky) drum sequences, reminding us all of how it feels to be learning something new. Anyone in learning should always remember that feeling – what better way to empathise with your target audience?

Towards Maturity Benchmark 2012

One of the industry’s leading ladies, Laura Overton, then brought us back to the present day and revealed exactly where we’re heading with an early look at the results of the 2012 Towards Maturity Benchmark research. We’ve written elsewhere about the good work that Laura’s been doing – find out more here.

A keynote from Stephen Heppell

With a refreshing lack of PowerPoint presentation and armed instead with curated materials which flashed up on the screen from time to time, the highlight of the afternoon was no doubt Stephen Heppell – the man once called ‘Europe’s leading online education expert’. He passionately proclaimed the world is going ‘learning mad’, encouraging us all to make the most of the current economic climate in which learning is booming. Over the next 20 minutes or so, he went on to tell inspirational tales of seemingly unlikely or surprising learning including his view of a school for the future, in construction now, for children aged 0-21. Rather than moving through school years according to their age, students will progress as per their own rate of learning and development, graduating when they’re ready. Other stories included 98% engagement at a virtual school for children excluded from traditional schools, the mumology project of personalised degree paths for young mums, and other motivational – and moving – examples of why we should always try to learn from young people.

Heppell left us with much to think about and a key message stemming from his experience of coaching Olympic athletes – to expect the unexpected. “We live in a world where technology has taken us to the edge. So we need to be ready. And we need to learn how to be ready.”

Pecha Kucha annual grand final

Those of us who have attended previous eLN events knew what to expect from the final session. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit chat", pecha kucha rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. Responding to this challenge were winners from the last year, Phil Green, Martin Belton and Richard Hyde, with an imaginative mix of approaches ranging from Phil’s ‘PK The Opera’ (all together now! “Elearning just like opera has capacity to bore us. It makes no difference even if it has a jolly chorus”) to Richard’s ‘An e-Christmas Carol’ with learning ghosts of past, present and future. The 2012 grand winner was Phil Green, winning a brand new Kindle.

It was on that note that it was time to toast the eLN with champagne and to feast on delicious eLN-frosted cupcakes. We’re looking forward to more partnering (and maybe more drumming) with eLN friends into 2013 and the next 25 years. If you want to learn more about responsive elearning design and can’t wait that long though – just get in touch!