Erik Wahl: Put Energy and Creativity Back Into Learning

Conferences Comments (1)

I just had the privilege of attending and presenting at Learning Solutions 2012 in Orlando, another great conference hosted by the eLearning Guild. Since this was my first time attending Learning Solutions, I discovered it had a great energy about it because people are there to learn.

In my opinion, a good conference offers something for everyone. This year’s Learning Solutions was no exception. There was a wide variety of sessions to choose from. As always, the eLearning Guild and Learning Solutions Magazine stitched together a finely crafted and relevant conference, starting with the keynote presentations. The Guild always brings great people to share amazing ideas with us. This year was no exception. All three keynotes were great; however, one stood out.

Erik Wahl keynote - Learning Solutions 2012I’m not sure I’ve ever been inspired so much by one keynote speaker. Erik Wahl spoke and – better yet – demonstrated of the art of vision. From the moment I walked in, I knew this was going to be different. On the stage sat three easels and some tables. Erik took stage and there was an immediate energy boost. The premise of Erik’s presentation centered around creativity and the importance of it in any organization. After a brief introduction, the song “Beautiful Day” by the band U2 began to play. Erik placed the first canvas on the center easel and began to paint. Instant engagement. The audience was transformed. In the span of one pop song, Erik created an amazing painting of of U2’s Bono. In the words of my 12-year-old, it was epic.

You’re probably asking yourself: “What does this have to do with learning?” As Erik drew the lines for us, he talked about creativity, the importance of it in an organization and how it transcends. After he finished the first painting, Erik asked for a show of hands of who could draw. Only a few people raised their hands, maybe because they were afraid they were going to be the next person pulled up on stage to paint. He then stated that if he asked the same question to a room full of grade schoolers, every hand would be raised. He pointed out that somewhere along the journey, we stop believing in our own creativity. Some of this he blamed on fear. We are conditioned to believe that we are not capable of creativity and that creativity is slowly taken out of our process. Erik continued to support his theory based on straight-forward examples tying it specifically to the challenges of building learning. Erik inspired us to more times during his presentation with his artistic skills and creative energy. At the end of his presentation people were buzzing with excitement and many people rushed the stage to have a conversation with him and to share their excitement and appreciation for his inspiration. I, for one, am going to get out my crayons more often.

Regarding the rest of the conference, there were many sessions and conversations about how mobile and cloud technologies are really enabling change in the way the we approach training today. There is so much happening in learning and development right now that it is very exciting to be a part of. I think most of us agree that with the evolution of technology in the last decade, we have expanded what our roles as learning professionals are. We are no longer thinking of learning as a single event learning happens everywhere all the time. Technologies such as cloud and mobile are enabling us to meet the learner at the point of need. I think we can all agree that formal learning is still relevant, the classroom and eLearning are still a necessary part of what we do. But now, we can supplement this type of learning by filling in the gaps and extending learning beyond a single event. In short, a motivated learner is more involved and has more control over what, how and where they learn today.

Erik Wahl keynote - Learning Solutions 2012There seems to be a shift happening in learning and development today – or, should I say, in how organizations are approaching learning. This brings up a big question: How do we measure what we do? We need to expand how we are currently doing it and moving beyond the standard Kirkpatrick level 1 and level 2 evaluations. We need to be looking at the broader picture of what people are doing as they go about their day – not only by looking at what training they consume, but how they are participating in social and informal learning.

Stay tuned to our social networks next week when Float will release videos I have with various thought leaders surrounding these ideas. I had discussions with Aaron Silvers, David Metcalf, Neil Lasher, Reuben Tozman and Tim Martin about what we can do to improve learning.

Finally, one of my favorite parts about the Guild’s conferences is their learning stages. These areas are always buzzing with activity and conversation. The themes for this year’s stages were management exchange, the cloud, learning media, and learning technology. One of the things I like about these stages is that there is usually heavy group participation because the audience gets involved. I love hearing the questions that people bring to these conferences, as well as their experiences on the related topic. This, to me, is the sweet spot in how we learned today. We learn mostly from conversations as learning professionals today we embracing these conversations through the use of social media and other informal learning opportunities. From a high level, conferences like this one really represent how learning should be approached in an organization. It starts with the backchannel, then weaves through to the formal sessions and the informal stages, and is threaded the together by the conversations in the hallways at dinner and even at the bar. While great as standalone activities, the ideas really comes together at the holistic view.

Who attended LSCon last week? What thoughts do you have about it?

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Jeff Tillett

Jeff Tillett has been working with computers and Internet technologies for nearly twenty years starting as a Graphic Designer and Web Developer. A survivor of the Internet boom, Jeff assisted many startups to successfully build business and ecommerce ventures. His first involvement in instructional design was as a developer for a distance learning Internet start-up. There Jeff and his team crafted a custom LMS as well as all of the content that went in it. Discovering he had a passion and knack for learning design, Jeff has worked for a number of companies as an Interactive Learning Developer and Instructional Designer including T-Mobile USA and Microsoft. At T-Mobile, Jeff lead a group known as the Innovation Team that advocated and piloted emerging learning technologies for the organization. There he built expertise in mobile delivery and design and bring that knowledge to Float as a Mobile Learning Strategist.

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On March 30, 2012
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One Response to Erik Wahl: Put Energy and Creativity Back Into Learning

  1. Susan Demoya says:

    I had the pleasure of attending this conference also. I totally agree with your insights. It was a fantastic, inspiring conference, and Eric Wahl was fabulous! I bought a new set of crayons this weekend myself!

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