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Phil Maynard, recently named the Top Community Contributor in the Charity Learning Awards 2017, talks collaboration, curation and the changing face of learning and development.

We’ve created an eLearning system with you, so learners can log-in directly from Office 365, which is neat! What are the benefits of doing this?

Visibility of eLearning and our learning management system (LMS) was incredibly low at World Animal Protection. Staff didn’t know where it was and if they did find it, they wouldn’t remember their username and password.

Moving to the Consortium’s new RoadMap Moodle LMS was a great opportunity to change the way staff accessed eLearning. Now, there’s an automatic shortcut from Office 365 directly to My Skills, our branded LMS. Being able to log-in directly from Office 365 has resolved the issues that we’d had.

Removing the login obstacle has meant we can promote courses, knowing that people can easily access the content. New starters also get automatic access.

We still have the challenge of making sure the content on My Skills is providing real value to learners. Work still needs to be done to align content to our staff learning and development approach. So it’s a work in progress.

What’s on your learning technology horizon?

I don’t think there’s a specific learning technology that’s going to change things, rather it’ll be how technology supports a change to the way we’re learning within organisations.

The buzz words at the moment are about curation. I think this is key, but we’re still working out what this means. Apart from specific courses that are focused on compliance, I think learning will become much more fluid. Systems will need to enable staff to rapidly find and use learning wherever it is – whether it’s YouTube, MOOCs or peer-to-peer learning – and that’s where curation will come in. Technologies that support internal communities of practice that are open across the organisation are going to be key to this.

When staff have a problem they need to resolve, they don’t necessarily go to their L&D manager to ask for an intervention to be put together. And nor should we expect them to. They look for information and knowledge about who’s done something in this area before, what works and what doesn’t, and what’s available in the wider world that will help them. Easy access to this type of ‘just in time’ content will become increasing important.

The challenge for L&D practitioners is to support and engage with these conversations, without controlling or missing them. The challenge for technology is to provide learners and L&D professionals with tools that enable these conversations and connections to happen in the open.

You’re often at our quarterly meetings, learning and networking with other charity L&D professionals. What do you see as the value of collaboration with your peers?

The quarterly meetings are incredibly precious times. Although my role isn’t primarily focused on learning and development within the organisation, I’m passionate about learning.

Having the opportunity to take a step back from the day to day work, be inspired by the amazing things others are doing, and engage in ongoing learning is incredibly important to me. I truly believe that if we’re going to inspire a culture of learning within our organisations then we need to make the time to practice it ourselves and feed our learning passions.

For me, a really key part of this is learning from one another. It’s something that I’d like to see even more of within the Charity Learning Consortium. We need to be working in this way, especially as this is a core part of the future of learning. Together we are a role model community of practice: we should be actively engaged in discovering and sharing learning, so we can take these cultures back into our workplaces. So for me, there is huge potential and value within the network. It would be good to see how this value can been realised to an even greater extent.

What would you like to pass onto others who are using learning technologies?

Tricky! I think I’m still trying to catch up with how people are actually learning in the modern world, and to then translate that into how we approach learning within our online activities.

I’m not convinced that eLearning is actually a separate thing anymore! I think it’s about connecting people with the opportunity to learn wherever they are, with whatever technology they have available.

As the major technology providers move to a mobile first, online first approach that works on any system, I think the type of learning opportunities we provide need to catch up.

How many of our learning approaches are accessible from any device, anywhere in the world? How does our learning approach support the sharing of learning between peers? Can staff access the ‘just in time’ learning content they need in the moment? These are the real challenges we have, so I’m excited to see how we move towards a more holistic approach to technology supported learning.

Phil Maynard is the Technical Programmes Administrator at World Animal Protection. He was named the Top Community Contributor in the Charity Learning Awards 2017.