Get to know the eLN Director: Jayne Davids

eLN Director Jayne Davids has been involved in Learning & Development for over 20 years designing and delivering systems training. Combining her love for teaching and enjoyment of making videos, through her company, Raiveon, she provides Camtasia video training and video production services with her husband Kevin. Jayne enjoys connecting people and creating opportunities for people. She looks after the eLN Mentoring Scheme.

What do you like most about the L&D field? Being able to help people. I also enjoy working with people in L&D, they tend to have a ‘can do’ attitude and a willingness to help.

What made you decide to stand for the eLN board? At the annual conference a few years ago, an eLN Director suggested I should put myself forward. I was incredibly surprised at the suggestion ‘Who me?!’ After parking the ‘self-doubt’ and much encouragement from friends in the industry, I applied the following year.

What would your dream job be? This may sound a bit clichéd, but I really can’t think of another job I’d rather be doing. I run my own business with my husband Kevin, and I help people develop, so I’m #winning.

If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be? For the past couple of years, I’ve been increasing my knowledge of how to design accessible and inclusive learning content. I’d like to see L&D professionals creating learning experiences that are designed for all.

What does a typical workday look like to you? I’m usually sat in front of my computer screen, either editing videos in Camtasia, completing business admin, or hosting online training sessions. I take a break for lunch, sitting in the garden when I can. At the end of the workday, I tend go for a walk, often a ‘walk and talk’ with friends, either in person or on the phone.

What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver? In person, face to face. I design and deliver Camtasia video training and I love seeing people’s reactions when they experience lightbulb moments.

If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?  Have a bit more confidence and try get over the imposter syndrome.

What has been your proudest moment?  Bringing 2 boys into the world who are kind and considerate.

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?  1958 – I enjoy live music and dancing, especially rock & roll. Our company name is based on “Rave On” sung by Buddy Holly, it was our first wedding dance. It would be superb to attend one of his live gigs.

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? 
Scuba diving. I’m afraid of the water, I’m not a strong swimmer and I don’t like being out of my depth. I’ll probably never do it again, however, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to experience the amazing underwater world.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?  Having worked in the travel industry for many years I’ve had the privilege of visiting many different places. I am however writing the answers to these questions sat in a field whilst camping in North Devon. The sun is shining, there are magnificent views of the sea and fields, the sunset is incredible, there are not many places I’d rather be.
Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?
  • Be you
  • Be honest
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Network
  • Grow friendships

Tales from the home school from our Vice-Chair, Gemma Wells

I think we can all agree the past year has been crazy. It has been emotional, devastating, empowering, and forced us to rethink the way we live.

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I thought I would be working from home for an extended period of time while home-schooling my children, I’d have probably said there was no way.

Well, then the pandemic hit us all!
So, what has the last year taught me? Let me share my two key takeaways from 2020:
• I have zero patience
• People can create a blurred image of what reality looks like

You may be thinking those points come across as quite a negative experience but let me flip them on their heads.

Let’s address my first point. Home-schooling my 3 children whilst holding down a full-time job alongside my wonderful husband (also working a full-time job) was – how should I put it – Hell! Some days drove me to sheer breakdown, and I wondered if I was cut out to be a mother, let alone a functioning working adult. Other days I would see messages of encouragement from their teachers saying how well they had done on a piece of work and my lack of patience and teacher skills melted away.

Don’t get me wrong, that was soon replaced the next day when my oldest point blank refused to complete his maths, but you know what? This whole last year has been about the little wins! The things we can really be proud of – we kept ourselves and our children safe during a global pandemic, one of which none of us had experienced before and held down full-time jobs. That in itself is AMAZING!

My kids have come out of it learning some small life skills – like making their parents a cup of tea or how the washing machine works, and have also had the freedom to discover the area where we live like never before.

My second takeaway refers to social media stories vs real life. We all measure ourselves against others. In the dawn of social media, be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, we all looked at what others were doing to get through this “unprecedented” time (sorry I used the phrase everyone is sick of hearing!!) and we really shouldn’t have.

I saw a fantastic quote online that really resonated with me:
“We are all in the same storm but not the same boat”
We should totally continue to live by this phrase, even when we come out of this storm.

No two people’s situations are the same and no two people will handle things the same, so we should all just give ourselves a break: if you didn’t manage to make rainbow spaghetti and play doh today but you did manage to have a shower, then you are winning!

I know I am not going to win “mother of the year” anytime soon, especially if the judges hear me yelling “get your shoes and bags” for the millionth time in a morning! But with that in mind I should cut myself some slack – I have achieved quite a lot in the last year.

I have successfully worked form home alongside my husband, and we are still married. I have changed jobs in the middle of a pandemic and only met people virtually, but already feel connected to them. My kids continue to surprise me with their resilience and knowledge. And I have set up a webinar series with 15 skills development sessions for eLN members that has proved very popular! All from the comfort of my living room!

So let’s all embrace the little wins, as that’s what makes us who we are! And if you feel like you want to make Rainbow Spaghetti as you are fully winning at life, here is a link – enjoy!

Get to know the eLN Director: Hannah Gore

With over 20 years of L&D experience in face-to-face, online and blended, Dr Hannah Gore has led innovations in public and private sectors. Her achievements include leading a Business School in 93 countries, working with corporate giants, to creating content for circa 10m learners globally for The Open University for iTunes U, Amazon Kindle and YouTube, to name but a few.

Hannah is an advocate of lifelong learning, completing her entire academic studies online from undergraduate to doctorate, whilst advancing her career. Since formally completing her academic studies, she has gone full circle and is now also an Associate Lecturer in research methodologies and ethics at The Open University for their triple accredited MBA programme.

Since Covid-19, Hannah has created The Canonbury Consultancy Group, providing solutions and services on a wide range of L&D specialisms; she serves as a Board Director for the eLearning Network, is a Fellow at LPI, and sits on panels for think tanks, podcasts, and conferences, sharing her views on emerging technologies and the impact of social changes across the industry.

What do you like most about the L&D field? The field of L&D is constantly evolving and there are a growing range of sectors within the industry. With the pandemic accelerating online learning it has been a time of change and growth for L&D and so many of the professionals in our industry has expanded their networks to personally develop themselves to help advance the provision within their own organisation. What I like most about the L&D field is that we as professionals recognise the need to continually evolve ourselves to lead the development of others.

What made you decide to stand for the eLN board?
When I started out in the world of work, I always knew that I needed to always give back to the community. So, when places on the board became available, I wanted to stand for a place to share all the knowledge I had accumulated with others in the field. For the past 15 years I have been working specifically in online learning and we are at a crucially important time to share that information, as well as my experiences within both the academic and corporate worlds.

What would your dream job be?
What I do is genuinely my dream job: helping people become the best versions of themselves is why I get out of bed in the morning. I did not take the traditional route in adult education, only attending university from the age of 23 through The Open University whilst working full time there. Having taken this route with my studies gives me more drive to help others find the route best for them.

If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be?
That more focus was given to the development of L&D professionals. The focus of conferences, podcasts, etc. is on developments within the sector, with very little on the type of skills that L&D professionals need to develop themselves to become the leaders we need for our sector in their organisations. These include soft skills such as negotiation, presentation, communication, and business skills to work more seamlessly with their colleagues within their own organisations to advance the L&D provision.

What does a typical workday look like to you?
I’m freelance, so I work with a range of clients, often in different time zones, so sometimes I have early starts or late nights. After 21 years in L&D I’ve pretty much covered most roles in the industry, so I can be discussing and creating strategies, creating content, writing wireframes for learning platforms, analysing data, or researching and writing papers. No two contracts are the same, and I really enjoy the variety. I then work some evenings and weekends as an Associate Lecturer for The Open University to give back to the student community as an OU alumnus.

What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver?
I’ll be honest I love all types of training, because it’s not about me, it’s about the training, helping others to be better versions of themselves, helping companies become more efficient thus safeguarding them in these turbulent times, and helping business managers see the benefits and importance of continual development of their teams.

If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Never stop learning and developing yourself. Not just in terms of changes in the sector, but your skills and knowledge that you need to be the best version of yourself. I’ve always worked and studied at the same time and that also helps to give me insight as how best to design content and platforms for learners to undertake.

What has been your proudest moment?
My doctorate. My thesis dedication is: “This thesis is dedicated to my late father who taught me that I could achieve anything, and to my dog who has impatiently waited for me to finish.” I crossed the stage at my graduation with six of my closest friends loudly cheering, a very misty-eyed moment!

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
2000, the year I took the non-traditional work and study path and told myself that my instincts were right, and it would work out better than I then imagined.

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
That is a tough question! My favourite superhero is Wonder Woman. I love her not for her superpowers, but her confidence, insight, and phenomenal female independence.

If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
My late father. I miss him a lot, he passed away when I was 23 so never go to attend any of my five graduations. I know he would be really proud and then we would discuss the changes in motorsport as we used to watch every F1 race together and talk about our next track day. I would forgo the other three guests for that moment.

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? I’ve always been petrified of bridges, but 10 years ago whilst I was in Ireland, I decided to face my fear and cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope brick in Northern Ireland. It’s 20 metres in length and a 30-metre drop to rocks and sea below. It was a cold, rainy and very windy day so the bridge was bouncing and swaying, but I crossed it anyway to only discover that you had to cross it again to get back to the mainland! Afterwards I had a very stiff drink at the local whisky distillery, and I am the proud owner of a certificate to commemorate my crossing!

What three items would you take with you on a deserted island? Definitely a copy of the complete works of Jane Austen, my dog Toby and his favourite treat Dreamies (he thinks he’s a cat), otherwise I’d never have a peaceful moment!
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Probably Spotify or Audible. I have limited time to read a physical book, so I have my Spotify and Audible apps to listen to podcasts and books as I’m walking Toby, doing housework, etc.

Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?
1. If you are unsure, ask. The community is full of amazing and helpful people.
2. Networks are your strongest ally, you learn so much from other people, the eLN tea & talks are a great way to meet people.
3. Take advantage of all the great resources, from websites, webinars, newsletters, podcasts, etc.
4. Get to know all the different areas of L&D to find your happy place.
5. Remember to always be developing yourself – you can’t blaze a trail if you’re not at the front of the queue.

The Supercharged Learning Professional: Turning disruption into advantage

We’ve started to share early insights from our research study because they reveal a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Learning Professionals to ‘Supercharge’ their impact.

There’s no doubt that work has been disrupted, but how are Learning Professionals choosing to react? Are Learning Professionals taking the opportunity to turn this disruption into advantage?

On Thursday 17th June in a virtual meeting, eLN Director Dr. Hannah Gore and PeopleStar’s Jane Daly shared early insights with eLN members and participants of our recent research study to tackle these critical questions and much much more.

At the event, Hannah and Jane presented the key findings and took the opportunity to explore a number of areas where many Learning Professionals seem to be getting stuck. As well as sharing the key results and themes, they also ‘stress tested’ 5 essential elements that leading learning professionals integrate into their work and well-being to ‘supercharge’ their value & impact. The 5 elements act as guiding principles and were revealed as part of this exclusive session.

If you missed the event but want to hear more, Hannah and Jane will be presenting one of the (free) sessions at the Learning Technologies Digital Experience – on 2nd July at 15:30. At this event, they will be delving deeper into the insights and guiding Learning Professionals to self-assess their practice against the 5 key ‘Supercharging’ elements. Click here to obtain your complimentary conference pass and book the session.

And look out for more information about the study in the July newsletter!

How’s your Cognitive Load?

If you work in L&D you may have come across the term ‘cognitive load’ or even ‘cognitive overload’. It’s often used when talking about digital learning as it refers to the amount of working memory being used at any particular time. Give it too much to think about at once and you are increasing the risk of cognitive overload.

Let’s start with the basics, what is cognitive overload? The British Council Teaching English site defines it as:

“A situation where the teacher gives too much information or too many tasks to learners simultaneously, resulting in the learner being unable to process this information. In this situation, the language processing demands of an activity go beyond the language processing limits of the learner. It produces anxiety and stress, as well as affecting learning.”

This definition is specifically for teaching language, so what about everything else?

Connie Malamed wrote an interesting article that looked at working memory and how it can be vulnerable to overload, you can read her article here. In the article, Connie describes how when we learn we create schemas that then are integrated into our long-term memory. In a nutshell, we take pieces of information, process them and they stick.

This is one of the most basic concepts of learning.

You see something, you do something, then you keep doing it and it becomes natural, it becomes a habit.

In 2009, the European Journal of Social Psychology suggested it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a habit.
Let’s get back to cognitive overload.

Looking at the range of time it can take to form a habit, I can understand why there is such a variation. For example, think about how long it took you to learn to drive.

Why am I using that example? It comes back to cognitive load. You have so much going on, driving in a straight line, looking for hazards, changing gear… the list goes on, so it typically takes a long time to learn to drive properly and safely. That’s because your brain is taking the new skill you are learning in your working memory and creating schemas that incorporate into your long-term memory.

Another driving example for you, how many of you turn the music down in the car when you are looking for a street name? I know I do. That’s because the music is creating extra stimulation, it is making our brains work harder so we turn it down to see better.  That’s how I explain it to my husband when I do it.

Switching over to our wonderful world of digital learning. I once had some feedback about the background music in my video making it hard for the learner to concentrate on the process being explained with the screen recording and voiceover. For that person they already were looking at the screen, listening to me talk, and seeing a red highlight box. The addition of a low background music track was just too much. So I removed it.

Why did I have it there in the first place? Because I wanted something to break up the sound of silence.

Did I think about the effect it would have on the learner? No.

Did I consider how much stimulation I was including in my video? No.

Did I consider people with impairments? No.

What I did was include a piece of music at the introduction as the title of the course is stated and then faded it out.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I have ever been given was on a TAP course for Visual Impact, and it was: do not fear white space.

I never thought about it for anything else other than images. I didn’t realise it can go for video too, the background music for example.

Or how about things flying about in the background as you have text boxes popping up.

What should the learner focus on?

What do we want their working memory to focus on to start creating schemas?

What can you do?

Keep It Short & Simple

One of the ways you can reduce cognitive load is by using the KISS principle.

If the learner has to look up one of the words you’ve used in your training content, then they are using their working memory trying to figure out what you are saying. So if there is a simpler way to say something, KISS it.

It the content has a point and has to be there then keep it, if it’s just a filler then scrap it. Also, try to cut down the amount of content and concepts on each screen or page depending on what type of content you are building.

Don’t fear the blank space

Think about the impact having one word on a page has. Compare it to one word popping out of a word cloud or a word surrounded with lots of images. Silence and blank space can be good, it allows the learner to focus on what they can see.

Practice makes perfect

Remember it takes 18 – 254 days before something is a habit, if you are training a skill then you need to get the learner to practice. You can’t expect a learner to do one course and then remember it a month later without putting those skills into practice again and again.

Variety is the spice of life

Give your learner an opportunity to take content away. Some people really hate video and prefer workbooks, I’m the opposite, I love video learning and I take lots of notes to make it stick (building that schema) which I often don’t look at again. If you are giving a presentation, giving variety it can be as simple as giving the learners a copy of your slides.

It may not be feasible to create your course in multiple formats, just remember you may have that one learner who really really wants a PDF which they can sit in peace and quiet and read through.

Cognitive load can be reduced for some people when they have their learning given in multiple formats, video, text eLearning etc.

Final Thought
Don’t ignore cognitive load theory, do your research, and try to understand it.

And then do everything you can to reduce it for your learners.

Imposter syndrome; who, me?

If you have not heard about imposter syndrome, the chances are you may have felt some of its effects. Imposter syndrome basically makes you feel like you are not as competent as others think you are. Think back, have you ever:

  • Thought your achievements are due to luck?
  • Feared that your colleagues will discover you are a fraud?
  • Responded to positive feedback with “oh, you’re just being nice”?
  • Told yourself you “got away with it” when you succeeded?
  • Turned down an opportunity because you would have been exposed as inadequate?

If you have answered yes to any of these, you are not alone! High achievers such as Michelle Obama and Sheryl Sandberg have shared their thoughts and feelings when their imposter shows up.

"I still have a little impostor syndrome, it never goes away, that you're actually listening to me.”

Michelle Obama

Who experiences imposter syndrome?

The paradox of imposter syndrome is that it is often experienced by highly capable people. However, they seem unable to acknowledge and own their capabilities. Believing they will be unmasked; they can be driven by anxiety to strive and overwork.

Back in the 1970s when the term first appeared in the work of Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance, it was thought that imposter syndrome was experienced only by women. More recently it has been recognised as something all of us can experience. See Health Education England’s Chief Information Officer’s account of his experience. I like his comment that he is ‘not cured his imposter syndrome but made peace with it.’

Why do we need to tackle our inner imposter?

  • We could hold ourselves back and not make our full contribution.
  • We can have low confidence and self-esteem.
  • We might procrastinate only to make up for it with over-work.
  • We may suffer stress and burnout.
  • We could become a perfectionist manager, nit-picking others’ efforts.

What causes imposter syndrome?

As with so many of our ingrained ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, experiences in childhood can loom large. High expectations of success and perfection follow us into adulthood. This can often become personality traits, such as perfectionism and striving to improve.

Being the first in your family to go to university, particularly for those studying science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects that can have a competitive culture can create imposter syndrome too.

Another cause could be comparing yourself to others, this can spark feelings of inadequacy, amplified by social media.

10 steps to make peace with your imposter syndrome

  • Check what output your manager needs when they delegate: a first draft, a summary, or a detailed proposal? Do not deliver a dissertation if simple points are all that is expected.
  • Take a tip from Sheryl Sandberg: “Done is better than perfect.”
  • Identify your strengths and use them well. A free questionnaire is available on VIA Institute on Character.
  • Ask for feedback: what worked well? What (if anything) can be improved? Take constructive feedback professionally, not personally.
  • Take credit gracefully rather than brushing it off; as soon as possible note it word for word.
  • Gather your evidence: reflect on your good work, positive feedback, and results. Then, if your imposter shows up you can prove them wrong.
  • Work with a mentor to get a broader view of your workplace and/or your profession.
  • Let go of those crushing comparisons.
  • Build your buddy network; people you can trust to support you and who you can support in return.
  • Stop telling yourself you will be ‘found out’ and start telling yourself that you are steadily improving.

Final thought

Please look after yourself. If your imposter is constantly giving you negative thoughts and feelings which are causing a persistent low mood, seek support from your friends, family, and peers.

Sometimes it helps to have others reinforce that you are amazing.

Get to know the eLN Director: Asli Derya

What do you like most about the L&D field?  The creativity and the impact it can have. Learning is all around us, we as humans learn all the time, we may not do it as intended, but it happens. That’s how human progress has been happening for centuries. So I like how relatable the field is to human experience. Oh, also the fact that people in L&D are good company does help.

What made you decide to stand for the eLN board?
I became a member of the eLN after attending one of the Connect conferences. Everyone was so wonderful, I’d met so many great minds in one day I decided to become a member straight away. As time passed, I wanted to be more involved in the community and grow my network which was the reason why I decided to stand for the Board. And I must say anyone who is out there thinking about it, just do it. It is a great experience and you learn a lot about how to navigate in a non-profit landscape and grow your personal brand as well as network and it’s a great way to give back to the community too.

What would your dream job be?
Well, I like to think I am doing a job I quite like actually. But of course, if money or skills weren’t an issue I probably would want to be a screenwriter. Imagine typing away on a remote island with the summer breeze, Pina Colada in one hand…

If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be?
Business perception of seeing it as a cost centre. Yes, we have a lot of responsibility in showing the value of L&D but I think businesses need to understand without ‘learning’ they are not going to get far. A business world where L&D is discussed in the C-suite as part of financial decisions, or any other decisions would make a whole world of difference.

What does a typical workday look like to you?
Well, it looks very different now than it did a year ago! But roughly (and boringly): wake up, coffee while playing with my son, have breakfast, logon, read emails, meetings, have another coffee….etc., have lunch (sometimes at my desk, bad habits!), work more, meetings, or actually designing stuff, run downstairs for a sweet top-up, finish work, go for a walk then family time. But being in front of a PC the whole day, sometimes I started to make a conscious effort to do analogue work. So for example, if I am working on a concept, I’ll just sit on the floor, writing on flipcharts. It’s quite therapeutic too actually.

What book are you reading right now? Or what podcast are you listening to?
A bit late to the party probably as both of these books have been out a while but I’m concurrently reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Joint Winner of the Booker Prize 2019) and Invisible Woman by Caroline Criado-Perez. Both of which make a riveting read. Podcasts… I really want to but I am not good at sticking with podcasts, so I listen to one here and there. But from our world I think a few are worth a mention: Andrew Jacob’s Women Talking About Learning, Mike Bedford’s Well&D podcast, and John Helmer’s The Learning Hack.

What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver?
I love making videos. It might be because in my last role I worked on numerous videos, but I like the diversity and creativity it offers. Seeing the raw footage and making something meaningful out of it is quite beautiful. Plus, it’s a very handy skill to have and transferrable, made a few family and friends videos that were very well received.

If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Don’t think just because you thought of it, others must’ve done as well. People think differently so if you notice something or have an idea, say it. Your contribution counts.

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
I don’t think I’d want to travel back in time, to be honest. I’d much rather go to a distant future like 2150 and see what we made of the world. Probably would depress me more mind you!

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
Teleportation would save so much time than sitting on planes, and probably be super COVID safe!
Also wouldn’t mind invisibility, keeps you safe and you could observe a lot!
And I think there’s a market for a superhero who can function with no sleep, I wonder why no one came up with that…

If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
“Joey doesn’t share food!” 😊 But beyond the Friends reference there, I’d love to have a meal with Frida Kahlo, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Oprah. Because they are all amazing women, and can you imagine the stories they’d have!

What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
* Bug repellent -because I’m terrified of bugs unless it’s a ladybug, then I’m just mildly scared.
* A knife – handy thing to have to hunt, cut, shape…etc.
* Change of clothes -because I hate being wet or cold!

Would you rather win the lottery or work at the perfect job? And why?
Win the lottery 100%. Because then I can create my perfect job. I think as humans once we are able to remove the financial obligations we are more able to think about our purpose, what is meaningful to us.

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Depends, do we count the internet as a necessity yet? How about coffee first thing in the morning?

Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?
* Learn from your team
* Do a fair bit of horizon scanning
* Practice what you preach
* Be known for something (have an expertise)
* Network, network, network

Evolutionary psychology – the missing link

Being human-centred in learning design is not just about understanding all you can about the specific audience you’re designing for; you should also seek to understand humans as best you can in general. An area that we find very enlightening is that of evolutionary psychology.

Evolutionary psychology is a way of considering how observed modem behaviours might have been advantageous to our evolution. Essentially, it extends Darwin’s thinking on natural selection to how our minds and behaviours have evolved. It helps us to make sense of modern human behaviour which, on the face of it, seems illogical and counterintuitive but, when considered in the context of human evolution, starts to make a lot more sense.

For example, we are probably the most social of all species – and with good reason. We are not top of the food chain because we are stronger, faster or fiercer than other species. We are here because of our ability to collaborate with others and in order to collaborate we need to build trusting relationships. Quite simply, we’ve evolved to seek connection with other humans because there is an evolutionary advantage to it.

It’s why even those who seemingly shun human contact still spend their time reading books, listening to music, watching films and television or gaming. These are all ways that we get a window into another human’s mind – it’s a form of connection and we instinctively reach for it.

Look at the huge numbers of people on social media. For a species that has evolved to seek human connection, social media really hits the sweet spot. It’s a way we can ‘connect’ to more humans more easily than ever before – it’s why it’s so highly addictive.

Additionally, I have observed in myself and others that happiness with a situation is relative. If you believe you have more of something positive than those around you, you generally feel more happy and satisfied. If those around you have more, however, you are likely to feel less satisfied. It is natural for us to compare ourselves with those around us – our tribes – and strive for higher status. The trouble now is that with social media, ‘our tribe’ is much of the global human population.

So what does this need for human connection mean for those of us in the business of helping humans learn and adapt to rapidly changing situations (i.e. anyone involved in workplace learning)?


● Knowing that we instinctively seek human connection, don’t remove it from a learning experience and expect it to be successful (traditional elearning courseware, for example). Instead allow people to connect to peers, experts and tutors and design in clear benefits for doing so.
● Be mindful that connecting online is not the same as connecting in person. It takes longer to build trust and you need to allow time and space for this. Designing purposeful reasons for people to connect online will help.
● Seek to engage with your learners’ emotions, both in the learning experience itself and the communications and engagement campaign around it. Use storytelling, anecdotes and humour. Use friendly and inclusive language and imagery.
● Make use of positive peer pressure. We want to fit in and, even better, feel like we’re one of the cool kids (have higher status). Find the people who already excel at what you want others to learn and make them visible. Let others learn from and aspire to be like them.

A consideration of evolutionary psychology absolutely does not remove the need for user research; rather it’s an additional lens we can look through to gain deeper insight. It’s a fascinating field and one which has helped me to make sense of the often bizarre, sometimes self-destructive and counter-productive behaviour I observe in the wider world.

About Rob Hubbard

Rob is the founder of LAS, a human-centred digital learning agency. At heart he is a designer through and through, who is fascinated by how we learn, what we remember and why. He is a great enthusiast of all that technology can offer to enhance learning and has completed a huge variety of projects in his 20+ year career.

He is a conference speaker and the editor and co-author of The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual published by Wiley and featuring contributions from the brightest and best digital learning minds on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a former Chair of the eLN.

The Future of L&D: A Manager’s 2021 Guide from eLN Industry Partner, POWTOON

As you’re kickstarting 2021, now is the perfect time to rethink the strategic role of your L&D team. Depending on your company size and priorities, a strong L&D strategy focuses on the following initiatives: 

  • Upskilling and reskilling employees 
  • Creating a continuous learning culture
  • Delivering on-demand training
  • Building an employer brand   
  • Driving peer-to-peer learning 

But as you know, the challenge facing L&D teams isn’t coming up with new initiatives. Rather, it’s being able to execute and package these initiatives into fresh, exciting, and bite-sized learning experiences that employees will love and care about.  

Whether delivered in a physical or virtual setting, making sure your learning experiences are visually engaging will determine how “successful”, “forward thinking”, or “tech-savvy” your team is perceived in the eyes of employees and company leadership. 

An Atlassian blog noted it’s likely that 65% of your workforce are visual learners. That’s because our brains are wired for visual information, the Entrepreneur blog found visual information is decoded 60,000 times faster than written text. Written information in the form of PDF manuals, emails, and presentations, fail to provide valuable context or convey important emotions like trust and empathy.  

So, instead of relying on text-heavy communication, old-school PowerPoints, and outdated training courses, why not consider a new approach to learning — one that leans on visual communication and engages employees on a deeper level?

At Powtoon, we’ve been helping L&D team leaders and senior managers do just that. We’ve produced this guide full of actionable tips to help your team package every initiative into a visual learning experience that bridges employee skill gaps and brings measurable results to executives. 

Download the whitepaper.

About Powtoon

Used by 30M+ people worldwide, Powtoon’s all-in-one visual communication platform empowers organisations to transform complex and scattered information into powerful videos and visual content with a professional look and feel. 

Powtoon’s rich visual library and collaborative workspace make visual communication enjoyable to create, simple to manage, and quick to distribute. If you’d like to know more about creating animated explainers, whiteboard tutorials, training videos, screen recordings, and more, get in touch!

About the author

Sapir Segal is the Enterprise Product Marketing Manager at Powtoon. Her work is driven by a consistent, unwavering belief in the power of storytelling and how good product narratives help build long-lasting brands that connect with customers.

Get to know the eLN Director: Kim Ellis

Kim Ellis

I have been a member of the eLN for 4 years. I was co-opted to the Board in May 2020 and became an official Board Director in November.  After being made redundant in 2017 I decided to try the life of a freelance consultant and created Go Ginger Learning Solutions.

What do you like most about the L&D field?
I love the variety; with each new contract I get to up my skillset or use different software. I also love how so many people in this field give back by helping each other and sharing ideas.

What made you decide to stand for the eLN board?
During the first lockdown I was attending eLN virtual events and suggested we could start hosting a coffee morning once a month for members to drop into. Soon after this the eLN Chairperson Joan Keevil asked if I would like to be co-opted to the board: I jumped at the chance. The eLN is a great group of people all working hard to help our members. When the elections came around in November, I put myself out there to see if our members wanted me on the Board too. I was super chuffed to be elected.

What would your dream job be?
I love doing what I do. The variety, the people, the technology. I dream of building up Go Ginger Learning Solutions to a point where I would have a my very own team.

If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be?
SPAM! I know people have to promote themselves and I’m in the same boat. If you have something interesting to discuss, great. If you want to start a debate, fantastic! Just don’t harp on about business/your company and contribute nothing else.

What does a typical work day look like to you?
I usually work an 8-4 day although that changes depending what I’m doing or who I’m working for. What I do during the day varies: at the moment it is mostly writing video scripts and creating software demo videos in Camtasia.

What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver?
As I said before I love the variety this job gives me, so I don’t have a favourite. I really enjoy building videos, eLearning, classroom, virtual and whatever else I need to turn my hand to in order to get the job done.

If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Don’t wait to quit! If the company you are working for won’t let you grow your skillset then find a new company. Your development is just as important as everyone else’s.

What has been your proudest moment?
Professionally speaking, finally having the confidence to set up on my own as it was something I had wanted to do for years. Also finally achieving my Diploma in L&D from The Training Foundation (TAP).

Personally, there are a few to choose from but one which I still get giddy about is when I met William Shatner at a Star Trek convention.

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
I wouldn’t go back in time; I would prefer to go to the future. I want to know what happens next! Will we have reversed climate change in 100 years? What will L&D be doing differently? Will we get visited by people from other worlds? And will there be world peace or will it be more like the Hunger Games?

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
Teleportation: flying is great but much easier to just think and blink. I could spend the day on a beach in Saint Lucia and then be back in time to cook tea.

If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
William Shatner, of course, would be my top pick so I could just go full Trekkie.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, since the 80s I’ve loved ‘most’ of what he’s been in.
Joan Crawford fascinates me along with that old Hollywood era, I bet she has some stories to tell.
Dan Levy – I’ve just finished watching Schitt’s Creek and would love to chat to him about the characters.

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
The day after I got married I talked my husband into going abseiling. It was up a mountain in Saint Lucia, off a rusty bridge into a gorge and the ropes got stuck. Basically, we were just hanging 70 foot above the rocks and a stream while our legs were going numb…it was one of the daftest things I’ve suggested as there was only 1 guide and we were miles from anywhere.

What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?

  • Sunscreen, I’m ginger and pale so that goes without saying.
  • Sunglasses, so I don’t get squinting tiger lines in my little bit of a tan.
  • Scrunchie, the natural state of my hair is unruly so it spends most of its time tied up.

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
My herbal tea. At the moment it’s either Peppermint, Chamomile or Chai. I don’t drink milk so I have to always have a good selection of tea on hand.

Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?

  • Be confident in yourself and your skills.
  • Find a skill you are great at but also be good at other things.
  • Build your professional network and join the eLN!
  • Be visible on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Last but not least, always keep learning.

Top tips for managing remote teams from eLN Industry Partner, The Charity Learning Consortium

Annabelle Price from the Charity Learning Consortium shares some tips for managing teams remotely.

Teams working remotely must have the support they need to thrive. Here are five things you can do that will make a big difference. The tips are taken from a new series of free, animated videos which sit alongside other great content in the Clear Lessons library, created by the Consortium for all charities to freely access. Why not share them with your organisation to make working life easier?

1. Set clear goals and expectations. Make sure everyone knows what’s required of them, so they know what they need to do to be successful. A simple document or spreadsheet will keep everyone on track. Make your team aware of larger organisational goals too. This information will help people understand how their everyday tasks fit into a bigger picture. Your team’s goals should be SMART ones and also align with your organisation’s vision.

2. Respect boundaries. Speak to your team and ask them how they would like to work. This is the first step in understanding what the working day should look like for your people. Let them set their own working patterns and then respect these times. Ensure that everyone shares and uses their calendars to make working patterns clear. Burnout amongst teams will still happen if working hours are not respected.

3. Encourage people to take regular breaks and not work during time off.  Keeping a healthy work-life balance is even more important when people are in their home environments. It can be easy to do an extra hour in the evening if you’re working at your kitchen table, and not even notice the time. Create a culture where your staff know they can fully switch off at the end of the day. Try not to commend extra work, completed outside of someone’s normal schedule, as ‘going above and beyond’.

4. Help your staff create safe workspaces. Everyone needs a functional, safe and healthy working environment. This isn’t a ‘nice to do you’: employers are legally required to ensure people have the right set up to work safely. Find out more information from the Health and Safety Executive.

5. Encourage your people to get talking.  Misunderstandings can arise when you just rely on email or messaging apps. Lead by example and use video calling instead. Using software like Microsoft Teams gives staff easy access and avoids them using their personal telephone numbers. Some things to remember when using video calling:

  • Limit the amount of time on video calls – an hour max, with lots of breaks in between
  • Support people to become comfortable and proficient using this type of software
  • Be aware of and cater for different abilities and any disabilities when using this type of technology

Watch now: Here is the full animated video from our Clear Lessons platform.

Watch the full Working Through a Pandemic animated series here.

Annabelle Price is a Marketing Executive at the Charity Learning Consortium. Previously working within a charity setting, she has a passion for working with third sector organisations. She enjoys learning about the amazing work Consortium members are doing and sharing their successes.