Transferring Knowledge Across 3 Countries

Interactive Video with Promatum

Interactive Video with Promatum

Facebook, Snapchat and LinkedIn are all capitalising on the video opportunity. So you might ask why? And the simple answer is that during our busy lives videos is one of the means for grabbing people’s attention. Scanning down a timeline and flicking over images and text is less valuable than the pause made to watch a video.

With this in mind over the last 3 months I have filmed and interviewed members of staff across Webanywhere’s 3 international offices in Katowice, Chicago and finally back at HQ in Leeds. Starting with the end in mind the objective was to transfer knowledge. Rather than hiring a professional videographer I decided to buy myself a handheld HD video camera and ask the questions.

Having just returned from Chicago it’s is quite satisfying to realise I had filmed all the key members of staff. Capturing the content is one thing but how you distribute the content and then analyse it is another. That’s where Promatum comes in.

Promatum is a content management system for micro-learning and knowledge transfer, built on open source tools. What makes Promatum interesting is it’s ability to allow users to author and publish interactive content rapidly in your browser, directly on your website. Non technical staff can create highly engaging e-learning which ordinarily would need the intervention of a seasoned instructional designer.

Promatum allows you to creative interactive videos where pop up quiz questions appear at particular points on the timeline. You can even have videos embedded within videos. All the content produced is accessible not just on desktops but also mobile phones. User activity feeds an activity stream allowing you to monitor engagement on the site.

Video is here to stay, not just with social networks. LinkedIn’s acquisition of which was the biggest in EdTech history demonstrates the power of video. By adding a layer of interactivity on top of video, subject matter experts can start creating compelling e-learning content in a cost effective manner driving performance and knowledge transfer across your organisation.

More information on Promatum can be found at:

Child Friendly Leeds

Child Friendly Leeds

Child Friendly Leeds

A networking lunch at British Gas involved a conversation with Leeds City Council with their bid for European Capital of Culture. This may seem strange following BrExit but the surprise victory for Hull winning capital of culture a few years ago really lifted up their city building confidence and raising pride.

Child Friendly Leeds are looking at how businesses and the public sector could work together for the betterment of children. Whether it was bridging the attainments gap between rich and poor or simply making the city safer for children with better lighting and communal areas.

Leeds has an ambition to raise it’s game not just to be one of the best cities in the U.K. but to be the best. Tom Riordan CEO of Leeds City Council described personally how he had been helped through difficult circumstances as a child and how a teacher had encouraged him to take the OxBridge exam. Had he not been given the help his path would have looked very different.

One of the challenges in cities is when the living standards and education standards are raised the gap between rich and poor remains. The Council and businesses are discussing ideas of how stronger links could be made between schools curriculum and skills needed in business.

Apprenticeships and giving kids their first chance was discussed. Giving kids a chance that wouldn’t ordinarily deserve it based on their qualifications or the quality of their interview.

This was something that resonated with me. I’ve always liked to back an underdog. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but the decision to give someone a chance is what matters.

A young chap called Ashley has just left Webanywhere after 5 years. This was an example of giving a young person a chance. Ashley had been at the job centre with few qualifications and experience. We gave him his chance and he took it with both hands ending up as the top salesperson in the business for a number of years.

Webanywhere intends to work closely with Leeds City Council to help them bid for European capital of culture and drive the creative and digital agenda of the city. With cranes in the sky, the new Victoria Gate shopping centre, Leeds arena and further developments down Wellington street Leeds really is on the up. We just need Leeds United to be promoted to the Premier League!

Tom Riordan CEO Leeds City Council

Tom Riordan CEO Leeds City Council


The Associate for Talent Development (ATD) Conference 2016, Denver, Colorado

ATD 2016 Denver Colorado

ATD 2016, Denver, Colorado

Whilst I once attended a regional ATD chapter event in Chicago at McDonald’s Hamburger University, I hadn’t been to the annual event. The Association of Talent and Development conference this year was held in Denver, Colorado.

The convention centre in Denver hosted the ATD 2016 event and lectures were held downstairs whilst the main trade expo was upstairs. Walking round the event on Sunday as the stands were being set up we bumped into Elliott Massie the world renowned thought leader in learning and development. Elliott was easy to spot wearing his trademark red jacket. Talking to Elliott as he sipped on his ice tea he explained how he had been to the ATD annual event for the last 23 years. Elliott went on to state there is always an annual buzzword. Last years buzzword was “gamification” whilst this years would be “virtual reality”. Not bad from the chap who coined the word “e-learning”.

The conference has enlarged and contracted over it’s 23 years but today it was as strong as ever. This year 15,000 attendees and 400 exhibitors made up the conference. From the traditional leadership and management chalk and talk instructor led companies to hi-tech companies from Silicon Valley there was a lot of variety for the learning and development professional attending.

Sean and Brandon at ATD 2016 Denver

Sean and Brandon at ATD 2016 Denver

Attending one lecture from the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) an organisation based in Greensboro, North Carolina we learnt how Pitney Bowes a shipping company has delivered an online only learning experience for their managers globally. WebX was the platform of choice for the online facilitation.

The co-presenters of the CCL presentation had not actually met each other before the conference. They explained the importance to prepare, engage and assess. Before each WebX dry run practice sessions were conducted by CCL. Virtual tea breaks were introduced for participants to either have a drink or just stretch their legs to ensure engagement levels were maintained.

Online chats were encouraged to get group sessions running and a problem oriented approach was adopted. Managers were encouraged to bring a critical business problem to the course which they would try and solve. Some managers missed the odd session but sessions were recorded so they could be revisited, one of the major benefits in using e-learning.

The Centre for Creative Leadership was set up by the successful businessman H. Smith Richardson Sr who was behind the Vicks brand. After building the successful Vick Chemical Co. his attention turned to the question of leadership. CCL is a not for profit      with     the sole purpose to further the advancement of leadership and management. CCL counts the UN and Red Cross as organisations which they have helped over the years. CCL is not just in North America they have staff based in Belgium, Ethiopia, Russia, Singapore, India, China and in South Africa.

Ursula and Brandon ATD 2016

Ursula and Brandon ATD 2016

In terms of products which I found interesting was a web conference and virtual training tool called JigSaw. JigSaw based in Atlanta have created an interesting software which allows for online facilitation via four split screens. For the last 2 years JigSaw have won CIO awards so their small team of 9 must be doing something right.

Other ideas which I discovered at the conference included new content authoring tools for write once and deliver on many devices. GoMo Learning a content authoring tool and challenger to the likes of Articulate Storyline not only allows for mobile responsive HTML5 friendly output but they also offer a hosted option for content which can simply be embedded in platforms. This means when branding changes are made to content you don’t have to download and upload the content packages to your learning platform. You simply update once and your content updates on all your platforms via embedded codes. Better deployment and write once for many devices is said to half the time taken to produce content by instructional designers.

Finally, I was curious to see how Degreed was developing its platform. Points can be earned on Degreed based on learning hours and these can then be converted to cash as rewards for staff. The platform is the glue that links the likes of, Udemy, Google Books, Udacity and Coursera under one single sign on model. Other popular repositories such as Box, DropBox, Office 365 and Google Drive are also connected to Degreed. A plugin to web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox means Degreed can track all the learning a user conducts both inside and outside of the platform. The learner and their managers can see what learning has happened and their current skills can be linked to skill gaps needed for the future. Degreed can also be linked to popular Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Moodle to deliver both formal and informal learning.

Another interesting exhibitor was Apollo Education Group’s Innovators Accelerator. Not only was the learning experience of this platform innovative, the subject matter experts housed on the platform included big names such as Professor Clayton Christensen from Harvard University. The accelerator allows middle managers and leaders the ability to attend an innovation program online. Josh Painter VP of Product and Partnerships at Apollo stated “Most online learning is not engaging and so Innovators Accelerator was designed from the bottom up to ensure the learning experience was best in class.”

Overall ATD was showing the shift from traditional instructor led learning to the digital world. Whilst there were still plenty of training companies in attendance more and more companies demonstrated blended learning solutions combining both the online and offline approaches. Next year ATD 2017 will be Atlanta Georgia and it will be well worth a visit!


Entrepreneurs Exchange, Leeds Beckett University

Ella Woodward and Sir Charles Dunstone Entrepreneur’s Exchange

Ella Woodward and Sir Charles Dunstone Entrepreneurs Exchange

Earlier this month Ella Woodward and Sir Charles Dunstone spoke at the Leeds event for Entrepreneurs Exchange. The event sponsored by UKTI’s Exporting is Great and HSBC bank saw many events across UK cities held concurrently.

Ella Woodward is the heir of one of the daughters of the Sainsbury’s family. Her father is the former MP and cabinet member Shaun Woodward. Ella attended St Andrews University in Scotland but following graduation fell seriously ill gaining significant weight. Bed bound Ella started to develop gluten free healthy eating recipes and publishing to a blog. Ella now has 25,000 followers on Twitter and 6 members of staff. Deliciously Ella not only publishes the online healthy eating food blog but also some best selling books. Not bad for a 23 year old entrepreneur. Her advice is to be yourself, be enthusiastic and creative.

Following on from Ella was Sir Charles Dunstone. The billionaire mobile telecoms tycoon is not just the founder of the Car Phone Warehouse but also TalkTalk the telephony, TV and broadband provider. Sir Charles stated to be an entrepreneur you have to be a little thick. He went on to state he had just employed an executive who was Oxford educated completing a degree in Politics, Economics and Philosophy. This particular chap is so intelligent he often analyses data and makes one decision only to reverse the decision by analysing another set of data.

Sir Charles explained how his approach was to have a clear vision of where you are heading and stick to the course. You will get obstacles and barriers in the way but all you need to do is to find ways to go over them or round them. That’s why it pays to be a little thick as a entrepreneur otherwise you would never get started. Not bad from a person who is one of the world’s top 1000 richest people and a member of the Chipping Norton set.

Finally, Sir Charles talked about the importance of looking at your product and service from the customer’s point of view. Talk to your customers and listen to what they have to say so you can incrementally improve your business. Always look to simplify your business because as you grow things become more complicated. Without your customers you don’t have a business!


Communication Without Chaos – Connecting Teachers inside and outside school

Are you spending all your time sending emails? Round robin emails are a nightmare. Some people feel they should not be cc’d, others feel excluded when they haven’t been cc’d. Then there is the dreaded “reply to all”. So how can this chaos be solved and how can we collaborate better in teams? Progress and activities can end up in silos instead of being visible to the whole team.

Teachersanywhere brings all you need for teamwork in one place. Conversations happen in chats between teams of teachers. You are not met by an empty inbox. A powerful search allows you to look for other teachers’ skills and communication channels. It makes you more productive and more transparent as a school.

You make teams on Teachersanywhere which make communicating with the right department, faculty or year group obvious. Teachersanywhere also works on your mobile phone, making it a great way to stay connected.

Teachersanywhere is a new type of communication for teachers. What is different is, teachers can join teams and then join the conversation. You can also share links and search for other people’s skills when you need help. Only people in your team will see the communications. It’s totally private and secure. Everything you post on Teachersanywhere is searchable, making things easy to find. Teachersanywhere works the way you work, so if you are on the go you can start on your desktop and then pick it up on your mobile.

Send fewer emails, have fewer meetings. Remember, teams do amazing things!

Your can sign up here and start connecting with other teachers in and outside your school:


Moodle Moot Ireland & UK 2016, London

Martin Dougiamas Moodle Founder with Sean Gilligan Webanywhere Founder

Martin Dougiamas, Founder, Moodle with Sean Gilligan, Founder, Webanywhere

London’s Park Plaza Hotel recently played host to the annual Moodlemoot for Ireland and the U.K. People descended from around the world for the Moodle convention on the Thames in the capital. Over 350 people attended from all walks of life, including course creators, administrators, developers and business decision-makers. Whilst the majority of the audience were from the further education and higher education sectors, 25% of people came from the corporate sector. 9 Moodle Partners (including Webanywhere!) attended the Moot in order to show their support to Moodle HQ and to the Moodle community.

Moodle is the world’s largest open-source learning platform, and a new release is imminent – Moodle 3.1 will be released soon, and the priorities for the Moodle development roadmap include:

  • New default theme with no blocks and Bootstrap 4
  • Activity module overhauls
  • Easier integrations
  • Strong mobile support

Moodle tips

Matt Porritt MD of Catalyst, Melbourne, Australia.

  • Always upgrade your Moodle. Every version of Moodle gets better.
  • Challenge your staff and ask if you can see the latest Moodle backups.
  • There is a Moodle plugin for just about anything so this is worth searching for.
  • You can turn off some of the advanced functions of Moodle to make the user experience easier to use.
  • LMS analytics is becoming a big thing, providing you have enough Moodle data to poll. Analytics can be used to generate management information for student interventions and to inform which courses are working and therefore how to enhance your learning design.

Moodle has three main influencers for the product roadmap. The Moodle Partners (such as Webanywhere), the Moodle Association and Moodle HQ. A lot of resources in Moodle HQ have been placed in Moodle for Mobile and there are some huge benefits for Moodle here as lots of the Moodle modules work in offline mode. Moodle mobile apps can be branded for institutions that want them and then rapidly deployed to the Apple App Store and to Google Play.

Benn Cass and Conor Gilligan at Moodle Moot Ireland and UK, London, 2016

Benn Cass and Conor Gilligan at Moodle Moot Ireland and UK, London, 2016

Moodle in universities

The Open University’s Jenny Gray reflected on 10 years of Moodle at the OU. Moodle is still the learning platform of choice for them and has recently been chosen again by the OU based on student experience. The OU is now on their 3rd redesign of Moodle to allow for greater personalisation and flexible learning pathways. Furthermore, they have included streamlined tools in Moodle for better student support.

Jenny described some of the priorities as being critical feedback, showcasing work and comments. The OU has 20 developers plus business analysts and associated project managers managing their Moodle platform. They release Moodle updates on a quarterly basis. The OU’s Moodle averages 30k visits per day and they have over 100,000 users on their platform.

So what next for the OU? They’re focussed mostly on a quicker route to going live for content. They are also looking at improving their collaborative learning tools alongside their media player.

The OU’s wish list includes:

  • Better search
  • Single student profiles
  • In page discussions
  • Learning analytics
  • Progress indicators
  • Student archive

The pace of change of tech means the OU now review their learning on a 2-yearly basis. The OU are focused on infrastructure as a service and the benefits of going to the cloud. Going to the cloud will allow the OU to deploy with less downtime. The OU are one of the biggest deployments of Moodle out there, and it is seen by some that their decision to choose Moodle has since led to significant growth in the Moodle Project.

Chris Meadows shared Manchester Metropolitan University’s 5 year journey with Moodle. Moodle is the hub of the student learning experience for their students. Access to library systems and attendance registrations are all glued together via Moodle. They survey 35,000 students across 8 facilities to inform their future Moodle developments. Manchester Met have developed an automated audit script which runs each night on the Moodle. The results of the script produce a compliance checklist whereby learning technologists can review the quality of courses and engagement levels. This evidence is then used to train academics on how to better develop courses. Best practice checklists have then been developed to improve the quality of the courses and the learning experience. Moodle templates have been developed to help with the consistency of the learning experience.

Student voice is taken very seriously at Manchester and the top 3 issues from students were as follows:

  • Poor communication
  • Resources being made available before lectures
  • Some materials of poor quality
Moodlers at Moodle Moot IE UK 2016, London

Moodlers at Moodle Moot IE UK 2016, London

At Portsmouth University the theme of feedback continued. The need for feedback they thought was more important than the marks themselves. Students at Portsmouth need to give their feedback to get their marks released. Of course, the beauty of Moodle for students is that they can speed up or slow down the lectures!

The overriding themes of the Moot were feedback and analytics. We must get the right data to the right people at the right time. The Moodle Moot gave good insights into the latest trends and key drivers in educational technology. Moodle and the Moodlers demonstrated the Moodle community is as strong as ever.