Africa Trade Delegation visit Webanywhere HQ

Africa Trade Delegation

Africa Trade Delegation Department for International Trade

I was delighted to welcome a delegation of Africa Trade Advisors from the Department of International Trade yesterday. Mark Robson the Regional Director for DIT for Yorkshire and the Humber kindly invited people from Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Gambia and further a field to our City Exchange headquarters in Leeds.

Topics of interested included Education Technology on the African continent and how Africa is quite often ahead of Europe when it comes to the mobile adoption of technology. Many African countries have better wireless internet connections than fix line wired access.

Webanywhere hope to attend a number of EdTech conferences on the African continent in the future. With the population of Nigeria at 173 million and Egypt at 82 million there are big opportunities to drive up education standards in Africa with disruptive digital technology!

As Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Looking to Africa post BrExit might not be a bad idea!

Learning Technologies 2017, London

Webanywhere at Learning Technologies 2017

Webanywhere at Learning Technologies 2017

Early in February saw Webanywhere exhibit at London Olympia for Learning Technologies 2017. I have to admit the stand was the best designed yet and I was very proud to see some of the logos displayed of blue chip clients which we have grown over the years.

It was great to take one of our key customer UCLH to dinner and to socialise with the Workplace Learning team. This year we not only  talked about our and platform solutions but also about content services. Our Head of Learning Design Stuart Dyson had flown in from Katowice after missing his plane! Stuart was able to showcase some of the examples of our work and demonstrate our capabilities. Webanywhere now has instructional designers dotted across the globe in Chicago, Leeds and Katowice.

Sean with Gill of UCLH

Sean with Gill of UCLH

Webanywhere decided to offer content services a few years ago. In our experience platforms without content don’t get used. Content which talks to the LMS allows you to leverage big data for the learner, the teacher and the manager. You can then track people’s learning and use this feedback to enhance your online courses.

We now offer content to all our customers and this enhances the learner experience providing value for money on the implementation of your learning management systems.

As they use to say at my first job as youngster starting out content is king! And it most certainly is!


Pumpkin Soup

I was lucky enough to be invited to quartly dinner at The Mansion House on the edge of Roundhay Park, Leeds.

Alongside discussing the changing fortunes of the economy under Donald Trump and business confidence following BrExit food and entertainment was given by the Dine team.

Daniel Gill set up Dine 18 years ago and they have provided entertainment and event management for lots of businesses, private guests and even the Royal Family.

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!