Keep juggling

How many balls can you keep in the air at one time? One of the most interesting stands at the World of Learning Exhibition and Conference in Birmingham this week was the Blue Beetle Training stand, which among other rolling performances featured a 10 minute tuition on three ball juggling. Reminiscent of Simon Finch's finest Pelecon 2012 keynote moment, the presenter - Graham David - worked manfully to convince passing, reluctant delegates to stop for a while, and engaging them by showing them how easy it was to learn to keep three balls in the air continuously. It was great audience participation, and quite entertaining to watch, too. Yet there was a serious underlying message to be received, too.

Juggling is not easy, and takes a lot of practice. But in one sense we are all jugglers, because many of us regularly keep many 'balls in the air' including a full-time job, childcare and family duties, voluntary work, and so on. How many of us would like tuition in how to do that successfully? Take the job of teaching - how many things do we need to do simultaneously to be an effective teacher? What skills do we need to not only keep our heads above water in our jobs, but also to excel, to become the best we can possibly be in our chosen areas?

Blue Beetle Training is one of a number of companies popping up in the learning and skills sector that focus on developing creative and innovative new ways to learn. We certainly need more of that. Creative learning is going to be a growth area in Learning and Development, because many are tired of the old ways of training in rows. We have the technology, but that is not enough. We also need a sea change in the way learning and development are conceptualised. Learning by doing, particularly if that 'doing' is situated in work practices, is arguably one of the most effective ways of training employees effectively. Problem based leaning, simulations, learning by making (constuctionism) and experiential approaches to personal development have all been shown to be highly effective. Couple these with social learning mediated through the personal tools and devices that most employees carry around in their pockets (but many employers currently ban), and you have a very powerful, sustainable and lifelong method to be workers skilled and productive. Exactly what will your organisation be doing in the coming years to teach your employees how to juggle?

This week the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition celebrated its 20th anniversary at the NEC, Birmingham, UK.

Photo by Steve Wheeler

Creative Commons License
Keep juggling by Steve Wheeler was posted from Birmingham, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported LicenseBased on a work at


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