L&D QuestionTime – John Hinchliffe

In a continuation of the L&D QuestionTime series we hear from this years finalists of the Learning Professional of The Year award.

This week we hear from John Hinchliffe of Virtual College


In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

A big anxiety I see is the ‘short burst’ world outside of L&D, which is influencing the learner’s attention span. Whether it’s a quick scan through Instagram or a Snapchat story, individuals are becoming used to relying on short effective information streams to satisfy their requirements. I see this playing a big part in the design of L&D in the future and providing the challenge of how we inform effectively within this attention span to aid retention. I think a positive of this will be an increase in the interactive nature of courses so that they really become truly engaging, which is not only a positive for the learners but also for instructional designers who can really let their creativity shine.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

Working with clients who push the limits of what is possible.

TED talks.

Wired magazine.

Looking at other industries whose work successfully meets the requirements of consumer behaviour at present and working out how it can be replicated into our courses. Some really great inspiration comes from UNIT9 and John St. Advertising agency.

Looking at various LinkedIn posts from solid sources in the L&D arena, notably Christopher Pappas and Toby Hewitt.

I’m also inspired by Lingos and how they are aiming to gain the help of the community in order to help educate the masses who might not have the chance otherwise.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

I think virtual reality is extremely exciting and if the tools to create this learning can be streamlined and made accessible to all developers, then we could see a real positive shift in how we currently learn. I feel that we are on the cusp of what is going to be possible in this area and I’m truly looking forward to how we can develop this to its full potential in the future.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

Rather than thinking about what technological advances I would like to see, I would rather be looking to “game change” the current level of basic online learning. Unfortunately there has been a period of time whereby individuals have only been exposed to “show and click” online learning and this has left a lasting negative impression of what online learning is with many individuals. From previous experience, I have been disengaged by the never ending blocks of text popping up whilst I quickly click the next button to get to my health and safety refresher assessment.

I would like to see all instructional designers and organisations challenge themselves to create and use truly creative and engaging learning experiences as their base model, as opposed to simply putting a photo and a big slab of text on every screen. This will not only be a positive for the future of online learning but also for all learners as we move away from learning they ‘have’ to do and shift towards learning they ‘want’ to do.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?

Mobile technology is shaping the way we live our lives and I think over the next four years we will see people using their mobiles to learn whenever and wherever they want. Over the last four years, we have seen apps such as Uber and Deliveroo change the way in which we live and fulfil people’s desires to have what they want, simply and quickly. I think mobile technology has the potential to truly disrupt the L&D arena we know at the moment, whether it be more streamed lectures or the incorporation of apps to engage a broader range of individuals’ learning styles. As our lives evolve so quickly, I feel we will need to rely on technology to meet these needs, which will flow into learning and development.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

I would love to be able to sit down and advise myself that you don’t have to work for a big company and wear a shirt and tie to be successful in your life. Instead, explore what the world has to offer and look at experiencing as many avenues as possible, and most of all, find out what you love doing and grab hold of it with both hands.

Also, help improve the lives of as many people as possible with your time and effort, rather than with money, and, lastly, learn how to dance properly and that donner meat is not an acceptable breakfast.

About John:

As Virtual College’s Content Production Manager,  John is responsible for the conceptualisation, design, development and delivery of online training solutions for a wide variety of customers.

His passion for delivering learning that works, drives him to carefully and creatively apply innovative learning design techniques and technologies to ensure maximum engagement.

Influenced by his time teaching English in the Far East and his love for retro gaming, he intuitively understands that great learning has an empathy for the learner at its core.

This approach has led to John and Virtual College winning a number of high profile awards including ‘E-learning development company of the year 2015’ at the Learning Technology awards.

Connect with John on LinkedIn

The winner of the Learning Professional of The Year will be announced at the 2017 Learning Awards on the 2nd February – for further information simply click here

Next week we hear from fellow finalist Darren Storrer

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