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The Learning Hack podcast

Business & Economics Podcasts

What are the significant innovations shaping the future of learning? How is digital technology and scientific discovery changing the way we learn, train, teach and educate? Join John Helmer in conversation with the people who are visioning and actively creating that future. Published fortnightly (don't forget to subscribe!).


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What are the significant innovations shaping the future of learning? How is digital technology and scientific discovery changing the way we learn, train, teach and educate? Join John Helmer in conversation with the people who are visioning and actively creating that future. Published fortnightly (don't forget to subscribe!).






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LH #87 The Pirate Code with Lauren Waldman

Lauren Waldman is a learning consultant, educator, and the founder of The Learning Pirate. She is a certified training and development professional and has received qualifications in Neuroscience from Harvard and John Hopkins University, and in Medical Neuroscience from Duke. She works with organizations to create bespoke, scientifically designed learning programs using the latest cognitive and behavioural science. But with whole learning and development departments being laid off currently, she believes the profession faces an existential threat. Could embracing neuroscience help to prevent its demise? Follow Lauren Contact John Helmer


LH #86 The L&D Detective with Kevin M. Yates

Kevin M. Yates is known in the global training, learning, and talent development community as the L&D Detective. He investigates impact and solves measurement mysteries with facts, clues, evidence, and data. His rigorous but pragmatic approach is informed by 25+ years industry experience serving in diverse roles across multiple industries and brands including Grant Thornton, Kantar, McDonald’s, and Meta (Facebook). Kevin talks to John about how he see the current state of learning evaluation in organisations – he's optimistic – and what AI holds for the future of his practice. The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results, By Roy Pollock Andrew Jefferson Calhoun Wick Follow Kevin Contact John Helmer


Hack in Ukraine - Ep3: Coming Home, feat. Yuliia Kovach

With their delivery of humanitarian aid to Ukraine accomplished, Andy and John head back home, retracing their tracks across Northern Europe. In a harrowing interview, John talks to a Ukrainian elearning specialist now based in Germany following the sad death of her husband on the frontline in Bahmut. And in Theorists Corner we feature John Comenius and Eric Kandel. Ukraine Fundraiser 2022 More information: Contact John Helmer X(Twitter): @johnhelmerLinkedIn:


Hack in Ukraine - Ep2 Being There, feat. Vladimir Polo

Arrived in Ukraine, Andy and John deliver their aid to the hospital in Lviv. With the main object of the trip accomplished, they take a walk around the city and assess the mood. John interviews Vladimir Polo, a learntech entrepreneur based in Odesa about what it has been like to run a learning company in a war zone. And, in Theorists Corner we feature Lev Vygotsky and Wilhelm Reich. 00:00 - Start01:11 - Intro01:43 - From the border to Lviv04:47 - Theorists Corner: Lev Vygotsky06:34 - Fulfilling the Prime Directive09:48 - Interview: Vladimir Polo15:00 - Managing a dispersed business from a war zone21:25 - The invasion and its impact on the company30:29 - Lviv vibes32:21 - Theorists Corner: Wilhelm Reich34:16 - Outro Ukraine Fundraiser 2022 More information: Contact John Helmer X(Twitter): @johnhelmerLinkedIn:


Hack in Ukraine - Ep 1: Getting There

Over three episodes we tell the story of what happened when John Helmer hitched a ride with Andy Wooler, chair of Ukraine Fundraiser 2022, to help deliver humanitarian aid to recently bombed Lviv. They chat about the conflict, about learning ... and about the history of the continent they are crossing from West to East. Ukraine Fundraiser 2022 Contact John Helmer


LH #85 The Sea, The Sea with Raal Harris

Oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface, and a huge workforce crews and manages the ships that sail on them. These people all have to be trained. While learntech companies now largely work across business sectors, there are those whose learning needs are so niche and specific that they call for a specialist. Maritime is such a sector. In this episode, John talks to Raal Harris, Chief Creative Officer at Ocean Technologies Group, a global learntech vendor servicing the Maritime Industry. Raal definitely IS a specialist, and knows the sector inside out. Follow Raal Contact John Helmer


LH #84 Shell in Transition with Jaap Hoogendoorn

Shell is an organisation in transition. It’s moving from a federated model of training to something more centralized. At the same time it’s bringing together L&D with organizational development, and knowledge management is moving closer to learning as well. And all this is happening against a background of a huge shift in skills needed within the organization as it moves into more sustainable forms of energy alongside its traditional businesses. In this episode, John talks to Jaap Hoogendoorn, VP Learning Solutions at Shell. Jaap leads a large, globally dispersed team of learning professionals in delivering these changes. He talks about the challenges, the progress made, and the effects of the Green Transition on Shell's learning function. Follow Jaap Contact John Helmer


LH #83 Jobs To Be Done with Ger Driesen

The 'Jobs To Be Done' approach (or framework) encourages a focus on what your end-user is trying to achieve when they access a product, service or experience. As professor Theodore Levitt puts it: 'People don't want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole'. John talks to Ger Driesen, Learning Innovation Leader at the learning system provider aNewSpring, about how it can be applied to learning. Could this make for a more learner-centred approach to learning design, or might it raise conflicts with the priorities of organizational development? And what is the role of AI under this framework? Links Follow Ger Contact John Helmer


LH #82 The Wizard of Oz with Markus Bernhardt

Adaptive learning systems were among the first to use artificial intelligence, creating a subcategory in learntech that has been on a slow burn since the 2010s. With the meteoric rise to prominence this year of AI in the headlines, thanks to ChatGPT and other publicly accessible generative AI tools, does the future now look bright for adaptive learning – or does it risk being swept away in the tsunami of over-hyped hopes and fears that this phenomenon has generated? John talks to Markus Bernhardt, Chief Evangelist of adaptive vendor Obrizum about this and other current topics concerning AI. Markus brings hope, some reassurance, but also further causes for concern about the use of AI in corporates that haven't so far registered in the public debate. Follow Markus: Contact John Helmer:


LH #81 The Great AI Takeover with Kevin Alster

This episode is part 2 of a podcast swap with the Video Learning Lab podcast run by Kevin Alster. Kevin is a Learning Strategist at Synthesia, the Denmark-based video learning company, and was previously employed as a designer of learning experiences at The New York Times and Sotheby’s. John talks to him about Synthesia's AI-generated avatars, which are rapidly gaining use in learning programmes. This wide-ranging discussion covers many of the most topical questions about use of AI in learning. And in a first for the Learning Hack podcast, the episode is introduced by AI generated avatars, replacing the usual cast of human presenters. Episode links: Follow Kevin: Contact John Helmer


LH #80 The Joy of Ceyx with Matt Wilkinson

Coming from a background of digital transformation, Matt Wilkinson has created a live elearning company that combines human-delivered and digital learning in a scalable way, stealing a bit of a march on more content-focused competitors. His company, CEyX, help teams build the technology skills and confidence necessary to positively impact their performance. Clients include Deliveroo, PA Consulting and the Department for Culture Media and Sport. John asks him what is unique about his model, and why he thinks more technology training vendors haven't, to date, adopted it. Follow Matt Contact John Helmer


LH #79 BONUS: Video Learning Lab turns the tables

This episode we're giving the channel over to one of our favourite podcasts, Video Learning Lab. The podcast is hosted by Kevin Alster, who runs an innovative video learning company called Synthesia, which uses lifelike AI-generated avatars as presenters. We're going to feature Kevin as a guest on the Learning Hack very soon, but in this podcast he interviews John. Kevin wanted to know what he'd picked up from running his two podcasts about how best to design learning. They also explore John's insights gleaned over the years from working in communications and also in the creative arts (he was in a top ten band, had a novel published and wrote and appeared in a series of comedy mini-musicals on Channel 4 in the UK). Due to a technical glitch the interview here is a bit truncated, but if you desperately need that last 5 minutes, you can listen to Kevin's channel on YouTube or Spotify – links below. Key Takeaways: Get the extended episode on Kevin's channels: Follow Kevin Contact John Helmer


LH #78 The L&D Handbook with Michelle Parry-Slater

Michelle Parry-Slater is Learning & Development Director of Kairos Modern Learning, and author of the Learning And Development Handbook. This guide for learning practitioners is realistic about the organizational context in which L&D has to operate, with its many new stresses and conflicting priorities. She encourages L&D people to think more strategically, and indicates mindsets, skillsets and toolsets for each of the major challenges L&D faces. The Learning & Development Handbook: Follow Michelle Contact John Helmer


LH #77 Podcasts for Learning with Adam Lacey

People use podcasts to gain information and knowledge, about a huge variety of things, in their downtime. Organisations and institutions have been slow to leverage this powerful source of potential to date, but things are changing fast. John talks to Adam Lacey, co-founder of Assemble You, an 'audio-first' provider of learning content. How different are learning podcasts from ordinary podcasts? And how easily – or otherwise – does audio learning sits alongside other forms of digital content within a learner journey? Links Follow Adam Contact John Helmer


LH #76 Bonus: Donald H. Taylor & David Wilson

At the Learning Technologies France show in Paris this February, John talked to two of the industry's leading commentators, who both released significant pieces of research at the show. The L&D Global Sentiment Survey, run by Donald H Taylor, takes the pulse of the L&D community world-wide. The one-minute online poll asks L&D professionals internationally what they think will be hot in the following year. The Fosway 9-Grid™ report for Learning Systems plots the relative position of solutions and providers, predominantly within the UK and European market. Different solutions can be compared based on their Performance, Potential, Market Presence, Total Cost of Ownership and Future Trajectories across the market. Between them, these two surveys give a picture of where Learntech systems are in the post-pandemic world, and what is firing the expectations and imaginations of the learning community. Follow Donald H. Taylor Follow David Wilson Contact John Helmer


LH #75 Under Thirties Assemble with Dinye Hernanda

A passion for learning brought Dinye Hernada, she says, from a muddy school field in Indonesia to the boardrooms of Germany's top companies. With a double masters in international management, she began her working life supporting digital transformation. Realizing, however, that investing in people often had a bigger and more sustainable impact, she switched to L&D. Dinye is now Senior Learning and Development Manager at HeyJobs. John talks to her about her career path to date, the challenges she has overcome, and what the future holds for her profession. Follow Dinye Contact John Helmer Download the white paper from Learning Pool written by Lindsey Coode – Skills are your Organization’s Superpower


LH #74 Ethical Learning with Alexander Fahie

Ethical Angel is a company that brings together learners in need of development opportunities with charities and good causes in need of the practical skills they are developing. John talks to the company's founder and CEO, Alexander Fahie, a young entrepreneur with a background in investment management. Alexander explains how he had the idea of bringing these two communities togther, how the collaboration works, and the results Ethical Angel is achieving for charitable causes though giving learners in organizations opportunities to try out the skills they are learning in real world situations. Follow Alexander Contact John Helmer Download the white paper from Learning Pool written by Lindsey Coode – Skills are your Organization’s Superpower


LH #73 The Leading Edge with Gustaf Nordbäck

Leadership learning is perhaps the most prestitigious and well-funded of training staples. In a changing world, it has become democratized in recent years, and now embraces a more progressive (some would say liberal) agenda. Nevertheless it faces criticism from academics in highly respected institutions, who question its value. In this wide-ranging discussion about the current state of leadership learning, John talks to Gustaf Nordbäck, CEO of Headspring Executive Development, a joint venture between the Financial Times and IE Business School. Under Gustaf’s direction Headspring has become a top provider of leadership solutions for clients around the world. How does he answer leadership's critics – and what is the future for leadership learning, in a world where decision-making becomes increasingly delegated to AI? NB: We apologise for the crackles on John's mic during the interview, and hope these technical shortcomings do not detract too badly from your enjoyment. 0:00 - Intro3:13 - Leading Headspring9:16 - Vision for leadership in the 21st Century17:27 - How diverse is Leadership Learning?24:35 - Differences in leadership styles28:19 - Answering critics35:47 - Digital Technology in course delivery40:23 - AI in Leadership Follow Gustaf: LinkedIn: HeadspringWebsite: Contact John Helmer: Twitter: @johnhelmerLinkedIn: Download the white paper from Learning Pool written by John Helmer – The Spacing Effect: Harnessing the Power of Spaced Practice for Learning That Sticks


LH #72 The University in the Future, with Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a prominent speaker and writer in the field of educational technology and learning, known for his work on open educational resources, digital learning, and the development of the MOOC (massive open online course). He's currently a researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Downes sees three current technologies as being critical for the development of online education; metaverse, blockchain and AI. But rather than making airy pronouncements in clickbait blog posts about this techno-troika, he has thought hard about how they operate together, creating a possible future for online education. But in this new distributed, learner-driven world, will we still need universities? YouTube talks by Stephen mentioned in the discussion. Follow Stephen Contact John Helmer Download the white paper from Learning Pool written by John Helmer – The Spacing Effect: Harnessing the Power of Spaced Practice for Learning That Sticks


LH #71 Climate: Will We Ever Learn? with Robert Nicholls

'We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator' (António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General speaking at COP 27). Successive COPs have revealed a lack of will among the world's governments to make commitments that they'll actually stick by. So increasingly, people who aren't in government feel it’s down to them to do something. Every institution and organization of any size, it seems, has an environmental policy, and it falls to HR, L&D and educators of all stripes to communicate these policies. Learning professionals are therefore heavily involved in the response to the climate emergency. In this episode, John discusses with a distinguished climate scientist exactly where we are with controlling climate change and how best learning professionals can contribute. Robert Nicholls is Professor and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at the University of East Anglia. He has contributed extensively to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). His particular focus is the implications of sea-level rise, especially on coastal areas. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers and is the co-editor of six books. Follow Professor Robert Nicholls Contact John Helmer