Friday, November 13, 2009

E-learning Age Awards

Award ceremonies can be the worst and best of times. I’ve been to lots and the one’s I’ve enjoyed the most have been those that descended into chaos! Easily the best was way back in the early 90s where Willie Rushton told a horrifically sexist joke (based on the name of the host organisation -BIVA) and was booed by most of the women in the room. Bread rolls were thrown and the whole thing descended into farce. My second favourite was last year’s WOLCE awards, where Marcus Brigstocke had a hilarious time congratulating non-deserving companies like RBS on their ‘Understanding Business’ e-learning programme. It started late so the audience was as at peak point of drunkenness, where all are at one with the world and everything seems funny. The hotel, somewhere in Birmingham, was seedy, tacky and slightly odorous, as only cheap British hotels can be. The poached pears were as hard as marble. So, I was hoping for some welcome anarchy last night, as I trooped off by train, with Clive Shepherd, to the Sheraton in London, for the E-learning Age Awards. As the WOLCE awards have collapsed, this is now the premier UK awards night, and deservedly so. The number of entries was up and the mood seemed buoyant.

Caspian’s double triumph

I have to declare an interest here (as I’m on their Board) but well done to Caspian. a Gold Award for best games/simulation in learning (for Royal Navy), as well as a Silver for Most Innovative New Product, 'ThinkingWorlds'. It takes some doing to get two awards on the one night for both your content and the tool you created to make that content. We had three of team who helped create the programme and tool at the table (down from Newcastle) and they deserved this. I also had time to talk to the wonderful ‘Queen of Tools’ Jane Hart, who was sitting next to me at the table. We’re speaking together at Online Educa, which should be fun. Check out her incredibly useful tools site.

Piers Lea

I’ve known Piers for 20 odd years and he’s as nice a man as you’d ever hope to meet, and thoroughly deserved his Outstanding Achievement Award. Piers is the CEO of LINE which has seen a surge in sales over the last four years. He has some really talented people in his team with Keith, Sean, Bruce, Fi, Andrew et al. These guys really know their stuff. Again I’ll declare an interest, as I’ve been working with Piers over the last few years helping to open up the defence sector and bringing in some fresh blood, such as Ken Robertson (best proposal writer in the business) and John Helmer (best e-learning marketing person in the business. Just a word of praise for David Wilson, who was shortlisted. He’s sure to win this some time soon, as he’s been a key figure in the industry in terms of objective analysis.


You can’t keep us Brighton boys down! So a big congratulations to Charles, Lars, Virginia and the rest of the excellent Brightwave team, for winning Production Company of the Year. Their table was curiously packed with kilted Scotsmen (from Sky TV), as they have an office in Scotland. Good people doing good work. And check out Lars blog – it’s quality stuff.


Good to see my old company Epic get back on track, after its disastrous dalliance with the hapless Huveaux. Great to see Roy Evans, of the British Army, and the Epic team, Nick and Vicky, get the Gold for best mobile application. I’ve blogged about these excellent projects before, on the Nintendo and iPods, as they’re way beyond the often fuzzy mobile learning projects you find in education. These teach numeracy, Arabic and Pashtun, to young soldiers on the frontline. It’s not often you can say that e-learning may be saving lives – ask Roy, he knows. Let’s hope there’s more from Roy and the Epic team. Strange footnote to this one. I was collared by Jonathon and Naomi, of Epic, for being rude in my blog about some quango person in their Oxford debate. They were a little confused as I haven’t written anything about the debate in my blog (I think). I did, in fact, make one short comment on Clive’s blog about her banal views. Lighten up guys – it’s only a blog!


More Brighton success with Kineo coming in for an award for something. Nice to see Mark Harrison swan up to the stage dressed even shabbier than me! Well done to Steve, Stephen, Mark and Matt. These guys are working their proverbial bollocks off to build their business and continue their meteoric rise with over 50 staff and new offices in the US. Go Kineo!


A word also for Gavin Cooney of Learnosity who won a Gold for Most Innovative Tool. Gavin, who’s a prodigious social networker, online and offline, will no doubt put this new sobriquet to good use. He’s another lovely guy with, he tells me, only one suit. Clive and myself look forward to working with him in Ireland in the new year.


All in all, a good evening. The right folks seemed to win the right awards. No, sorry, hold that ending……I forgot to mention The Royal Bank of Scotland, who won the Gold Award for (wait for it) ‘Meeting the Needs of Compliance for an External regulator or an Internal Workforce’. Have the judges been locked up in solitary confinement for the last year? This is the company who we’re all bailing out, as they failed to comply with anything, even normal standards of decency. Maybe a Platinum Award for the ‘Most Non-compliant, Arrogant, Wasteful, Incompetent and Greedy Behaviour of any Bank in the History of Banking Award’ would have been more appropriate. Sorry, let’s get back to business. A good comedian would have ripped into this one, and maybe that’s what the event needs next year to take it to the next level – some comic chaos!


Anonymous said...

A really good night Donald and the standard has continued to improve, well done to all the winners

Lars Hyland said...

Hi Donald, I agree with the buoyant mood of the evening. I think we can finally start to see e-learning (in all its forms) moving even further into the mainstream in driving learning and performance in both the workplace and education.

It's been a great two weeks for Brightwave - last week we won Most Effective Training Programme for our hugely successful partnership with Sky at the Global Customer Contact Association Awards. There we had Sandy Toksvig as MC who was very funny - possible good choice for next years E-learning Age awards I think.

Bob Harrison said...

I wish I could have been there but dara OBrien was on at the BSF awards so I went are the winners and CIVICA/Sheffield won best ICT partner much to RM chagrin :)

Donald Clark said...

Now that's one funny man, only eclipsed by the weird musings of Daniel Kitson and Frankie Boyle.

Andy Tedd said...

Well done Piers Lea :)

He could sell sand in the Sahara.

Donald Clark said...

He was in Cairo this Summer....

shackletonjones said...

I think I can top your Willie Rushton story: several years ago Smartforce ran a swanky customer event at a London hotel. When we were eventually allowed into the lavishly decorated ballroom to take out seats for dinner we were intrigued by the surreal stiltwalkers who wafted around looking like giant prawn crackers. All very posh. The highlight of the evening was an act called 'Luci Fire', I'm guessing the marketing team had booked her without due diligence (you know who you are, Kay) and she burst onstage to a thrash metal track dressed only in a steel bikini and armed with an angle grinder. For the next twenty minutes she proceeded to apply the angle grinder to various parts of her outfit, sending sparks flying into the audience and towards the worried-looking prawn crackers. Best of all were the horrified expressions accumulating on the face of their PR-conscious american CEO. One of the few unforgettable do's I've been to.

Donald Clark said...

Now that's my kind of awards event! Ask David Anderson (still at BBC, I think) about his night in Brighton when the client bought a crate of champagne and everyone retired back to his room where they drank it from her shoes (he woke up in his Tux with the lamps smashed, bottles smashed etc). The good old days!

Donald Clark said...

Just reminded me of something else - saddest example were the Masie events in Orlando, where every year we had Disney characters come into the hall to shake our hands - it was, and probably still is, infantile. Only matched by Elliot swooshing around on a stupid Segway.

Mary McKenna said...

Well done everyone and I hope a good night was had by all - wonder how much the RBS paid for that award?...

David Wilson said...

Agree with the sentiments completely ... much more upbeat. E-learning Age now seems more known for the awards than the mag, and despite my scepticism of awards in general, these ones particular seem to generate real interest. My only criticism was how close the tables were together!

ps. Thanks for the kind words ...

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a great night and well done to all the winners!

Can I ask Donald why you make such negative remarks to the bankers? We can all appreciate huge mistakes have been made but the comments seem rather harsh.

Do you not agree in such uncetain times, regardless of the mistakes at the top that the people involved should not be allowed to enjoy some success for their labours?

You have clearly done some great work for this industry Donald, but I feel a recent banking charge has left a sour taste and questions your credibility and integrity. Shame really, I used to read your blog with intent but i'm struggling to understand such venim.

Donald Clark said...

Come on anonymous. I have yet to meet a single individual that has anything but contempt for the obvious lack of compliance to social and fiscal responsibilities by banks and bankers. If questioning their behaviour and false claims is lacking 'credibility and integrity' in your eyes, then so be it.

'Meeting the needs of compliance' is exactly what RBS failed to do. They have massive and crippling bad debts BECAUSE they FAILED to meet the needs of compliance. So why reward them with an award. It devalued an otherwise excellent awards night.

The mistakes were not just by a few people at the top. The organisation was infused by the 'Make It happen' ethos, a culture of fear and bullying.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donald,

Most people I agree are not in favour with the banks and their on going behaviour. Apart from depositing my hard earned money into their accounts, I have very little to do with them.

Would you not agree, it is very difficult to 'comply' with some human behaviours such as greed. Non compliance to summarise this global mess is a little simplistic in my view. We could get into a whole debate about an award for the MoD which is a complete and utter mess and has been bank rolled by the tax payer for years or the government agencies which fail us daily. Its a whole new debate.

My point Donald is more about the choice of words you used. Times are tough for everyone and after such a great night, why not use your powers to pump some positivity into the commercial arena.

Donald Clark said...

Puzzled by this reply. This is a blog, not an exercise in positive thinking. Why should I state something I don't believe.

We have massive youth unemployment, misery for many and will be paying for their mistakes for at least a decade. I can see no reason for commending them on their 'good work'.

Why remain anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Hi Donald,

I feel quite hypocritical really as in previous notes to your blog I said it was a good night when actually I think the whole award business is quite pointless that is except for a few people have a great chance to have their egoes massaged for the evening. You only have to go on to the major players websites to discover there seems to be an award for just about everything these days and they sort of loose their meaning.

Back to hyprocrisy, the fuel of my initial comment, is that I know full well you have enjoyed the spoils of RBS only a number of years ago at Epic. To say all of the comments you did is a little like biting the hand that feeds you. Its easy to lay the blame at someones door when things go wrong but we have all enjoyed the good times. Irresponsible borrowing/spending is as bad as irresponsible lending. I refer back to it being to simplistic to make a blame at only one set of people.

Anyway, you take my point. Promise to rant no more on your blog and will continue to read.