I’m Laura Layton-James, LauraLJ or LJ as I’m also fondly referred to by friends and colleagues. I have over 25 years’ experience in L&D and since 2006 in digital learning. I have always been fascinated at how technology can help us do things more quickly.
Way back in 1995, I embraced this new worldwide connectivity. There were things I learned that I couldn’t possibly have learned as easily or quickly. There were people I connected with and learned from, whom I never met. What potential we were on the brink of – even though it was on dial-up and excruciatingly slow.
My ethos and vision
I am passionate about keeping people at the heart of learning and that is especially important when you take your training virtual. My mission is to help people experience great online learning to achieve their goals and to change their perceptions that it’s not as good as classroom.
Virtual learning is effective when we use good learning design practices, make smart choices for modalities and tools, and actively encourage human connections throughout.
My ‘classroom to virtual’ journey:
I’ve been there; I started out as a classroom trainer. I know what it’s like to go from being with my learners in the same room to transitioning to live virtual classrooms and keeping them motivated throughout longer self-paced virtual programmes. I rose to the challenge of making sure my learners were as engaged, involved and successful in achieving their goals as they had been in my classrooms.
It’s very weird at first, especially when all you have is a screen in front of you. I had great foundations though. I already had my skills in effective training design and delivery all of which were still applicable. I just had to learn to drive a different vehicle, navigate a different country, so to speak. It took patience, practice and mentoring from experts in virtual learning.
I never looked back.
My career timeline
The early years in the NHS
I began by training life in the NHS. I ran the medical library part time alongside administration of the postgraduate education for junior doctors.
Then this new-fangled internet box thing found its way into the medical library; it was down to me to teach the medical staff how to use the online medical databases and to critically appraise the material they found. I didn’t have any formal training at the time apart from what I would now describe as a very loose ‘train the trainer’ workshop.
As part of my Library and Information Science qualification I discovered the psychology of communication, interpersonal relationships customer services. I was more interested in this than that of managing the library books – perhaps a clue what my future career may have involved?
After being bitten by the training bug, I went on to another NHS as a full-time IT trainer and had my first proper development in how to train others.
I became accredited through the IITT (now the LPI) with a TAP (Training Accreditation Programme) qualification by The Training Foundation (now TAP Learning and part of QA).
Digital learning consultant: TAP Learning
In August 2006, I was fortunate to join the lovely ‘TAP family’ at the The Training Foundation. Here I began designing and delivering professional L&D training qualification for their Training Accreditation Programme (TAP Qualifications).
I soon found my niche in the digital learning team where I transitioned from helping people develop their classroom training skills to developing their virtual training skills.
Over the years I worked with many and diverse organisations helping them add to their Learning and Development teams skills; from standard courses, bespoke courses to consultancy.
Virtual and blended learning specialist: LJ Learning
Drawing on my many years’ experience designing and delivering virtual learning programmes, I individuals and teams to adapt their classroom skills to master their virtual training skills and how to apply a blended programme design approach. Hop over to my services page to find out more about what I do.
- Learning architecture (including when and what to blend)
- Live virtual learning design and facilitation (synchronous)
- Self-paced virtual learning design and facilitation (asynchronous)
- Blended learning
- Coaching and mentoring
- In-person training
Organsations I’ve worked with over the years
Below is a list of just some of the many industries and organisations I’ve worked with or delivered training to during my career:
- Automotive: VW, Jaguar Landrover, Autoglass, BMW, Rolls-Royce
- Construction: Jewson, Travis Perkins, Interserve
- Defence: MoD, Bae, Babcock, AWE, NATS
- Energy: E.ON, GE, MAERSK (Total), Centrica, Severn Trent
- Financial: Admiral, Barclays, Legal & General, HSBC, NatWest, Experian, AXA, Zurich
- Government: British Transport Police, PSNI, CNC, Probation Service, various local councils, Ministry of Justice
- Health: NHS, Covidien (Medtronics), ZOLL, GSK, Baxter, Almac Group
- Legal: LexisNexis, Burgess Salmon, Latham & Watkins LLP, BLP Law
- Retail: Primark, Co-op, Homebase, Dyson, Specsavers
- Technology: Adobe, Aveva, Ricoh, Sage, Riverbed
- Training & Education: GP Strategies, Southampton University, Open University, Leeds University, Oxford University, Virgin Media
- Travel & Transport: Virgin Atlantic, Transport for London, RAC, Network Rail
- Miscellaneous: The Royal Family (staff), Financial Times, Rentokil