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Lifelong learning

Alexis Thompson

Proving it’s never too late to learn new things, Alexis Thompson developed a few new skills during Adult Learners’ Week this week

Adult Learners’ Week – a national recognition of lifelong learning –has been taking place this week (June 14 - 20th), and there’s been a range of activities going on throughout the country to celebrate. 

To get into the spirit of things, I decided to take part in a few workshops organised by ILM in order to develop my skills and expand my knowledge in different areas – these included a workshop on social media and one on photography.

The one-hour social media class was delivered by our digital communications manager, Melanie Read and our digital communications executive, Martine van den Bergh, who gave us an insight into Twitter and LinkedIn. During the session I learnt the basics about Twitter – including how to edit my Tweets down to 140 characters (something I always find very difficult to do!), how to use Twitter for business and how to successfully launch a campaign using the social network site. I do use Twitter on a day-to-day basis in my job, but it was great to get a refresher on the basics and Melanie and Martine provided us with some handy takeaway tips.

LinkedIn is one networking site I use on a less frequent basis but during the workshop I discovered its potential, especially if using it for professional and networking purposes. Melanie told us that there are 30 million people now using LinkedIn, which was a surprising statistic – it’s grown tremendously in the last several years. We were told to aim to have 100% of our profile complete and to list our experience, skills and most importantly, to include a picture – something which is particularly important for networking. After the workshop I ended up making a few changes to my own profile and updated my skills and experience to make sure my profile was fully complete. 

Later in the week I brushed up on my photography skills by joining Michael Osbaldeston and a group of others, as he led us on a walking tour around the City of London armed with our cameras and smart phones. Michael told us to closely observe the sights around us and stopped at various points of interests – including a Norman church and graveyard, a park with a banana tree and timber framed buildings, some dating back to the 16th Century. Giving us a brief and interesting history along the way, he then encouraged us to get out our cameras and take some creative shots – for example, in the park he told us to point our camera up at the trees where the sunlight was filtering through the leaves, for the old buildings he told us to zoom in on a particular feature or take close ups of the stone. The tour helped me to look at London and the streets around where I work in a different way – I hadn’t even noticed the exquisite architecture or the historical significance of many of the buildings nearby, but by stopping to observe and take photos – it really helped open up my eyes to what was around me. 

There were plenty of other workshops taking place across ILM during the week, including a workshop on historical re-enactments, a pottery class and a singing lesson. All in all it’s been a fun and enriching week and it’s been good to acknowledge the fact that learning shouldn’t stop once you’ve finished school or college – learning is something which should continue throughout our lives. 

Here’s what other participants have learnt during the week: 

“It was amazing.  We were shown various forms of swords, rifles, muskets and hand guns, some were the real thing and some were copies.  The guns were mainly used for gunpowder firing and very heavy in weight”. 

“Overall it was really good fun and got members of other teams mixing together. Nothing beats a bit of team bonding”. 

“We all really enjoyed the experience and it was something I think should be done again - not just as part of Adult Learner Week but as one off sessions so more people can give it ago”. 


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