Learning Uncut episode 42 was released 24 December 2019. It’s titled ‘How we know the learning profession is thriving.’  The Learning Uncut team get together to review the stories we published in 2019, our key insights and takeaways, emerging trends, and what we’ve learned about creating a podcast.  We also shared some big news about Learning Uncut 2020.

I listened to this episode today.  I listen to all of them shortly after they are published, curious about how the final version turned out.  I listen differently after the final version is public than I do when I am hosting an episode.  I listen to hear the story rather than to help someone tell the story.  While each story is already familiar there are always aspects and nuances that I missed.  While this was our end of year wrap, it was the ‘big news’ that really impacted what I heard and how I reacted.

What struck me as I listened to episode 42 was what a great team the three of us made – Karen, Amanda and me.  Yes, I’ve used past tense.  As we explain toward the end of the episode, this was our last joint episode.  Karen has decided to “take a little bit of a career diversion” and shift her business focus, taking “the very tough decision to pass the Learning Uncut mic” to me as solo host.  Amanda has an expanded role at work and would like to put more time into revisiting the e-learning and instructional design meetup group in Sydney as a different way of sharing L&D stories.  

We decided to start the podcast in January 2018.  We published episode 1 six months later, in June 2018, then released a new episode every two weeks.  We’ve worked together for two years on this project, putting in around 15 hours per episode collectively.  Include our initial effort setting up the podcast and we’ve put in well over 230 hours each – probably closer to 250 hours.  As Karen and I explained in the introductory video below, recorded prior to podcast launch, we were all motivated to showcase the great work being done by learning professionals in Australia and New Zealand.  Our shared purpose excited and united us.  It’s clear that we achieved it.  Together we created 42 episodes featuring 46 guests.  Over 22 hours of content has been downloaded a total of 18,500 times by people in 79 countries.

 I listened to episode 42 with a sense of poignancy, knowing that this was the last one we would produce together.  There were a few emotional moments that we edited out of this episode. Although I’m excited to continue with Learning Uncut in 2020, this is tinged with sadness.  I will really miss our teamwork and camaraderie.  We put a lot of thought and care into each episode – encouraging people to be guests, helping them prepare to share their story, figuring out what the most valuable and interesting angle would be, editing and producing to help them shine, and deciding how to title and promote each episode.  We looked for ways to improve the podcast, to market it more effectively so more people could benefit from listening to the stories.

 Apart from the joy of creating something meaningful together I will miss our different perspectives.  Listen to our individual insights on the 2019 episodes.  Just as the learning profession is very diverse today so are the themes we each nominate and the topics we are each drawn to across the episodes.  We didn’t compare notes prior to recording.  We are just attuned to different aspects of the work done by learning professionals.  Additionally, Karen is great at getting to the core of a story, finding the special ingredients, and crafting questions to highlight what was done especially well by our guests.  Her written posts about episodes are also interesting.  I have used her as a role model to improve in these areas.  Every story was fresh to Amanda’s ears as she edited.  I always enjoyed the messages she sent us when she was excited by something she heard while editing. No matter how fiddly the editing was she always made us sound better than the original recording.

 This leaves me wondering what may be lost in the transition from a joint project to a solo one, albeit with editing and administrative support.  My challenge is to ensure breadth and diversity in both the range of stories and facets discussed.  At the time of posting this dispatch I’ve recorded five episodes solo and am finding me feet with a streamlined process and professional editor.  Perhaps an advisory group of some sort would be useful,* and/or an occasional guest co-host.

* A note on the value of reflection and working out loud.  The idea of an advisory group only arose as I wrote this post and reflected on the potential downside of going solo.  Now that I’ve shared it publicly others may have suggestions for how this could work.  

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