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Lessons from E-learning Fusion 2022, Warsaw

By Shandel McAuliffe | |6 minute read

It is wonderful to see more and more learning events opening back up. I was excited to attend my first overseas learning event in a few years in late November 2022: E-learning Fusion. I was even more honoured to open the event with a presentation: Creating a Culture of Learning.

As I wrote my presentation, I was very conscious of not really knowing anything about Polish culture. Yet there I was about to present to Polish people in their country about culture. Would my ignorance matter? Would my views of learning culture be universal? Do you have to understand a place to help a place?

As my children had an occasional day off school, we all travelled to Poland and spent the weekend soaking up the sights, the food and the culture. It was good prep for my Monday morning keynote. Understanding more about place does impact on how you approach, acknowledge and respect people you are working with. I get to know my client’s cultures before I make learning suggestions.


Having had a reflective weekend wandering the streets of Warsaw, I arrived at the conference with a great energy to be part of building up the value of learning and development. The energy among the audience was initially a little subdued. There was that strangeness of being there in person and the awkwardness of not quite remembering how to network. Even in a foreign language, I could feel it.

My first slide was to ask the audience, where does culture show up? Small-starting but building noise levels indicated people were grateful of a chance to have something to talk about, an excuse to connect. And that is how the rest of the conference played out over the day. The noise increased, the conversations became more animated, the energy rose. The event was incredibly successful for making personal connections.

The tracks at the event centred around using learning technologies more effectively, and strategy and content. There was a strong thread about making learning easeful for learners. Barriers mean learning does not happen.

One comment which has absolutely stuck with me and kept me thinking was from Iwona Wencel who said learning is not for everyone as it takes effort, time and a balance of comfort and discomfort.

She is right!

For some people, right now, the world is just too much for learning to take place. People are so far out of their comfortable spaces they are beyond where learning can happen. The effort required to learn is significant. Don’t underestimate the pressure people are under just living. Forcing people through learning will never be fruitful.

Fundamentally, human beings are social creatures. As we emerge from a hiatus of real social connection, we need to be brave, to relearn how to connect and to simply enjoy the company of others … and learning will follow.

It feels appropriate to me that I learnt the power of connection in a country which once didn’t always have the luxury of such association to the wider world. I can confirm now, however, social learning is alive and well in Poland.

How are you doing with your networking and social learning?

Tweet threads live from the event:

Keynote Speaker: Michelle Parry-Slater

Morning Speakers: Marta Machalska, Jowita Michalska, Iwona Wencel, Stella Collins, Leonard Houx, Ger Driesden, Manolis Mavrikis, Agnieszka Bierawska, and Sabina Kwiatkowska

Afternoon Speaker: Raul Pop from OneSpan

Event program

Michelle Parry-Slater is founder of Kairos Modern Learning and author of The Learning and Development Handbook.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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