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Organizing the first ever open Learnathon

It is so easy to fall in love with a new idea. “What a great idea!” you think. You start talking about the idea and it starts to fly. Together you build the idea further, improve it, make it perfect. You think! Usually it still takes several roller coaster rides to actually make it perfect. It takes highs and lows. This is the roller coaster ride we took when we organized the first ever Open Learnathon.

A Learnathon is a community driven event where people with a common interest gather together to share their knowledge and learn from each other.  Participants themselves define what they want to learn and what they want share. The goal is to get two types of people to meet, the ones with a specific need and the ones with the matching knowledge. Now we decided to arrange an Open Learnathon, meaning that we would invite external partners to join the learning marathon, to share their knowledge, to learn from each other, and to meet new people.


Organizing the Learnathon

After the original idea, we got other Ericsson sites joining the organizing committee. Some of our external partners got interested too. We got the first two ideas listed to our voting site by a person volunteering to share his knowledge. Great!

But then nothing! Silence on the voting site. “It is the Christmas holidays.” we said. So we went on holiday too. After the New Year we came back and so did the others, but nothing! Still no activity on the voting site.

We realized that we needed to do more. We talked to people and showed them a road towards the Open Learnathon, a road flanked with inspiring sessions giving us all a possibility to learn more, even before the Learnathon.

It worked. More people volunteered to share their knowledge and people voting on the proposed topics. Yes! But people are not registering themselves. They are voting, but not joining the actual Learnathon.

“Well, they just want to see the final agenda first!” we said. Then they’ll register, and they did!

But the ride was not over yet! Usually we say “slowly but surely”. This time it was sure we would get there, but the ride was everything but slow, the emotional roller coaster continued and soon we started to wonder, where did all the time go? A million things to do and so little time.

The day of the Learnathon

Almost 650 people, including 50 external guests turned out for the event. They joined the event from 26 Ericsson sites all over the world.

People were ready to learn and ready to share their knowledge. Europe and Asia started together. Americas joined a bit later and took over the relay and the baton when the strength of European runners was starting to weaken. This way some of the European runners gained more energy and could still continue following the ride. 15 hours later Americas passed the finish line. We made it, we ran through the whole Open Learnathon.

Of course there were some hiccups during the day. But we were ready for them and took care of them.

It was an emotional roller coaster and an amazing learning experience in so many ways. Well, we are not only adhering but also living a learning lifestyle. That is why we are called Ericsson Learning Lifestyle Community. And now we are ready for all of the future Learnathon roller coasters.

With this story we would like to thank all the presenters and trainers for sharing their knowledge. We would also like to thank all the participants for taking the opportunity to learn and network and all the fellow organizers for making the Open Learnathon possible!

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