BLOG: Top 5 Things We Learned from Learning Technologies 2016
That's the behemoth that is Learning Technologies over for the next year, and as always it provided an eye opener or two on many different fronts.
So what did we learn from the 2016 exhibition and conference? Here's our top 5....
The eLearning industry is thriving - LTs felt properly busy this year, not just in terms of visitors but exhibition stands too. As technologies continue to be intrinsically intertwined with education - regardless of sector - it's little wonder the big hitters and newcomers alike are seeing the potential in the marketplace. The enduring question for each business remains however, of how do you differentiate yourself and give people something that really stands out? Asides from the biggest players, walking around the exhibition there were few stands really, really clear in what they offered different. There are still some smoke and mirrors out there, things might be looking very shiny, but underneath there are still some weaknesses in usability.
Silo thinking still exists within the L&D, HR, Talent, Learning Tech space – businesses are still not even talking to other areas of the business, never mind ensuring the UX is seamless when it comes to the technology. "We only look after the HR side”, “Someone else manages the LMS”, “That’s the talent team's role”, “Compliance take care of their own content on a different platform”.....etc. The reality is the best integrated solutions can do it all, but this must be recognised from the top.
The talent pool in the market is struggling to keep up with the growth - while it is always lovely to catch up with old buddies in the industry at LTs, where were the new faces? We did meet a few newbies making a big impression in the work they are doing, but more still needs to be done to attract talent, and to improve the skills and knowledge in our sector.
Learning and development is struggling to keep pace with technological change - with technology evolving quicker than even most developers can keep up with what chance, really, have the L&D community got? Embracing new technologies in businesses can often involve major culture change, challenging senior leadership and the long-maintained status quo, a 'we tell you what we think you need to know' approach and IT implementation hurdles (perceived or otherwise) so that often computer does say "No". How the latest technology can best be applied, and scalable / future-proofed, to actually enhance the performance of both staff and ultimately the business is not an overnight thing. It's our responsibility as an industry to help people better understand where to start, and provide evidence and solutions as to why a certain system or innovation is the right one for them.
Games are still providing the biggest buzz - applying game design and gamification principles to learning is going to revolutionise learner engagement. You couldn't miss the games vibe as you walked around, whether that was companies offering to gamify your learning or those able to create learning games or both. It was great to meet so many people interested in our own 'The Future of Game-based Learning' white paper on our stand too. Not read it yet? Here ya go.....
And just a quick sidenote too....
For all the technological advances and talk of engagement and learner-centred design, the vast majority of conference sessions and exhibition seminars were didactic Powerpoint presentations. What happened to practicing what we preach?
Keep an eye out for our exclusive interviews with some of the key players and thought leaders from Learning Technologies.