Live from Learning Technologies Summer Forum

The team in front of the unicorn stand at LT summer forum 2018

It’s that time of year again – we’re back at Learning Technologies Summer Forum today at Kensington Olympia!

With a presence from our LMS, Digital, and Apps/Games divisions, we’re excited to be showcasing the full complement of what we have to offer. As this year’s LT Summer marks a whole twelve months since we launched the Learning Ecosphere, it’s certainly interesting to see how the industry has evolved – and encouraging that the concept of a joined-up approach across previously diverse learning channels is more embedded than ever.

As many of our contemporaries have been swift to point out, LTSF is an increasingly busy and well-attended event. Perhaps the smaller space and the cap on the sheer scale of the stands we see at LT’s larger show in January makes this gathering more accessible – both for visitors and vendors alike. Happily, we’ve been rushed off our feet today, but between the madness here’s a rundown of our top takeaways:

1. Psychology has an increasingly central role to play in learning

Only a few weeks ago, our very own Chris Tedd wrote a blog about the importance of emotion in learning – and it’s a theme that’s cropped up strongly at this year’s LTSF.

A number of sessions today have highlighted the need to harness the intrinsic, emotional motivation for learning if we want our programmes to stick. It isn’t enough for a workforce to have an intellectual understanding of the reasons and rationale for change; instead it’s the alignment of this change to personal, individual goals that catalyses positive action and lasting behavioural shifts.

2. Machine learning and AI are occupying an ever-larger spot on the bill

The talk of personalised learning experiences didn’t stop at the theory: this year more than ever the conference and seminar programme is littered with sessions on artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the marketing world, we’re pretty au fait with automation when it comes to delivering personalised experiences – but it seems to be a relatively young concept within L&D. An interesting talk from Filtered looked at the content recommendation models of Spotify, Netflix, and even Tinder – and argued the case for mimicking the algorithms behind these kinds of consumer services to help deliver ever-more personalised content in the corporate learning space.

Given the sheer range of delegates we’ve spoken to today, there’s some doubt around the timescale for the adoption of this kind of technology, but it’s undoubtedly an exciting possibility.

3.You say Learning Ecosystem, we say Learning Ecosphere

Last year, we launched the Learning Ecosphere – a concept that positions both enterprise-focused and learner-focused channels as part of a united, wider whole. With more and more offerings in the learning space (from LMS’, to apps and games and even AR/VR) it’s important to be able to discern which solutions – and importantly which combination of solutions – is right for your business, and it’s easy to get bamboozled. Since we are unique in the ability to support customers in every aspect of their learning journeys, we felt it was important to help people navigate the somewhat over-saturated landscape of technology as they pick their way through desktop-based, app-based and even classroom-based solutions.

This year, the phrase ‘Learning Ecosystem’ has cropped up a few times throughout LTSF – essentially articulating the same point, that technological solutions shouldn’t be viewed in silo, but rather as complimentary to one another. If you haven’t already, you can download our whitepaper here.

4. As an industry, we’re still talking about the same things

In terms of themes, we’re seeing the usual suspects. ‘Disruption’ remains a pet-hate term of mine. We wrote a blog back in February after LT ‘proper’ about the fact that whilst there’s much evangelising about the role of disruption within the industry, evidence for radical movement remains scarce. I’ve seen a few ‘evolve or die’-type headlines across the event today, and clearly there’s an appetite for change, but quite how seriously the industry really takes this I’m still not sure. We raised a question last time around about the source of this disruption – is someone going to be brave enough to raise their head above the parapet and do something radically different from inside the industry? Or is the source of ‘disruption’ more likely to come from without (think high street versus Amazon)?

Equally, it’s possible that rapid change could be customer-led. We’ve debated the point previously about standard-setting within the industry as a possible limiting factor for change. Is the benchmark set by the next-best competitor? And if we’re honest, as we venture into the realm of wider tech, should we be looking more to the consumer giants like Apple and Amazon for inspiration, rather than one another?

Undoubtedly, there are some fantastic things happening in the industry, but whether true ‘disruption’ is one of them perhaps remains to be seen!

Are you at #LTSF18 today? There’s still time to drop by and see us at stand 24. If not, we hope to see you next time! Follow us @unicorntraining.

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