Thinqi at Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2019: Our Key Takeaways

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Natalie Ann Holborow
Digital Content Specialist
Thinqi at Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2019: Our Key Takeaways

Last week, we packed up and took Thinqi on the road to ExCel London for the annual Learning Technologies Summer Forum, an extension on the main Learning Technologies event in February. With an exhibition packed with free seminars, a conference featuring some of the best thought leaders in the industry, and 40 of the leading suppliers, the one-day event promised to be a chance to network and learn. Conference Chair Donald H Taylor set the premise for the event in his well-received opening address – “keep the day informal, attend the sessions, but most importantly, network and learn from each other”.

If you missed the chance to attend or just want to know what our main takeaways were, we’ve compiled a summary of some of the key trends that were prevalent. 

Screenshot of Krystyna Gadd How Not to Waste Your Money On Training book

1.“Data is the new black. But is it enough?”

This was the question asked by award-winning industry analyst Laura Overton in her session on data analysis. Controversial though the question may have at first seemed, she pointed out that the industry’s current preoccupation with data and analytics has left us overwhelmed with numbers and figures. How can we make sense of the data and use it to make better learning decisions?

“Do we all need to be data analysts?” she continued. “No, we need to think differently. It’s about data literacy – our ability to read, work and analyse data.” According to Laura, the more we process the data, the more we get out of it. It’s all about selecting the right data – the focus should be on evidence, not just numbers. 

The missing ingredient? Ourselves.

Krystyna Gadd, author of the recently-published and highly-rated ‘How Not to Waste Your Money On Training’, continued the conversation in her session on finding the story hidden in your data. 

“The top skill for successful learning analytics is curiosity,” she said, echoing Laura’s message on staying curious and looking at multiple sources. She noted that while gut instinct does still play a role, “data needs to be organised to be useful. Otherwise it’s just records.” Ask the right questi ons. When visualising, “we must ask ourselves not only what we are seeing, but also what we’re not seeing”. An interactive workshop demonstrated how different visual representations of data can give us different insights – it’s up to us to keep exploring further and keep asking questions until we get the evidence we really need.

For more on learning data analysis, check out our blog ‘Insight From Analytics: Telling a Story With Data.’

Dave Perring of Fosway delivering talk on LMS LXP at Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2019 in front of screen

2.  “This is Not Just a War of Features. Context is Key.”

So says David Perring,  Director of Research at Fosway. In his session which aimed to cut through the confusion of all the technological acronyms – LXP, NGLE, LMS – he revealed that more than half of people surveyed think their learning technology is not fit for the modern workforce. So how do we know which learning technology is right when there’s so many options available?

To break things down, David recommended that we don’t start with functionality when it comes to choosing between learning technologies. Instead, we should think about “what the experience should be. We need to think about how it will solve the problem and create our own story through the eyes of the learner themselves.”

In other words, we need to avoid simply choosing a big solution with a long list of features that look good on paper. Lots of new features will not necessarily equal a great experience. 

“Present the problem,” says David. “Context is key.”

For more on the differences between the LMS and LXP (and help with deciding which one is right for you), take a look at our previous blog, ‘The LMS vs LXP: Which One Should You Choose?

Steve Finch of Thinqi giving talk on monitoring soft skills in digital environment onstage at Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2019

3. “It’s Time We Learned How to Interpret Digital Body Language in Order to Monitor Soft Skills Development.”

Soft skills are essential, so how can you monitor and measure them in a digital environment? This was the question asked by Thinqi Ambassador Steve Finch in his talk ‘Capturing the Intangibles: Can Technology Measure Soft Skills?’

“Soft skills are often the true indicators of your champions: the future leaders and achievers that will help your organisation grow,” says Steve. It comes as no surprise then, that LinkedIn Learning’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report revealed that some of the country’s fastest-growing roles – sales development, customer success and customer experience – are heavily dependent on soft skills. However, as we become more dependent on software to support our L&D activities, the challenge now is how we can measure soft skills remotely in a modern digital environment.

This is where modern learning technologies come in. Many learning technologies today, including our own Thinqi platform, allow us to detect and report these behaviours in a meaningful way. We can define the desired behaviours in terms of ‘digital body language’ (an excellent overview of which can be found on Jo Cook’s ‘Lightbulb Moment’ blog). This will enable us to then monitor, nurture and reward the people who demonstrate these behaviours.

For more on capturing soft skills in a digital environment, our previous blog has a handy overview to help you out.

Steve Wheeler giving presentation to busy room at Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2019

4. “The Human Intellectual Capital is the Most Valuable Asset to An Organisation. And We Need to Be Constantly Feeding It.”

This was the takeaway message of Learning Innovations Consultant Steve Wheeler’s session on people, personalisation and personal learning. Using optical illusions to demonstrate how we all perceive the same thing very differently, he reiterated how people need learning that’s personalised to their individual needs and preferences. 

In the session, Steve reflected about how his word processor changed “people are important” to “people are impotent”. However, rather than correct it, he decided to keep it on the slide for its important message when it comes to learning – that “people can be impotent if they feel forced into situations at work, especially in learning and development contexts, where they feel powerless to change anything or cannot exert their autonomy”. And this is exactly why a ‘prescriptive’ approach no longer works for modern L&D – it’s all about empowering and supporting the learner to create their own personalised learning journeys.

Quoting his book ‘Digital Learning in Organisations’, he said: “promoting learning that can be applied immediately and authentically to the workplace will benefit everyone within the organisation.” As he summed up perfectly, people are unique and important, and should be treated as such.

In Summary…

Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2019 was a clear winner for us. We loved the informal, social element of the event. We enjoyed the interactivity of the sessions and from the feedback on social media, there was a clear sense that everybody who took part not only learned something useful to take back to the office, but they also made valuable connections.

And bringing people together to improve themselves through learning is central to what L&D is all about.

If you would like some help overcoming some of these challenges, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re going to be exploring each of these trends and others in coming weeks, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when these insights are published:




thinqi logo
Natalie Ann Holborow
Digital Content Specialist