What’s Trending in L&D? – Our Key Takeaways from Learning Technologies 2019

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Natalie Ann Holborow
Digital Content Specialist
What’s Trending in L&D? – Our Key Takeaways from Learning Technologies 2019

As Europe’s leading showcase of learning and technology used to support workplace learning, Learning Technologies is always the biggest event in our calendar. Every year, over 8,500 visitors and more than 200 exhibitors bustle through the doors to enjoy a jam-packed schedule of talks, networking opportunities and to explore the range of technologies on offer to support the modern learner.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited the Thinqi stand over those two days. We enjoyed every conversation we had – whether it was about modern learning, informal learning, analytics or blended learning (…or, of course, blended coffee). We hope you found the event as engaging and insightful as we did and look forward to continuing those discussions.

For those of you who missed the opportunity or want to know what our main takeaways were for the event, we’ve compiled a list of some of the key trends that were prevalent this year.

1. The Robots are Coming – and We Need to Upskill Our People

There was a general feeling that the future of work has many of us genuinely concerned – will the robots take our jobs? Will we be left to face mass unemployment? Will any of our skills really be of any value to the workplace in future? Both Marcia Conner
and Daniel Susskind’s opening addresses focused on concerns surrounding automation and robotics, dispelled common misconceptions, and forced us to think about how we can ensure that L&D keeps abreast of rapid developments to stay relevant in the ever-changing workplace.

2. The Role of the L&D Professional is Changing to Support the Needs of the Modern Learner

The learning landscape of the modern workforce is undergoing a radical transformation. Learners are becoming more independent and skills requirements are evolving, bringing fresh challenges for organisations to face. There’s no denying L&D is changing – and it’s time for us to rethink the role of the L&D practitioner.

This was of course the focus of the seminar by our own Thinqi Ambassador Steve Finch, who outlined some of the key skills today’s L&D practitioners need in order to future-proof their roles and keep up with the demands of the modern learner. The modern-day L&D profession was also the focus of the talk by Michelle Ockers and Vikki Liogier, where they explored some of the current and future skills practitioners need to succeed, as well as the shifts in mindset they must adopt.

3. We Need to Work With Data – From Design to Evaluation

We highlighted in our previous blogs that although learning can be measured in a number of ways, it is important to take into account the right metrics if you want to prove the bottom-line value of L&D. What’s more, measurement can be used to inform your learning design and ensure your future L&D strategies are aligned with what learners are engaging with most – something which is just part of a concept known as ‘digital body language’.

Data-fuelled learning was the focus for the session delivered by Hannah Gore, Lori Niles-Hoffman and Nick Coley, which debated what actually constitutes meaningful learning data and examined how it is becoming an important part of the L&D profession today. Free seminars such as Karen Herbert-Maccaro’s ‘Learning Behaviour Metrics You Should (But Probably Aren’t) Measuring Today’ also highlighted some of the most important things that can be done to help understand content consumption patterns and learner engagement behaviours to determine the effectiveness of a learning programme.

4. Videos and Webinars Are Powerful Tools to Support Learning – When Done Right

Video learning has been a key focus in the L&D community throughout 2018, so it was no surprise to see that it was the subject of many of the free seminar talks as well as that of Jo Cook, Barbara Thompson and Jaco van der Worp during the conference. Anybody can download an app, shoot a video and upload it to their preferred social channel now, but how can we make sure it’s done right?

The conference talk gave some practical tips on how to create video that’s authentic and effective in engaging people, and highlighted some of the key considerations for sharing high-quality videos with the world via various channels.

5. We Need to Work More Closely With Our Stakeholders

One of the best things about these events is that they give you an opportunity to really connect with others in the L&D community, find out their philosophies and understand the main barriers they are facing today. Upon chatting with L&D practitioners, I learned the most common complaint is that L&D simply isn’t getting the right support in most organisations. And the most challenging stakeholders? Business leaders. Many of the other attendees I spoke to were looking to come away enlightened on the subject of getting their stakeholders on board with learning.

This was the focus of Jason Flynn and Krystyna Gadd’s highly interactive session ‘Business-Aligned Learning’, which looked at the key communication skills needed for stakeholder management, working and aligning with business departments and shifting perceptions of learning from the functional to the strategic. The session was as popular as you would imagine, and seemed to work perfectly with the subject matter covered in Gemma Critchley and Kate Cooper’s session on collaborative learning. It was clear from both talks that communication skills are vitally important to the modern-day practitioner for breaking down barriers and getting your organisation to see the relevance of learning to achieving business aims.

6. It’s Time to Close the Gender Gap Between Men and Women in Senior L&D Roles

On the second day of the conference, Donald Taylor revealed some staggering statistics on the gap between men and women in senior L&D roles. The conclusion of the research was that if you want a position of authority in L&D, you have more chance if you’re a man.

The full details of the report can be found here, and this theme was further explored in various seminar talks including the much-anticipated session ‘Women in Learning’ by Kate Graham, Mirjam Neelen, Lorna Matty and Niki Virdee. The discussion was used to demonstrate how a range of women were already carving out successful careers in L&D and the steps both men and women can take to do the same or support others.

In Summary…

The main message from Learning Technologies 2019 is that we needn’t fear technology – as our work and learning becomes increasingly digitalised, robots are not going to steal our jobs and we aren’t going to lose our humanity. Technology is there as a valuable tool to help the modern L&D professional to assess the needs of their organisation, find a match between these needs and the right technology, prove the business case, plan an effective rollout strategy, drive engagement and then evaluate.

If we’re going to help the modern learner to succeed, we need to stop fearing technology. It’s time to focus instead on using it to make our people the best that they can be.

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:

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Natalie Ann Holborow
Digital Content Specialist