Elearnz in Review: 7 Trends Revealed

Last week, I had the opportunity to join my colleagues at the 2015 Elearnz conference at the beautiful Maritime Room in Auckland, and it was a great opportunity to hear from international speakers on the latest trends in the industry and how it impacts all of us. Oh, and enjoying the cannon launch at noon everyday. 

The Future of Learning is Tech Friendly

International thought leader in learning and development, Nigel Paine, opened the conference with huge enthusiasm in his keynote speech, declaring that personalised technology was changing the world and learning. Nigel’s keynote set the tone for the conference beautifully. He touched on future trends such as Virtual Reality, using Google Cardboard and wearable tech as being the next big thing in learning and development. He also challenged organisations to embrace technology and encourage the intelligent use of social media, which would allow learners to pull and curate the knowledge they need, when they need it. Everyone in attendance was looking to the future and excited by all the possibilities in learning and development. The themes Nigel introduced would continue to run strongly throughout the conference.  

If You're Going to Gamify Learning, Do it Right      

Our very own Richard Durham gave an insightful presentation on Gamification going beyond leaderboards  and badges, discussing how even simple text based games can be highly engaging - the key to it all of course, is using gamification correctly. The Gamification session built upon brain science discussed in the keynote and emphasised that play and fun are fundamental to how we learn; they are more than just nice to haves. Rich talked about the four types of fun and shared some great tips on how games can bring a narrative and exploration aspect to our learning, which could engage our learners’ hearts and minds.  

You can catch the full recording of Richard's presentation here. And as a extra treat, Richard will be hosting a free webinar on August 26, Play to Learn by Learning to Play. So sign up, and learn to play! 

Moving Beyond Traditional Learning with MOOCs

MOOCs were discussed extensively throughout Elearnz. Once the flavour the month, they seem to have fallen by the wayside as they haven’t lived up to initial expectations, but Professor Dennis Viehland and Dr Sue Watson showed how MOOCs can be successful with some thoughtful design. It was amazing to see how many delegates participate in MOOCs, including my own colleagues who look to courses online for personal and professional development. The Gamification MOOC I recently completed from Penn State was very successful from my point of view, as it focused on creating a community with a blended approach to the content, and actively encouraged engagement through the forums and sharing relevant content for other students in the course (plus I learned a good thing or two from it). The MOOCs gurus mentionned that the dropout rates often seen aren’t in fact a sign of failure, rather the learners are getting what they want from the MOOC and we should continue to encourage learners to pull and curate their own learning. They suggested that MOOCs can go beyond traditional learning, as a pre-hire learning tool or by helping us spot skilled talent - an interesting concept when added to an organisation. 

Learners Are Overwhelmed – It’s Time to Think About Curation

Day Two opened with a quick showcase of favourite tools, including the multi-device Adapt Framework, before Elliot Masie skyped in from New York. Elliot opened his session by declaring that our learners are simply put: overwhelmed! In the age of Google and the modern world of learning there is more information than we can possibly take in. Instead of recreating information that is better presented elsewhere why don’t we allow, encourage and help our learners to curate their own learning. Elliot’s session was inspirational and energetic and he finished up with a warning to ensure we curate from a variety of sources (and most importantly - not just visual curation, but auditory too) in order to keep an open mind and continue to disrupt our own preconceived ideas!

Social Media as a Personal Learning Network

Con Sotidis, or @LearnKotch as most of us know him in the Twittersphere, sparked discussion throughout the event on Twitter, encouraging people to share their thoughts and discuss the topics as they were raised. Following on from Elliot Masie, he provided us with a whistle stop tour of social media and how it can be used effectively for learning.

Con highlighted that social media isn’t just for the younger generation; it can be used for curation, to participate and make sense of new ideas, to engage with people and to collaborate. He demonstrated this by explaining how he uses social media to connect with people in the industry not just in the Trans-Tasman, but across the globe - to raise questions, spark debate and keep abreast of everything going on in the field.

For me this was a timely reminder to get back on Twitter and ensure I am curating interesting stories that move me, and hopefully inspiring those who know me in the real and digital world. 

Embracing the 70 in 70/20/10 and Designing More Complex Blends

Next on stage was Elearning Solutions Manager, Tina Griffin, who from the onset declared that in the last few years, blends are becoming more complex.  Whilst the conference had us in our seats talking about curation, utilising technology, encouraging learner responsibility and how we can help overwhelmed, Tina helped connect the dots.  The last few years marked a shift in blended learning, as  learning professionals have been looking more closely at the 70% and how we can bring structure, track real activities, and embrace new technologies and better activities into what was once traditional blends. And what better way to showcase innovation than with a blended onboarding programme!

Shockingly enough, 33% of new hires leave in the first year. Ouch. Never had it been clearer to me that we must do something phenomenal for our new joiners. The bad habits most often associated with Onboarding are overloading the learner, rushing them and failing to provide support for the learner or their managers. We should design our blends to help new hires seek connections and belonging but too often organisations want minimum time to competence and compliance resulting in a poor experience for the learner. 

My own onboarding journey at Kineo was great fun as I already knew everyone; I felt like I asked to sit at the cool kids table at school and they said yes! I’m still so happy that I get to hang out with them, drink coffee and chat learning. One of the best tips from Tina's presentation is a reminder that the best Onboarding journey begins pre hire and extends throughout the first 90 days; taking inspiration from marketing and creating a campaign to support your learning can have a huge impact on your new hires perception of your organisation.

You can watch Tina's full presentation on Navigating the Onboarding Journey with Blends to learn more about the steps you need to take to ensure a smoother ride for newbies.  

Embrace Change, Trust Your Learners

Nigel Paine’s closing speech encouraged us to embrace the new world, to trust and enable learners to take responsibility for their own learning. It’s all about the blend and community curated content; build the basic structure, release the content and trust the community to do the rest. At times, we can focus on creating the best possible drop of elearning when actually we should focus on creating the biggest possible ripple as a result of the drop of learning.

Final Reflections

My takeaway from eLearnz… the future is here and our learners are tech savvy and overwhelmed. As Nigel mentionned, technology should not be a barrier. Let’s focus on helping our learners access the learning they need, when they need it regardless of what device they are on.

Let’s help them curate the vast amount of knowledge and resources available to them. Let's encourage and enable them to share that knowledge with those around them - whether through the modern blended programme, the latest LMS Portal, or even on social media. Let's embrace the future and raise a glass to our learners and the possibilities we have at our fingertips for better learning.

Where to start? 

If you want to chat about learning, or a grab a coffee, feel free to contact me


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