Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2013 Review

So, Learning Technologies is usually a wintery affair in January, even accompanied by the odd snow storm in previous years. But this year, the organisers decided to do something different and combined the annual summer meeting of their Learning and Skills Group with the first ever Learning Technologies Summer Forum.

The Kineo team were one of the first to get involved with the new event and had a fantastic day talking to the L&D community and listening to conference sessions from the great and the good. There was a huge amount of interest in our Adapt authoring framework for responsive elearning design. We also showcased some pretty cool new content and demonstrated the latest version of Totara which includes the new Open Badges initiative from Mozilla.

From ADDIE men to Mad Men: what marketing can teach L&D

This session was hosted by our very own Stephen Walsh. Exploring what we in L&D can learn from marketing and communications is a hot topic right now and it’s something we believe passionately in. The message went down well with the standing-room-only audience who gave Stephen a spontaneous round of applause at the end!

Find out what he was talking about and get some practical hints and tips by watching the recording of the session, or view the slideshare below.

But enough about us. What else did we hear about and learn on the day?

The future’s bright...

Following his impactful keynote session at January’s conference, the mind blowing futurist delivered a talk on ‘Work, learning and living in the future’. His take on things is that even now there is no longer a divide between the digital world and the physical one. And in the future this will become even more pronounced. Everything will be digitally powered, according to Leonhard, so if we have robots or other technology doing manual work for us, where does that leave people?

By continuing to develop and evolve technology, are we doing ourselves out of our jobs? No, it leaves us moulding careers based on human factors like design, negotiation and coaching. Interestingly, he sees learning and development at the core of this type of activity. So it looks like the future might not be quite so bleak for L&D as some might have us believe. Good news eh? You can view Gerd’s slides and other presentations on his site.

New technologies

There was a lot of focus throughout the conference and in the free seminars on innovations like Open Badges and Tin Can API. It feels like some of these topics have been discussed for a long time now, but Open Badges for example are now a reality in Totara LMS so the debate has moved from the theoretical to the practical which is great to see. Tin Can is still in the early stages of adoption but Megan Bowe from Rustici told us in her session that actually deciding strategically what to track and how to use this new standard is trickier than implementing the technology itself. Otherwise we run the risk of being drowned in too much data which won’t do anyone any good.

And of course mobile learning is still a hot topic. But we found our approach to responsive learning design is capturing people’s imagination more and more. And the news we’re turning our Adapt framework into an open source project was met with much enthusiasm. Stay tuned folks, it’s going to be an exciting initiative.

Be brave!

In her session, Laura Overton of Towards Maturity talked us through the 7 habits of highly aligned L&D teams:

  1. Actively involve business leaders in learning 
  2. Use strategic business objectives to determine learning priorities
  3. Focus on end results: it’s not about the training intervention, it’s about what happens afterwards
  4. Integrate learning with talent and HR
  5. Demonstrate the business value of learning
  6. Ensure learners understand their contribution to learning – for example, collaboration and commitment are key
  7. Reciprocate and ensure you match the commitment from staff to learning

The stand out message from this particular session was a tale about an L&D manager in an organisation who were ranked 15th in an industry survey on customer service. This result didn’t go down well with the senior management. So the L&D manager emailed the CEO saying he felt his department could help them go from 15th to 5th in 12 months with some smart training deployment.

The CEO responded immediately and the L&D team are now involved in strategic discussions with the rest of the business to improve the standards of their customer service. The message to ‘be brave’ and see where L&D can support broader business initiatives rang out loud and clear. And that is something we can all learn from. So after a jam packed day, we already can’t wait for January’s Learning Technologies event. We’ll be there, 29-30 January 2014, on Stand 64. See you there?


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