Learning technologies first day observations

As a learning and development professional I like to stay up-to-date about what’s new and happening in the industry and how potential systems can help the learning experience. With that in mind I attended the first day of the Learning Technologies exhibition in the Olympia in London. My expectation was to learn about sexy new technology for social learning and also gamification options for learning going forward.

Hmm… now how can I say this, I have been underwhelmed by a long shot so far!!! Games and game technology for learning I have yet to find and encounter, so I will trawl through some of the documentation tonight to hopefully find those gems tomorrow. It does really fascinate me though that real forward thinking hasn’t reached the mainstream exhibition, I do believe there is some mention in the conference on the topic based on their tweet feed and some of the forward thinkers I already follow. What I also wonder about is whether this is a reflection of what is going on in companies and whether I am just dreaming of our future ahead? Some of my biggest aha moments in learning have happened as a result of games and simulations, the more competitive usually the bigger the learning.

In terms of facilitating social learning a lot of the e-learning and LMS system providers have caught on to the words of social learning, but with some of them I am not convinced they have any idea of what they actually mean they just want to sell their piece of technology or how that would actually work in practice. I did meet some gems so far too, but not that many. What I would love a system to be able to do, I haven’t seen so far, but maybe I will find out tomorrow.

I attended one free talk by Videoarts, whose video’s I have used for training in the past and I totally love the original thinking of John Cleese, way back in the day when this was unheard of. Ironically the presentation itself was pretty boring, here is a company that has exciting content, massive back end materials, but the presentation on how to engage with the youtube generation left me wishing I was watching youtube right there, because it was dry content read of a powerpoint. Come on guys… you have such great stuff to offer a bit of wow factor could have been good. In any case that sort of ended my appetite for the talks, who seemed to all have the boring reading of a powerpoint theme in common, so much for innovative presentation style in learning and development, if innovative is too far a stretch then ideally engaging as a minimum, not too much to ask I hope?

I did like the concept of learning and development evolving into a more curator type of role of providing relevant information on multiple levels, who get’s to see what and what they do with it.

I had an impressive demo by a provider for Google on creating simulation based learning modules with amazing back end behavioural statistics. I totally loved how the system created modules, even though I wonder how it would be implemented in practice when looking at soft skills and how much time it would actually take to develop and also how much of the trainers input would be good enough to have meaningful results, but it was excellent in output and the data tracking of how well somebody responded gave management information most of us in learning and development can only dream of. Behavioural analysis data on your whole target market, well done ETU – www.EmpowerTheUser.com.

The guys that in my view seemed to know their stuff when it comes to social learning are www.webanywhere.co.uk and their 70:20:10 model implemented with Zara in retail gave a good example of encouraging learning across an organisation and giving people the tools to do exactly that. In my ideal world I would love the learning to travel both ways bottom-up, top-down and additionally peer to peer side ways, a bit like an internal showcase of what I learned this week in short snippets done by everyone and sorted by a searchable database and as a user you can track your colleagues, mentors, managers… just like you would on social media. Technically it is all possible, practically it is about encouraging people to put themselves out there with the potential of getting it wrong some times, and totally spot on other times. I guess for most companies that will mean a cultural shift, which when you have a practical mindset doesn’t have to be too time consuming although you will invariably meet that as a point of resistance. Most leaders read articles, books, watch youtube, tedx and other information to stay-up-to date all we want them to do is share their sources and if they have interesting views are willing to add to into their source, then social learning has started… easy 🙂

In terms of leadership development, I stumbled across a gem from www.primarycoloursconsulting.co.uk namely the Primary Colours Model of Leadership which has their trademark on it and comes with a 360, a leadership report and employee engagement surveys, which they will teach practitioners to use and roll out. In terms of content all the key elements of leadership were covered from strategy to operational result and interpersonal skills. Having spoken for some time with a professor or SAID business school, he convinced me of the value of the programme and it’s content and then when he mentioned the crazily low price I questioned if he was being real, but I guess that’s when you meet academia whose love for learning is bigger than the need for profit. Anyhow in my view highly recommendable (especially before they put their prices up).

These were my highlights and lowlights of my morning at the Learning Technologies, I am delving into some of the documentation I picked up tonight to plan my visit for tomorrow and I will share my 2nd day observations also, hopefully getting in will be less chaotic tomorrow morning.