Learning Technologies

Learning Technologies 2018 in Review: Microlearning, Video & Social Focus

After working with a much more diverse range of clients during 2017 and having felt my outlook as an Instructional Designer change, I was very intrigued to see what the atmosphere would be like at Europe’s leading L&D exhibition for 2018.

One thing was for certain – I did not expect the level of turnout that greeted me as I entered the Olympia centre. Everywhere I looked I could see bustling crowds of people listening to a wide range of speakers from different nations and business backgrounds; sharing their most important messages for the industry going forwards into the new year. But just what exactly were these messages? Maybe more importantly were any of them worth paying attention to?

Well the short answer is yes, but it may not be the ones you think. As I walked around trying to find the most controversial or up and coming trend, keeping one eye out for unexpected or unusual topics, I couldn’t help but notice how popular the tried and true discussion points were still, despite their relatively aged positions in the industry.


Learning Technologies


Microlearning still retained a solid and noticeable position, with multiple speakers dedicating their stage time to the deeper application of its potential. For me, and the rest of the team at WillowDNA, this proved just as exciting as any of the more fringe discussions like the role of AI chat bots in elearning and so on. It showed just how innovative and pioneering WillowDNA was over a decade ago when it first emerged on the organisational learning scene.

If microlearning is still being discussed and explored in 2018, then it is definitely a mode of learning that is here to stay. This is good news for our business as microlearning was a founding tenant of our cloud based LMS Pathway.

But it wasn’t just microlearning that retained its relevance in the 2018 conference. Seminars related to social learning technology generated a fair amount of interest, with the fostering of a user driven learning culture seemingly tapping into the ascendancy of social media within the wider world.

Ease of access and consumption convenience are facets that bleed over between social and microlearning, which could explain microlearning’s impressive buoyancy in contemporary debate. While social learning as an industry term is not a new phenomenon, by the sounds of it, the true potential and scope within elearning has yet to reach its peak. While being fairly circumstantial from business to business, social learning still has a place at the forefront of L&D debate.

Video based content also boasted a healthy contingent of speakers, who focused on angles from knowledge retention and inciting culture change to instant gratification through bite-size knowledge clips. Video as a content medium is incredibly potent, but similarly to social learning assets, it must be rendered and deployed carefully and conscientiously. We will cover the details of its effectiveness in the near future, looking into research conducted by the Fosway Group, but being emphasised within several talks indicates video based learning is still growing into its role within L&D.

These well-known L&D topics are apparently still at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds despite newer terms such as Alternate Reality and AI starting to establish beach heads in wider discourse.

I am by no means writing off these fledgling additions to the L&D arsenal, but with WillowDNA’s decade-long championing of microlearning being a case in point, things take time to emerge as dominant learning solutions. Whether that’s because the sceptics amongst us demand rigour and endurance from hot trends before accepting them or some parts of the industry arrive later to the party, the same will apply to these emerging sub-fields.

I suspect it will be some time before we see them being discussed as confidently and vigorously as the big three, Micro, Social and Video – which for me, the 2018 Learning Technologies exhibition seemed to confirm.

Rory Birch – Instructional Designer, WillowDNA 


Contact us to find out how at WillowDNA we capture social, video and microlearning within the heart of our learning solutions.

e-learning network and WillowDNA Webinar – Beyond The Blend

ELN and WillowDNA webinar – Thursday 25th May 2017, 12:00 noon

From courses to resources, self- learning, curated or created, community and collaborative learning, adaptive learning… the list of ‘how to do learning today?’ goes on. But in practical terms, learning in today’s organisations takes more than a blend; it takes an understanding of the dynamics of how stuff gets done and providing support in a way that fits people, not ‘learners’.

Sign-up now to learn more about how real learning happens in organisations and what you can do to work with your learners rather than against them!

2017 HR and L&D Conference, Swansea

Our Director of Learning Solutions, Lisa Minogue-White, will be speaking at Community Housing Cymru HR and L&D conference – “The future of learning” – on 23rd May 2017, at the Village Hotel, Swansea, South Wales.

This, the first Human Resources and Learning & Development Conference run by CHC, will be taking place on the 23d & 24th of May at the Village Hotel, Swansea.

There will be lots of opportunities to network with colleagues and enjoy conference dinner and drinks in the evening.

And if that isn’t enough, there will be a wide spectrum of workshops on various topics, and taster sessions of all of CHC’s housing toolkit training.

Click here to book a place online.

Discounted accommodation is available at the Village Hotel for delegates who book in advance of the conference date.

WillowDNA Webinar – Using off the shelf to build bespoke programmes

Our next WillowDNA webinar explores how you can use off the shelf content to create a bespoke solution.

Sign up today and join us to explore how you can create a great hub of learning resources through an effective mix of created and curated content.

  • Resources vs courses: what is expected of today’s learning mix
  • Using off the shelf content as scene setters
  • Activities that move learning into experience
  • Introducing Pathway360, our platform with preloaded content and authoring

Sign up for free via Eventbrite

Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2017

The WillowDNA team will be attending the Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2017.

Held at Olympia London on 13th June 2017, this event is the follow up to the main Learning Technologies event held in February. This allows greater exploration of the topics that proved most popular at that event.

The will be 30 L&D seminars and 20 experts speakers.

Are you planning on attending the event and interested in discussing your corporate elearning needs?

Please contact us to arrange a chat and a coffee with our Director of Learning Solutions, Lisa Minogue-White.

World of Learning 2016 – knowledge matters

20381357438_cfdf480183_o Next week, I’ll be participating in the World of Learning conference at the NEC, Birmingham and as part of the event, I’m joining Robin Hoyle, Michelle Parry-Slater and Sukh Pabial for the fringe seminar on Industry knowledge v Institutional knowledge. This is a topic very close to our hearts at WillowDNA – with our history rooted in practical knowledge management, the exploration of what the organisation knows andwhat it needs to know has informed our work for the past 11 years.  So this meant when I got the mail asking if I would take part in the panel, I typed by response quicker than the spell check could track (so no idea what my acceptance mail actually said!) So before the event, I thought I’d share with you an extract from the ‘warm up’ blog for the session (and I also recommend you read the blog that kicked it all off, an excellent piece from Robin Hoyle) “What role does a learning and development function play when there is a ubiquity of content available to anyone with a web enabled device?  Video, social networks, published research, blogs, free courses, MOOCs, hangouts, the list of content that doesn’t require the green light from procurement goes on.  Is it best if we leave learners to self curate and orchestrate learning?   After all they are at the front line of their function. I believe these arguments have been valid for decades – after all if learning and development were simply the keepers of the training catalogue, we could have done away with it years ago!  However, Robin raises a critical point – its not just about the accumulated body of knowledge about a particular function or discipline, both external or internal.  Its all about application to real work challenges and the definition of what that challenge is and how best to address it is often not given the time and resource it needs.  Sure, you could leave it to your people to find the resources they need, but if we don’t have a clear understanding of the business goals we are addressing, how some tools and techniques may work differently in our context or whether actually someone else in the organisation has already solved this challenge, we risk leaving the organisation to waste valuable time, money and resources whilst others leap ahead.  Engaged, fulfilled employees are those who are supported by resources that help make common tasks easier, complex problems easier to solve through the support of others and make available their talents for others to tap into … So what does it take to do this?” You can take a look at the full post on the learnevents website and if you are coming to World Of Learning, make sure you some along to the panel discussion at 13.20 in Seminar Theatre 2 on Thursday 20th October.  Look forward to seeing you there.

Learning Live preview – why lecture free is important

Last week I created a quick Adobe Spark view on why I love Learning Live, partly to thank the LPi for their support and the opportunity to take part, but also because as an event, I think it’s more important than ever.

As our relationships with the workplace, technology and our environment continue to shift and intertwine, it demands that we work together to shape the future of the profession to flex and adapt.  Learning professionals need to be polymaths because individuals and organisations are learning all the time, not at scheduled events or in defined e-learning.  Formal orchestrated learning has its place, just as communities and coaching do but when regarded as very separate, distinct entities, we limit our effectiveness and relevance.  We need to add value, insights, inspiration and performance impact in the flow of work It’s why the learning community with its variety of experience, approaches, favoured models, best tech, most effective engagement methods needs to work together to set out the new learning agenda.  That needs space – space to discuss, challenge, map out, draw, speak, plan, take action.  Learning Live is about working together, celebrating the diaspora of experience and giving these important conversations room to breathe, so this doesn’t stay in the realms of theory.  During my practical session tomorrow on using value chains to understand real business need, I my attendees leave with a tool they can use to create a complete view of performance.  But more than this, I hope it helps even in a small way to help shape the definition of the new learning professional. I’ll be blogging and sharing my experience from the event, so hope to see you back here for more on the future of performance.

CIPD L&D Show Preview

Take a quick look at the conference programme for this year’s CIPD L&D show and the key theme becomes clear – transforming learning. future for learning In previous years, the major of the conference has been typified by presentations of specific L&D projects, from organisational wide transformation, through to specific interventions for key areas of the business (such as new approaches to sales academies, leadership programmes or innovative use of learning technology).  This year, heads of L&D and CLOs are going bigger – sessions such as ‘How L&D Can Lead Digital Transformation in 2016’ and ‘Removing Organisational Barriers to Empower your People’ to ‘Influencing Business Leaders to Embrace the Modern Learning Agenda’ typify the agenda. I’m looking forward to reporting back from the event, to see how this transformative theme is received and some of the highlights from the session.

WillowDNA Webinar – The Next 10 Years In Learning

It’s WillowDNA’s 10th Anniversary, but rather than look back, the team are indulging in some futurology, helping you equip your business with the right technology, tools and skills needed for the new world of learning.

Learning Technologies – the dawn of the new learning age?

Well, I think I may have just caught my breath after an incredible week – a gold at the learning awards with our partnership venture, Rock and A Hard Place Learning capped quite the few days! Learning Technologies was as ever busy and vibrant, but this year there was a tangible change in the air – the conversations had moved on from the next tool or new trend but to a deeper dive into how design, technology, business drivers and environment deliver performance change.  Tech is of course still a big part of this picture because it is an intrinsic part of our lives One could argue the technologies bit in learning technologies is surplus to requirements, given it is a part of our living reality, just like blended is a redundant term as effective paths to learning are blended by default. However, its encouraging to engage in conversations with potential customers that are lead by a desire to engage with their people at a meaningful level, going deep than just getting their attention but getting their involvement, feedback and tapping into the desire to maximise their skills and talents.  This places a really exciting in which to explore future tech, led by creating a rich performance environment. So when I had a moment to grab a cup of tea and take a wander, I recorded this vlog from the show and tried to gather my thoughts… https://youtu.be/i31NWE1PxMA