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.
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
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