Learning Technologies, Olympia. January 2015

The LT Conference returned to London in January, showcasing a range of tech enterprises.

Trends are obviously very subjective, but these were gleaned from the conference:

  1. The lexicons of story-telling and journalism are appearing more frequently in learning. The language is readily-understood by a wide audience (and accessible language is always preferred to impenetrable jargon where possible) and the wider learning community are taking on some of their skills as well. Their consideration of audience, of engagement and relevance, of time and location and their agile approach to content production.
  2. Social learning is now embedded into the ambition of Learning and Development if not yet the current reality. It’s appeared in the flipped classrooms of higher education, has been more widely taken up by commercial education providers and is now challenging traditional methods in Learning and Development. I believed that the web, as a communication tool rather than a content delivery mechanism, would change society. Online learning, pre-social media, is where that first took root in the established industry of higher education and now its influence is felt across the board.
  3. Related to #2 – user generated content and self-generating Communities of Inquiry and Practice. Giving effective, accessible and relevant tools to employees to own and manage.
  4. Related to #2 and #3 – ‘event’ learning is fading from prominence as social learning platforms gain popularity. This means fewer workshops and training days. A room where a skilled instructor brings a motivated group of learners through a well-paced syllabus away from the distractions of the office is no bad thing. These events are being replaced by platforms that support continuous social learning. These communities are supported by micro-learning delivered at the time of need (e.g. 5 minute videos on a specific skill that a role needs accessed at the point of need; this supported by ongoing involvement in a community of practice formed to develop best practice for that role).


Kineo on Strategic learning

Kineo develops blended and digital learning programmes alongside internal L&D goals – their offering is aligned to business strategy. They gave an example of a one-day workshop where they kick this process off with a range of stakeholders from across the business:

  1.  Build a vision of the present that all stakeholders can agree on
  2. Explore the tools and media that deliver learning
  3. Build a vision for the future
  4. Examine personas and learning types
  5. Build and agree the broad vision for an L&D programme.

Anyone with experience of implementing and supporting learning platforms will recognise the key risk Kineo presented: that a new platform is viewed solely as a tech project leading to significant investment in functionality without parallel investment in the consideration of use and deployment.

The platform focuses on:

  • Learning plans
  • Content curation: long term strategies to manage and continuously refresh content
  • The design of learning journeys
  • The design of evaluation methods:
    • What are you measuring and what does success look like?
    • What is your current measurement – how will you benchmark against this in future?
    • Annual ‘health checks’ – evaluation plans to check if a) the platform still does what the client wants it to do and b) should it now do something else?


Acteon – Agile Video: taking a journalistic approach to video production

This was just great; inspirational, engaging and practical. The premise is that the opportunistic style of video production utilized by the news industry can be transferred to producing learning content.

The risk is that people are now well-versed in the conventions of video and very alert to low quality production and content. The strength of the media is that, as people are so familiar with video, they readily accept it as a part of the learning mix.

Journalists know how to take an engaging issue and turn it into a short form piece. Agile Production is unscripted, responsive and flexible with a clear goal in mind.

A story is approached by asking key questions:

  1. What makes it a story? Why should anyone care?
  2. What can we see? It’s a visual medium.
  3. Who can we talk to?
  4. How can words and pictures be combined to make something more?

According to the presenters, if meaningful answers can’t be elicited to these questions; the content probably shouldn’t be a video. Video is visual and about people and storytelling.

The LT conference was used as an example. The presenter would approach it knowing what content he needed to produce, but remaining flexible in how he gathered it. He designs key questions to ask every interviewee and identifies key people to engage with. He’ll leave the event knowing he has experts and members of the learning community talking about the topics he needs.


Eoin Mcdonnell

Head of Learning Technology, Floream Partnerships


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