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Looking back at Learning Technologies: innovation and inspiration

This May, Quadmarkers from our Digital and Accounts teams had the opportunity to attend Learning Technologies at the ExCel Centre in London.

Learning Technologies is one of Europe's leading showcases of organizational learning and technology. It’s a great place to see the latest trends in training and learning technology, get inspired and, of course, check out the competition. I caught up with Charlotte Earl, Fad Jamal, Luke Briggs and Neil Prior to find out what’s new in the world of learning tech. 

Leah: Tell me about what you enjoyed most about Learning Technologies. What were your event highlights?

Luke: The highlight of the event for me was actually socializing with vendors and peers, and being out in the wild, so to speak. Events like this always spark my imagination — it’s brilliant to see all of the weird and wonderful ideas that are being explored within learning and development.”

Neil: “Having the chance to meet competitors, suppliers and colleagues is always inspiring for me. I came away with a clearer understanding of the Learning Technology space as it is today, where the market sees it progressing and the possibilities of where we can take it in the future.”

Fad: “As a first time attendee, I wish we had been there longer! I was inspired by how many different and innovative companies there were and came back with loads of ideas.” 

Leah: What were the biggest technology trends this year? 

Luke: “It was clear to me that the trend this year was AR/VR, which ranged from content creation agencies (Make Real and Junction 18) to authoring tools (CenerioVR and Taggis) to a full authoring and delivery platform (ARuVR and Gleechi). Although this technology is super cool and engaging, I'm tentative about its application in day-to-day learning. This is mainly down to how accessible it actually is, especially VR, not only in price, but also in terms of learner time and motivation. There is definitely a space for this within certain sectors, and clear opportunities, but research shows people want learning to be short, accessible and on the go.

AR, on the other hand, has not been leveraged enough, and the possibilities are endless. It’s risen in popularity in the e-commerce sector, with applications to see products in your home, but I have yet to see the learning industry utilizing this technology well. This is something I think we should keep an eye on and continue to develop.”

Image of Quadmarker Fad at Learning TechnologiesFad trying out a VR headset. 

Leah: Which exhibitor or stand stood out most to you?

Charlotte: “There were three exhibitors in particular that I found really interesting:

Storytagger is a really cool platform that allows anyone to create short video stories following a formula and nudges in the app. I can definitely see applications for this platform in internal communications, as part of new hire onboarding, or to add story elements to clients’ training campaigns. 

Klaxoon is an interactive whiteboard/workshop software that could be a great tool for our trainers in live sessions. I particularly liked the ‘Good Morning Meeting’ template that gives a more visual and creative way to host a virtual team meeting. 

Good Habitz had a great presence at the event this year (not just because of the popcorn in fancy branded boxes!). They delivered an interesting session on how to create a culture of learning within a company, and it was interesting to see the parallels with our own internal approach, including making things quick, accessible and ensuring managers are empowered to support their teams.”

Neil: “For me, two companies stood out. Fifty has a novel take on learning in the flow of work using nudge theory. Their platform can overlay existing systems to deliver training and feedback in the moment. 

Elephants Don't Forget has an AI solution (Clever Nelly) that aims to counter the ‘use it or lose it’ problem of knowledge retention. Their quiz platform uses AI to provide users with job-specific micro-content, constantly adjusting the content using data from previous assessments, and spacing the delivery to keep learners engaged. This was definitely an efficient way to approach learning.”

A screenshot of team sync softwareKlaxoon's ‘Good Morning Meeting’ template

Leah: Has anything challenged or inspired you in your approach to your work? 

Charlotte: “My major takeaway was the importance of including managers in employee learning journeys. It's something we've explored recently, and something that is definitely on the minds of many people in the L&D industry. From introducing online training modules to following up with individual discussions afterwards, manager support is essential for successful organizational learning. I also came away thinking about how we can make our remote morning meetings and client briefings more visual and fun.”

Fad: “The event primarily challenged me to think about technological innovation and how we could apply it to our client solutions, as well as the inspiration we can take from different companies’ branding and the way they presented themselves.”

Neil: “AR/VR are not new technologies in the training space, but I noticed a definite increase in suppliers at this year's event. This technology is not going away, but it is not widely adopted either. The challenge training companies, like us, face is to think about how we can use AR and VR to innovate, without compromising our clients’ learning aims.”

Luke: “I think what also inspired me was what I did not see at the event. It’s difficult not to think about your own work at functions like this, and in doing so, I saw that there are not a lot of companies using authoring tools in the way we do. That really inspired me to ensure I keep pushing boundaries, and create meaningful work by exploring what can be achieved.”

Leah: What does the future of learning look like?

Luke: “The future of learning, for me anyway, is engaging content with real world applications, be it games, infographics, VR/AR simulations, or a good old fashioned article! Whatever is the best medium for the content. 

The use of AR and VR is certainly trending, but the key question to ask before using this tech is: will it help the learner with their day-to-day responsibilities? Is it the best way for them to learn a new skill or acquire new knowledge? If it is, then great. The future of learning does incorporate these new fascinating technologies, but it's all led by the learner and is in a format that works with them, and the content.”

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