It was a welcome return to one of the main events of the L&D calendar with Learning Technologies 2022.
It was so good to be back at a face-to-face event and we were immediately hit with the sheer scale and size of it as we arrived – bright lights, large stands, powerful colours and of course sweets galore! So, what did we learn…
Hybrid learning is here to stay
The learning industry likes labelling what it does (think micro learning, blended learning etc) however Hybrid Learning isn’t just a label. A thoughtful Q&A seminar, led by Andrew Jacobs, allowed the audience to ask questions about “what hybrid learning actually is”.
So, it’s widely agreed that it’s an approach to teach both face to face and virtual attendees at the same time. A form of blended learning. For the past couple of years, we’ve had lots of virtual delivery, before that lots of face to face so this is a new and exciting challenge.
The consensus was that trainers would have to work harder to ensure the virtual attendees had a similar experience to those attending in person, that content has to be appealing and keep the attention of all in the room.
For hybrid learning to work really well trainers and companies are going to have to consider the technology they use. The major delivery platforms of the past couple of years such as Zoom, Teams, Webex won’t cut it in the current form for this to work.
VR and AR – what’s the business case?
At the show I met with one of clients and we happened to discuss the use of VR and AR. The challenge we felt was how to roll out VR on a global scale when considering the investment in kits and the bandwidth required. So, this was what I asked VR providers at the show! With which I received a mixed response – but the most honest and refreshing answer was “we can’t – not yet”.
I understand the user case for VR & AR within high-risk industries is simple – training people on virtual equipment removes risk and reduces costs. However, for other industries and training topics the use of VR is probably going to be limited for the time being. For personal development the technology is an advancement of e-learning, however as you still need to click on an answer it’s not giving a user the real virtual replication of real life that it should be.
It seems clear also that artificial intelligence (AI) technology will need to develop before VR can be suitable for digital role play.
Digital worlds – what’s the appeal?
There’s been lots of publicity about the metaverse over the past 12 months – I was shown a digital world in the form of a digital conference. Replicating a real-life conference, it reminded me of games like Minecraft and Animal Crossing.
I embrace the digital world however I was left without a definite answer as to why the users would want to access in this format. I was given lots of reasons why to do it in this way e.g., brings global people together, reduces carbon from travel, inexpensive which I agree with, but not “why would people want to be in this world”. I’m open to it but was left pondering how many people my age and older would be? Is this more for the Gen Z and the start of how the digital landscape will look? Considering the joy people had in being at a face-to-face event I don’t see these platforms growing as fast as predicted but I could be wrong.
LMS – lots of choice, more differentiation needed
The Learning Technologies website highlights 82 LMS companies exhibiting so for those visiting to do research how do they even start narrowing down who they speak to?
Lots of hard work had been put in by creative marketing teams for this show, creating eye catching stands however differentiation is key.
The large companies already have their name known in the industry, which is reinforced with a large stand, thus reinforcing their brand. However, for the mid and smaller size companies, with aspirations to be larger, perhaps they need to be doing things differently – stand out for what you are now or who your audience is e.g. A boutique LMS for companies with 1000 people.
I’m also wondering, who is driving the services the providers offer? Do companies have all of the needs the providers offer, or do the providers drive the market?
What is clear from the this event and from market research from Fortune Business Insights is that the LMS market will continue to grow. This growth will also be seen in the middleware services like LXP which can take clunky LMS content and apply UX/UI principles to make it look more appealing.
An execution tool rather than final solution
Learning technologies will only continue to grow as the world continues to develop, new technology appears and barriers to entry reduce.
Technology in learning should be recognised as an execution tool within a larger strategy and not the sole answer to helping people learn. Recognise that implementing learning technology is only the start of or part of the process.
Is there something else that can better support you with your L&D needs instead or alongside learning technology? Get the support you need to consider your L&D needs as a whole and what technology suits your needs.
Finally and ultimately you must always consider why it’s being used and what the end user experience will be!