Recently I have been spending my evenings in learning mode and reviewing some of the sessions from the 2021 Learning Technologies Conference.
For reference I attended the following sessions:
Beyond Zoom and Teams – Making High Impact Learning Programmes Engaging in a Digital Format – Alan Hiddleston (D2L)
Why 2021 is the Year for Social Learning Emma Layton (Thrive)
What You Need to Know About The State of Skills in 2021 Anthony Wilkey (Degreed)
Developing Memorable Learning Experiences Sergio and Ricardo (Netex Learning)
Developing Learning Habits Celine Mullins (Adaptas)
Learning Analytics from Inception to Maturity Ben Betts (Learning Pool)
Measuring Learning Activity and Demonstrating a Learning Culture Dr Hannah Gore (CCG)
To further embed my learning I have also been sketchnoting the key points which you can find on another blog post here. Below is a summary of the themes I found in each of the sessions:
- Reskilling is coming and we need to be ready – We all know the world has changed and there was frequent reference to the fact that 50% of employees will need reskilling by 2025. Anthony Wilkey cited research by Degreed that there is a belief that current skills aren’t future proof and that 24% of core skills will be obsolete within one year and that skills on the agenda are a mixture of people and technical skills.
- The Role of L&D is Changing – It’s not just about design and delivery anymore (whether virtual or classroom) we are now curators and moving into the the world of creating learning experiences. The session from Netex Learning highlighted the role of a Learning Experience Designer as including directing course design and development, determining the content organisation and advising on assessment. Dr Hannah Gore spoke about the need to build ourselves first and equip ourselves in business skills – speak the businesses language and “Claw your way into the boardroom.” In addition L&D objectives should be business objectives – how have they helped develop the business.
- Learning in the Flow of Work – Learning shouldn’t be a seperate activity to work – it is work. Anthony Wilkey stated that where there is dynamic participation in the learning the retention rate was 75%. Celine Mullins cited the work of Richard Boyatzsis on having to practice new thoughts, behaviours and experiments.
- Digital isn’t just about Teams, Zoom and Adobe Connect – As Alan Hiddleston pointed out let’s move beyond the virtual live sessions and think about podcasts, videos, documents and self driven workbooks which are more flexible for the end user. Learning at the point of need was a phrase that occurred again and again and in a potential world of hybrid working it can’t always be a workshop 9:30 – 16:00.
- Learning needs to be personalised – I often talk about the ‘smorgasbord of learning’ where individuals can take a pick and mix approach to learning in a way that suits them best. This idea takes this one step further and highlights the need for a personalised learning journey where learners complete knowledge assessments to check what learning is required. Celine Mullins took this one step further and talked about putting being human into learning and helping people how they learn best which makes the learning more likely to be embedded. This includes identifying our own derailers and limiting beliefs and how we can overcome these.
- It’s about creating a Learning Culture – Dr Hannah Gore describes this brilliantly as you know when you have it as everyone in the business just accesses the learning and also emphasised that learning is no longer geographic. In a past life I have had regional roles where we used central locations – for some reason I was magnetically attracted to Milton Keynes. The idea of learning accessible as Shakira likes to say ‘Wherever, whenever’ would have been attractive when I was sat in those traffic jams on the M6.
- Co-Creation is the Key – It’s not just about L&D/OD anymore – the idea of co-creation and User Generated Content (UGC) was spoken of repeatedly. Emma Layton cited some interesting statistics including the fact that 92% of consumers trust recommends. With this in mind UGC is an attractive with the logical conclusion that if a colleagues likes or makes something we are more likely to view. Dr Hannah Gore noted that sharing learning decreases stress as people feel able to step away from work as someone else can pick this up.
- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway! – Okay I admit I stole the title from Susan Jeffers books but I think it applies here. Again in Emma Layton’s session she discussed why it makes us nervous including the fact that we might want it to be perfect or not everyone will be comfortable. The clear message here is don’t be afraid to be real and authentic. Personally, I love a short iPhone video which I have used before as testimonials for sessions – people love the idea that this is someone recommending this and better still it is someone they know!
- Start Simple – In good northern terms ‘Don’t overegg the pudding!’. In the spirit of not waiting for perfection start with articles, links, questions, discussions and move on from there. As Aerosmith once said ‘Life’s a journey not a destination.”
- Engagement is still key – Netex Learning cited the research of Niels Floor who noted that a good learning experience is positive, has meaning and is human centred. This links to the work Richard Boyatzsis cited by Celine Mullins that if we engage with the parasympathetic nervous system we enter the world of possibility, dreams and optimism meaning that we are more likely to make changes.
- Find Some Champions and Engage – Having champions in the business makes sense who can spread the word, be a test user group and feedback on how our interventions are hitting the ground. It is interesting to note that as Anthony Wilkey suggested that promoters of L&D are 28% more likely to get promoted, 27% more likely to move to another team and less likely to leave the business.
- The Role of Managers Remains Crucial – This includes providing feedback, recommending resources and providing opportunities to put the new skills into action. To support this activity we need to provide templates and guides to support.
- Metrics Remain a Mixed Bag – I love a good metric and a spot of data analysis so this area still continues to be one of huge interest to me so I was interested to hear Ben Betts talk about the fact that 94% of Senior Executives have an interest in learning analytics with 70% having no learning analytic resources – a slight contradiction. He then went on to talk about having a portfolio of evidence that learning has made a difference. In my own experience this has included evaluation data, knowledge uplift data and evidence from manager conversations. In addition it was also interesting to hear that on The Maturity Model most organisations sit between describe (the what’s going on approach) and analyse (why has it occurred) suggesting that implementing this analysis would be a point of difference. My biggest learning here was Dr Hannah Gore who emphasised the need for business outcomes and not vanity metrics to please us.
I want to finish by saying a heartfelt thank you to all the speakers and everyone who attended who made this a really valuable learning experience.
I hope you found my musing useful and what are you going to take away and use?