Last week I provided coverage from Learning Technologies 2012 for Personnel Today (day one and day two) and I also wrote a post on some of the big conference themes.

I wanted to follow this up with a look at some of the key technology themes that were talked about at the show. From walking around the exhibition and listening to conference speakers it seemed as if there were clear areas of focus for L&D teams in the coming year.

According to the exit survey of delegates it was clear the big learning vendors were the number one port of call. No surprises there. CrossKnowledge published its first European e-learning barometer at Learning Technologies which showed the increasing rate of uptake of learning as a delivery method:

British companies, despite having used e-learning for less time than other countries, are quickly developing their application of e-learning: in 2011, 51% of companies delivered at least one training via e-learning to over 50% of their employees compared to 39% in 2010.


The most recent Towards Maturity report into learning technology paints the same picture, revealing that 78% of organisations currently use some form of e-learning and over half plan to increase their usage over the coming 12 months.

Although elearning is a major focus for organisations and adoption rates are increasing rapidly, that doesn’t mean what’s on offer is going to provide the silver bullet.

If it was there would have been no reason for the e-Learning Network to launch a Campaign for Effective elearning at the show. E-learning chair Rob Hubbard explains why in this interview:

Rob Hubbard on the campaign for effective elearning (mp3)


So, it’s a big focus for organisations but L&D teams need to ensure what they are buying into will actually engage learners (think here about where mobile and social fit in).

As smartphone adoption rockets along with that of tablet PCs so organisations are trying to get to grips with their mobile learning strategy. This is going to be a huge area of development and the likes of Epic have come to market with products to ride the mobile wave.

For all the potential, mobile does create big challenges. Creating engaging content that works across all handsets and devices and all mobile platforms is a big undertaking, especially if you have a large amount of content already built in Flash! And mobiles provide a different user experience so content has to be tailored to the device. Simply putting content that sat on PCs onto mobile devices in most cases won’t cut it.

Aside from the technology there is then the culture of learning on the go and outside of work. Can organisations expect their people to be learning on their mobiles to and from work, does that become work time? I’m sure someone in HR is thinking about that right now! The fact is that this culture shift does and will challenge established team and organisational structures and ways of doing things.

Learning from each other
When I say learning from each other I mean social learning, peer to peer and other forms of online learning that involve real time sharing and participation.

This is a major theme that runs through learning right now and it was reflected in the conference sessions at Learning Technologies.

Learners are driving the learning agenda and technology is enabling this. So, networks and social tools are enabling colleagues to share relevant information in a timely manner. Donald Taylor talked at length about peer to peer learning and how organisations need to be able to step aside to let people share and learn.

But where does social fit in? In the LMS, in the firewall? Social is a big challenge for learning management system vendors and many have and are developing social capabilities. Layering social on top of a an existing system may not be enough as the concepts around social are totally different to the push and pull of the LMS experience.

My conclusion from two days at learning technologies 2012 was that learners are increasingly driving the learning agenda and if they aren’t they need to be. For L&D the challenges are linked to enabling this to happen and ensuring content is captured and shared in relevant and timely ways. For L&D professionals that means really understanding what the tech can do.

Finally, L&D teams are not alone in facing these challenges. A look around the business will show that the rest of the business is grappling with these issues too. So, there are great opportunities to learn and share together, to build technology that joins everyone together. And who better to facilitate this than L&D?