A straight talking guide to trends and vendors at Learning Technologies

Trade shows can be perilous places – sore feet, leaflet overload and worst of all, being sucked into a conversation about the ‘next big thing’ in learning technologies without being able to decipher the sense from the spiel. Here are a few questions you might want to ask to translate the trends into success at this year’s Learning Technologies.

The trend: Gamification

There are plenty of examples of successful games being showcased this year. Whilst it’s great to see a case study in action, what’s more interesting in the long term is the insight this project could offer you with regard to overall design and implementation. Case studies can serve as a source of inspiration, but they’re also an opportunity to glean information into a vendor’s project process and approach.

The questions to ask:

  • What insights about gamification did this project offer that could be applicable to any organisation?
  • How did you measure how many people actually used the game, and how many people enjoyed it?
  • What did they learn and apply?
  • What benefits have you seen?
  • Why did you decide to use gamification to get this message across?
  • Do you think this project would have been as successful without using a game? If not, why not?

The trend: Appreciating learners’ diverse needs in your LMS

The learner as an individual and not a ‘type’ is taking bespoke learning technologies to the next level. It’s always interesting to see how this idea impacts the learning experience on offer. Whilst the idea of learners defining their own road to development is a noble one, make sure you take a look at the platform itself to get a sense of how far the ‘power to the learner’ philosophy has been integrated.

The questions to ask:

  • Can learners curate content on this LMS? What impact can they have on it?
  • How much flexibility does the learner have to define their learning path?
  • How does this platform support the overall performance strategy of the organisation?
  •  How could I measure its direct impact in terms of behavioural change?

The trend: Big data

‘Big data’ has been around for a while now, and leveraging it has offered some valuable insights. However,it’s a ‘big’ and complex topic. Whilst learning analytics offer huge potential, most of us don’t even use the more advanced attributes of SCORM. Although many vendors will focus on using big data to track user’s interest based on behavioural trends, this will only get you so far. Hassling users with emails to log back in and complete a module might cause them to disengage. How will the vendor use big data trends to improve user experience and secure behaviour change?

The questions to ask:

  • How have you used data to shape your design and development process?
  • What do you think big data can tell us about learner engagement beyond a login rate or drop-off rate in terms of talent management and longer term behavioural change?
  • How are you using data to personalise the learning experience?
  • In what ways is data used to make commercial business decisions regarding revenue streams, communication channels, capital expenditure and other strategic business decisions?

The trend: Social and collaborative learning

Again, the thinking behind social and collaborative learning is rooted in sound thinking- allow learners to share their progress and watch the learning and its applicable uses multiply. But this relies on an active learning community. Whilst vendors might be keen to emphasise how this could work for anyone, it’s important to remember your learner’s needs, ability to contribute (both in terms of technical skill and availability) and social media familiarity before embarking on such a mature learning strategy. There are ways to integrate elements of social into any course or platform, but the key to any case study will be measurable results- how many people actually contributed/shared?

The questions to ask:

  • Why did you decide a social functionality would be helpful here?
  • Has it been tested on learners to see how frequently the functionality was used? What were the results?
  • How do you think the solution compares to other websites you visit regularly in terms of user experience?
  • How does your learning environment and content encourage real-time collaboration over and above including links to social media sites?

Saffron Interactive will be showing how we use the trends in practice and will be at Stand 36 to show you some of our behaviour changing games, content and platforms. We’ll be giving a seminar on our work with AVA to create a Digital Prevention platform- a knowledge management initiative which used multimedia and crowd-sourced content- to build and sustain an award-winning national change campaign. We’ll also be giving a seminar with IBC (a Danish Business school) about a platform which puts learners in the driving seat and offers them an ‘Amazon-like’ experience.

It’s going to be busy, so book a time to speak with us!

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About the author

Ruth Neligan - Marketting Executive

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