March 3, 2024

Change, Learning Technologies, and the future

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Daniel Susskind – Photo by Steve Wheeler

All change! Attending Learning Technologies in a completely new, yet strangely familiar venue was quite an experience. It was akin to welcoming an old friend to live in your own home and watching them struggle to work out where the coffee is stored, and how the dodgy ‘fridge door works. London ExCel has long been the home of the BETT Show, which I have attended on many occasions, but in the last few days it has also been the new home of Learning Technologies, which for umpteen years has been hosted at Olympia, on the other side of the city. ExCel is very familiar to me, but for the conference, it will take a little time to adapt.

I arrived with a great deal of anticipation, because Learning Technologies always holds a lot of promise. And it didn’t disappoint. I want to note some of the reasons why Learning Technologies is set to grow and gain more importance as it makes the ExCel Centre its new home.

Firstly, there are the people. They travel from everywhere to be together for two days of intense discussing, thinking, collaborating and creating. So many great experts and professionals gather each year from all corners of the globe, and the dialogue is so rich, it is hard not to see Learning Technologies continuing to grow and remain relevant. Old friends I met with include Andrew Jacobs, Jane Hart, David Wilson, Ger Driesen, Jo Cook, Niall Gavin, Laura Overton, Andy Wooler, Nigel Paine, Annie Garfoot and Michael Strawbridge, and from across the pond Jane Bozarth, Will Thalheimer, Cathy Moore, Shannon Tipton and Marcia Connor. It was also great to make new friends, including Hannah Gore, Ezzy Moon, Mirjam Neelen, Trish Uhl, Barbara Thompson, Nik Welch and Anthony Williams. These are all great people who deserve larger audiences for their ideas….. and…. I have probably left out loads of people, for which I apologise!

The there is the content. Here are just a few of the standout highlights: The opening address by Dr Daniel Susskind (Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University, pictured above) titled: The future of work: technology, myths and the importance of learning. In this erudite and fast paced presentation Daniel discussed how the working world of the future might be shaped by new and emerging technologies. He scotched several of the myths around the introduction of robotics and AI in organisations, and argued that work will be very different in the future from what we know today. He showed that anxieties about change and new technologies have always been with us, but that we adapt and change to meet the challenges continually. He concluded by stating that these changes will not mean the demise of corporate learning and development, but will mean that learning at the point of work will be even more important for the survival of our organisations.

Other stand out sessions also dealt with digital transformation (Euan Semple), new and emerging trends and technologies (Redthread’s Dani Johnson, E-learning Guild’s David Kelly), AR and VR in action (Ryan Peterson, James Barton), Digital learning innovation (Rob Hubbard) and game design in L and D (Karl Kapp). As ever there were far more sessions to attend than could humanly be possible, but following the excellent backchannel team led by Fosway’s Kate Graham helped everyone to keep track of what was going on in sessions they couldn’t physically attend. Each session had its own hashtag, but the generic hashtag to seek on Twitter for a summary of everything is #LT19uk.

Finally, my personal view is that Learning Technologies is growing in influence, and in particular, with many new delegates attending for the first time, word is getting around that the event is valuable for learning and development professionals worldwide. The scope for expansion of the event is massive. LT19uk only took up one 8th of the space available for exhibitions, and the conference rooms occupied are also a fraction of those available within the vast building. It would only be a lack of innovation and imagination on the part of the organisers that would prevent the event from growing, both in influence and numbers. But event chair Donald H Taylor and his organising team have more than enough of both, so I predict Learning Technologies has a bright future.

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Change, Learning Technologies, and the future by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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