Four Big Trends from Learning Technologies 2017

We had another great show at the 2017 Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition. It was fantastic to meet, reconnect and talk to so many passionate L&D people from all over the world.

As always there was a huge amount to see, experience and discuss so we’ve boiled it down to the top four big trends that came out of the 500+ conversations we had.

  • Classroom to digital leap - What does good blended learning look like?
  • Maintaining learner engagement - A role for VR - AR? - New tactics and technology for learner engagement?
  • L&D - Gaining organisational support - How to muster the right organisational backing for 21st century L&D
  • xAPI - Assessment data driving performance and quality in the business

Classroom to digital - the blend

For an organisation heavily invested in the science of blended learning, it was encouraging to have so many conversations with L&D managers, training managers and HR managers around practical steps to take to provide a blended experience for their learners. After all, the latest research shows companies that use a blended approach increase the application of learning to the workplace four times more so than those that don’t. Now if that isn’t a compelling reason I don't know what is...

Research bears this out

It’s a drum we’ve been beating for a few years now. In terms of the research, little has changed in the past couple of years. This infographic, for example, is as true today as it was when we designed it back in 2015. The importance of giving learners control over their learning has a positive impact.

Snippet from the Blended Learning Infographic

Enabling learners to self-monitor their understanding, giving them additional learning time, and putting them in control of their own interactions with media, leads to greater success in terms of performance and outputs.

Maintaining learner engagement - A role for VR - AR?

At CDSM, we draw from a wide range of learning and memory theories be it as varied as behaviourism, constructivism and/or social constructivism. With fundamentally differing views on how people learn, no one would blame you for assuming that these theories are mutually exclusive. However, in order to achieve a best-fit pedagogy, we carefully select the bits that work and can be practically applied for the relevant context, always utilising best strategies to help people embed and recall knowledge and skills. We even continue to consider learning styles theory (contentious eh?), and how we can cater for different learners, constructing an experience that will interest and challenge each and every one.

Read our 6 part blog series on e-learning design

Making sure that e-learning suits the circumstances of the end user it is intended for is equally important if an e-learning course is to be a success. That’s why our Active Learning Model™ subscribes to leading thought on user experience, accessibility and usability, and why we spurn off-the-shelf products in favour of bespoke solutions that reflect and fit our customers’ needs.

Is there a role in this for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality? Undoubtedly there is. The prevalence of VR at the show bears this out. However, rather than being the holy grail of learning, VR and AR are another facet of an ever-increasing ecosystem of tools and techniques available. They are strategies and tactics that can be used to encourage engagement, foster gameplay and enable participation via competition and reward.

So what role will VR and AR play?

Clearly VR and AR will have a significant role to play in skills and scenario-based simulation training. The technologies are developing apace and will need to continue to do so if VR and AR are to set the standard in affordable training solutions for all. Right now the technology is being exploited as the next big engagement strategy. Aligned with gamification it’s certainly got legs but let’s wait and see what depth and value it has in the long term. When we get to see VR and gamification courses linked to data and performance tracking utilising assessment standards that are flexible and agile enough to meaningfully track learner’s decision making in a simulated environment - then we’re cooking on gas! It won’t be long but let’s remember it ain’t always those who are first to market that succeed - watch this space!

L&D - Gaining Organisational Support

We must have had 100+ conversations about this. It’s clearly something that L&D professionals are dealing with each day. It was excellent to see so many people at our seminar "Maximising ROI and Gaining Organisational Support for L&D".

A view of our Seminar on ROI in L&D

I think we won the prize for the best attended seminar and it was great to get so many complements regarding the presentation, its content and purpose. When CDSM presents we try to offer valuable, objective guidance on strategic / structural digital L&D topics, so to receive the gratitude we did was fantastic. For those that missed it, our expert guide on this subject can be downloaded from our website. The expert guide covers many of the questions we received from visitors to our stand in a way that can’t be summarised in this blog. It really is a good investment of your time, and well worth a read.


Again, it was excellent to have so many informed conversations on project Tin Can and the xAPI standard. The industry has definitely caught up with this standard (signposted by the arrival of the ‘xAPI stop’ pinned to different stands) and what it means for learning organisations.

The xAPI enables L&D professionals to design specific statements that describe learning, learning outcomes and even performance outcomes. It enables the tracking of both formal and informal learning experiences. CDSM works with some of Europe’s leading automotive manufacturers and we look forward to designing a range of statements that will provide our clients with far richer data regarding how their personnel perform against their role-specific duties and objectives.

xAPI Graphic

With xAPI we’ve gained a set of human readable statements which paint a far richer picture of our learners and how, what and when they learn. We can capture collaborative learning, peer to peer review, event attendance, workshop performance, trainer interactions and all the informal learning that takes place naturally throughout the course of the working day. Data-driven performance is the key to improving quality and increasing margins.

Looking forward

More excitingly, we can harness the “Internet of Things” and interact with wearable technology, augmented and virtual reality - all things that thinqi - our learning platform - can do. Consider this in the context of tracking a learner’s pathway from new starter to a fully compliant, competent member of staff. Organisations are no longer limited to binary statements around course completion but can instead draw upon statements from other sources from productivity tools, social media tools and even industry specific tools to create a personalised picture of the learning journey.

A bow to LT17

Yet again, Learning Technologies didn’t fail to impress. The quality of the delegates was, as usual, second to none. Huge thanks to all those that visited our thinqi stand. We had so many insightful conversations! Looking forward to speaking with you all again soon.