Learning Technologies 2018

Here David Patterson looks ahead at the Learning Technologies 2018 event in London, with thoughts on recent trends likely to be discussed and some of the top companies that will be worth checking out.


 
I guess I have been going to Learning Technologies since 2006, and this will be the last year at Kensington Olympia before following BETT over to the Excel in Docklands. Excel is a much better set up and a move there is long overdue in my view.

However, what I am pleased to report is, Learning Technologies (LTs) is retaining its learning focus while in my view BETT is losing its focus on Education and becoming more about technology and frankly any old technology is included to sell space.

 

Edtech arrivals

Maybe this is why we are seeing the arrival at LTs of many of the education orientated vendors who typically exhibited at BETT (though Microsoft and Google are yet to arrive at LTs). By this I mean Moodle in their own right, D2L, Instructure (will be pushing Bridge LMS I guess, not Canvas) Blackboard, Coursera and I predict several more to come as the edtech market struggles and the corporate learning technologies market continues to prosper. However, we in the corporate world can learn a lot from edtech and therefore should be pleased at the additional choice on offer in 2018.

 

Internationalisation of LTs

The internationalisation of LTs continues to impress and many vendors from the EU are making their debut here. I am keen to see aNewspring (a nice, well thought through learning platform), UpTake (VR), BlueBottleBiz, and Bookboon (learning libraries) Gamelearn (guess what they do) all debutantes I think along with other European vendors such as LearnUpon (very successful LMS in the training industry), Netex (very powerful Learning architecture ), Training Orchestra (a Training Resource Management System… take a look on Stand D5 – it’s neat), eXact (an evolved LCMS) and Docebo (hugely successful, feature-rich LMS vendor) who have exhibited at LTs consistently for several years and keep coming back for more – and all appear to doing well.

I believe this interest in the UK market indicates we have plenty of growth left in the UK yet.

The UK’s big players will no doubt continue to impress – that is Kallidus – a very good platform indeed, Kineo – the master content builders, Leo – really top draw company, Learning Pool making waves with Adapt Builder in particular, Virtual College with the Enable LMS – a market leader in UI/UX, Agylia – a very good LMS, Sponge – fast growing and successful customer focused company, and eCom Scotland for a super suite of learning solutions. All will be worth calling by for excellent case studies and all round insight from these top-notch, full service vendors. These guys can pretty much do everything you need.

I am keen to get the measure of LinkedIn Learning and Degreed as they continue to energise the market in the USA.

 

Innovation

However, innovation excitement and looking for the new is really the fun part and I recommend calling by to see elearningWMB who put the fun in learning, VR Studios for yes… VR, Fuse for innovation and flexibility, Filtered for adaptive learning and AI, Guykat (debutant I think) for cool content creativity, HT2 for really smart ideas, Appitier for some good old new disruption, and Nimble – who always impress me for their community approach. Xyleme is another innovative vendor I have tracked for some years and if you are looking for LCMS and how to deal with volatile content, give them a visit.

 

If it is off the shelf courses you are looking for:

I do recommend the new library from Skillsoft – hugely impressive with short, high quality video. I like their audio-based materials as well. CrossKnowledge has some good materials that really engage. Video Arts continue to be an all-round excellent provider, as does the highly regarded Unicorn Training, and the materials from Safety Media are top notch. I am also very taken with the Engage in Learning library… excellent in its design. Virtual College, Kineo and Learning Pool all have excellent libraries of elearning courses as well.

The authoring market looks as competitive as ever, gomo is good (and it is always a delight to watch the master in Mike Alcock make learning creation so cool and smooth), eNetauthor is a nice tool as well from eCom that is worth investigating. No Elucidat… surprise because it is good… but Adapt Builder from Learning Pool is worth looking at (nice approach to learning creation beyond the page turner) and Appitierre with the Evolve tool is worth seeking out as it gets good feedback. The usual suspects will also be there in force making this segment of the market particularly competitive.

 

LMS

There will be endless LMS on offer, finding one that meets your needs takes time and patience to ensure you choose the right one (I advise some detailed research and work on what you require in the context of your learners, before you mistakenly buy a set features and not a solution).  Craig Weiss will no doubt be sharing his views on this market live from LTs, but there is still huge demand for these products, and while vendors seek to differentiate with alternate terms and others claim to foresee the demise of the LMS, I don’t – I just see further evolution and perhaps a bit of revolution coming down the line with analytics and AI making the learning platform an indispensable part of the corporate tech stack.

 

Bespoke content build

Another very crowded segment indeed, with numerous vendors offering their skills. Having elearning (or as we are calling it now Digital Learning or Immersive Learning) bespoke built is never cheap. I know it sounds hugely expensive, especially when it all seems so simple, but believe me, it takes time and is often far more complex than it initially looks. Take a little time to reflect on learning design and really ask about engagement – these are the things you are paying for and my advice is to leverage the wonderful skills that these companies have – after all they have done many many courses for clients and will know what works……… so listen to their ideas.

And most of all – enjoy the event – it should be a lot of fun!