Key trends from Learning Technologies 2014
Looking objectively I sensed that some companies were more focused on their latest product initiatives rather than focusing on customer demands.
Overall feedback from providers was that their customers or potential customers were looking at three key trends:
- Incorporating the use of video, OTS, bespoke and self-made
- Easy to create content – either completely bespoke or ability to tailor existing content
- Offering flexibility in how learning is accessed (mobile, online and offline)
Those surveyed post the Learning Technologies event said the companies that were ‘Ones to watch!’ were predominately creators of bespoke eLearning, including those who used video and allowed OTS content to be tailored.
LMS customers want a one-stop platform that does everything including capturing and tracking learning online, offline and on-the-go as well as having social learning capabilities and ways of sharing knowledge.
A consistent theme was how platform providers can increase utilisation of courses and content by engaging users on different devices – mobile, tablet, desktop – and through different approaches – learning journeys, bitesized chucks, social learning and knowledge sharing.
Higher engagement helps make the learning less push and more pull creating higher completion rates.
From a creation perspective many Learning Technologies attendees wanted the ability to ‘create their own’ content, so the companies they were looking for at the event included an authoring tool provider and companies who had a focus on learning technologies, innovation in learning and multi device learning with capabilities for customers to create content.
Another key trend was the increased use of mobile and tablet. Within this trend customers identified that design and content is crucial. Areas of focus were:
- Is the design tailored for the device? How it looks – basic images vs interactive images and actual visual appeal being important. Also is the content designed for the device?
- Is the content suitable? Can it be easily accessed, is it easy to understand, is it only the content that needs to be seen by the user (possibly in chunks) or microlearning?
Video content on display at the event was a mix of OTS and bespoke. According to the companies at Learning Technologies the demand was greatest for bespoke videos. Popular content included explainer videos, tutorials and situational sketches. Available formats included cartoon/ sketches/ talking heads/ TV personalities however strong scripts must be in place to make sure learning is not lost with the entertainment factor.
The number of LMS providers present was high, with lots of slick stands and marketing materials including fortune cookies telling us we will have a pleasant surprise with multi-device learning.
The companies with stands were keen to highlight new ‘looks’ with appealing graphics and interfaces but were shy about showing content and courses.
A few LMS companies noted the key to a successful LMS is easy navigation and searching, one reason provided for this was the increase in digital native users who have expectations far beyond Gen Y users when it comes to platforms. They have grown up using technology and expecting it to work for them, not the other way around.
When comparing Unicorn’s offer to other suppliers, no-one at the conference seemed to be providing anything that is completely new or different. My feedback is that if Unicorn had shown our eLearning offering and SkillsServe at the conference, we would have really stood out.