As the organisers of Learning Technologies Conference announce the Summer Forum, my thoughts drifted back to the February event. The Summer Forum is the place to see how far we have come since the thoughts of the winter event. Last year’s Summer Forum was stand out excellent. The tone of the event was set clearly by Deborah Francis-White to be play, discussion, collaboration and fun. It was the best keynote I have ever seen. Ever. I loved that she was the keynote speaker at a technology conference and she never even used any tech; in fact she encouraged the audience to use paper and pencil. So when invited to cover the back channel at the February event, I was keen to see who Donald Taylor and team would be introducing as keynote. How could they come anywhere near Deborah? The team did well with Marshall Goldsmith and Ben Hammersley. I was particularly encouraged by the futurist Ben. The room divided into the woo-hoos to oh-nos as he laid out our potential future. The energy was palpable as people split into celebrating and looking forward to likes of the Tesla intelligent car and the Amazon Echo, and those fearing a Big Brother future. For the record, I cannot wait for the AI of Echo, fondly known as Alexa, to recognise I’m out of milk and add it to my shopping list. And the most amazing part in all this is that future is already here!

 

In amongst all the futurist hype and tech, my lasting memory of #LT16uk is clearly the movement shown in the audience. As a conference delegate for several years, I normally watch an audience agog at the sessions with presenters talking of social learning tools, learning experience systems, and the adoption of performance support tools. However this year was VERY different. The presenters were not telling new stories. There were no really amazing new tech discoveries. There were no new models or theories. Yet this year, for the first time in my experience, there were no astonished faces. The audience showed themselves to be more savvy. In the sessions I was in the audience offered challenges and intelligent questions. They talked about how they had implemented social learning platforms and were struggling to get traction. They talked about how they had been successful using modern learning management systems incorporating social and experiential learning. They asked for practical solutions to the theorists speaking about what they should be doing. I was really buoyed to see that L&D as a profession seems to be catching up on realising tech is only a tool and it can only be part of the answer for putting a modern learning architecture in place. Finally. Of course, with my practical focus on L&D perhaps I was just overly sensitive to hearing the practical, however I can honestly say it is the first time I have heard those types of questions from the audiences. Exciting times ahead I think!

 

As we head into the Summer Forum, I look forward to a really productive practical conversation on ‘How to Do’ this modern learning stuff. Can’t wait! I’m almost as excited as I am to get Alexa round to my place.

For more information on Learning Technologies Summer Forum 16th June 2016, click here: http://www.learningtechnologies.co.uk/content/learning-technologies-summer-forum/11/

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