After a break of nearly 27 months the Learning Tech exhibition in London kicked off yesterday and at the end of the day I reflected on the event so far.
Firstly lets start with the positives:
Attendance seemed high – lots of buzz, noise and energy
It was great to meet people we have worked with, supported, partnered and had as guests on the podcast in real life – it can be surprising to see how tall people are when you have only seen them on screen before
Meeting new people and hearing about was they are focussed on always helps me learn and gives me new perspectives
There was a greater focus on coaching solutions, human connection and pathways
There were also some things which were less good;
Overall the event feels stale – so much has changed in the past two years, but learning tech has not – the format is the same, the speakers and exhibitors are largely the same or similar, the “in crowd” still keep it as was – in my view there was a great opportunity to reinvent and that has probably now been missed
There are still people talking about the “Netflix of learning” or Netflix “experience”!!! For those of you who have seen you Pulp Fiction “I dare you, I double dare you say Netflix again”
Where in the innovation, maybe my expectations are too high but many of the big launches don’t feel like big launches – much of the tech is still solving problems created by previous iterations of learning tech rather than real problems impacting business or employees
We are paying lip service to big issues, diversity “it feels very pale and stale”, sustainability a few token gestures but where is the innovation and creativity, where is the role-modelling
There are some interesting ideas bubbling under the surface – ideas such as using block chain for learning records and qualifications. There are potentially some big ground breaking changes we could make which would help with social mobility, progression and the efficiency and effectiveness of learning teams and the way we learn. I fear that as these challenge the commercial status quo these will struggle to gain traction as quickly as they should. (I will be revisiting this and other issues in our upcoming series of articles – “What next for learning”)
So after a nights rest I am back for day two, looking forward to helping more people see the wood for the trees and looking for more nuggets of hope amidst the jazz hands and gimmicky marketing stunts.