Having just returned from presenting at the Training 2012 Conference, it’s a good time to reflect on the emerging trends for the year, using this major event as a litmus test for the industry. Hours spent walking the expo floor, talking to numerous delegates, listening to the keynotes and participating in many break out sessions, I’m left with the impression that our world has changed in the last year or two. My own observations would lead me to believe that we have shifted from being caught up in many futuristic technologies to the more pragmatic development and delivery of effective training.
Here’s my top 3 “What’s In and What’s Out” list.
#1 A Results Orientation
This top trend was not just apparent in the conversations regarding measurement and business impact, but there was also a prevailing theme of the importance of how we deliver training. There was a much stronger emphasis on the training method as being vital to achieving the desired impact upon the learner and the organization.
#2 Blended Learning
There is a continual and understandable focus on delivering training, or better still enabling training, in multiple and different ways. I was at the conference to deliver a session on best practices for live virtual training as part of the very extensive and well-attended conference stream on the live virtual classroom. Although I haven’t counted, I would estimate that at least 30% of all the breakout sessions focused on what we could call a non-traditional way of delivering training. There is clearly a plethora of ways to enable training other than putting people into a physical classroom and yet there is some sort of notable fear of change that leads people to cling to the tradition of the physical classroom setting where learners are held hostage for several days while information is fire-hosed at them. Seriously, is that the best we can do? Wake up and look around you, that isn’t the way we work, play or learn anymore! Let’s step up as learning leaders and focus on the new methods that translate into more effective ways in which to develop and deliver training experiences.
#3 Sales Training
It has been a few years since I saw the emphasis on training sales teams that there was at this event. A number of the breakout sessions were focused purely on training sales people. Connecting this observation with my #1 above, I also saw that just about every session or conversation on sales training revolved around how to deliver sales training that directly impacts sales results.
The focus we saw just a few years ago that would have led us to believe that the future of training would see us all immersed in virtual reality and learning through the use of an avatar has all but disappeared. Not to say I didn’t see some very effective ways in which to learn using the online word and simulation, but the total simulated “second life” style of learning seems to have lost its gloss. Perhaps this is a direct result of the undeniable trend of cost cutting. To create effective immersive virtual reality is anything but cheap.
#2 Technology for Technology’s Sake
No doubt many participants had iPads and various tablets with them, and many of the exhibitors may have been using these devices too, but the focus we saw a year ago on mobility and technology seems to have diminished. Once again, I would suggest that this is the result of tightening budgets and a focus on what we can do today to impact results. It is no longer about the technology itself–it’s about how we enable effective learning.
#3 Motivation Masquerading as Learning
For far too many years we have seen what I would call motivational events, games or speakers being used in the training landscape. While there is nothing wrong with a good motivational event to “pump up” the crowd, these can’t be mistaken for training that delivers new learning. Perhaps as a result of my #1 observation of What’s In, I see the focus moving away from motivation masquerading as learning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the motivational speaker at an event as much as anyone else, but as was noted at several times throughout the conference, enabling effective learning and delivering results does not come down to a motivational event.
As ever, I enjoyed the ability to mix and mingle with so many leaders in the world of training, and perhaps pick up on a few of the trends that will drive us and the industry during the course of 2012.