ATD 2017: Trends & Take-Aways

By June 5, 2017Blog
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Last month, eThink traveled to Hotlanta for the ATD 2017 International Conference & Exposition, the largest event for talent development professionals worldwide. The convention center was packed with learning professionals and EdTech innovators focused on exploring the latest trends and technology, best practices, and new solutions in the industry. During the conference, our team pinpointed three growing trends in the corporate eLearning space…

The Potential of xAPI…

xAPI-powered technologies have opened a world of possibilities for the learning technologist that continue to transform the eLearning industry. At ATD 2017, presentations focused on xAPI and its potential while technologies boosting xAPI capabilities were seen around every corner. By powering learning with xAPI-enabled tools, learning professionals can leverage data from across platforms, improve training programs and performance outcomes, and positively impact the experience of team members and business processes.

Our take-away:

As xAPI technologies continue to come to the market, it’s important to be ready to take advantage of the benefits they can bring to your organization. By helping deliver educational materials at the time they are needed, at lower costs, and—most importantly—in a way that engages learners to better support outcomes, xAPI is sure to become a critical part of learning and development programs moving forward.

In addition to building your own xAPI-powered applications, there are now more out-of-the-box, commercial offerings available that allow you to do this in a more standardized fashion at a significantly lower price. Ensuring that every piece of your learning ecosystem has the ability for xAPI output is becoming increasingly important; thus, institutions need to take steps to ensure that they have this capability moving forward.

Learning Record Stores (LRS)

Although the LMS continues to be one of the main components of a learning ecosystem, organizations are increasingly using additional systems to develop a comprehensive learning strategy that covers in-person training, microlearning, formal eLearning, and more. The emergence of the Learning Record Store (LRS) as a central hub for all of these systems to report to is a direct response to the need of organizations to collect and measure learning data across these multiple systems. At ATD 2017, there were a handful of LRS companies in attendance focused on providing a complete solution to organize, store, and provide insights into the data found across an organization’s learning ecosystem.

Our take-away:

If your modern learning ecosystem includes – or will in the future include – additional pieces besides the LMS, a Learning Record Store powered by xAPI will provide a complete view of the learning experience within your organization and allow you to easily make informed decisions regarding learning programs. From our experience, we would highly recommend that organizations take a look at their LMS to ensure that it is configured for xAPI output, as we see with Moodle. If you are an organization that does not have an LMS with this functionality, you should begin considering alternatives that will allow you to take advantage of this capability moving forward.

With an xAPI LRS, whatever challenge you face, app or microlearning delivery tool you decide to adopt, or new compliance regulation you are required to meet, you can extend and connect your system in a modular way and send all the learning data from these systems back to your LRS.

Availability of Content and the Importance of a Good Content Strategy

With the multitude of companies in the market that focus primarily on providing valuable training content, there is now an abundance of great content to choose from. As we walked around the conference hall, we were impressed with the high percentage of content companies. There continues to be an explosion of extremely well-created content that organizations are only beginning to take advantage of. This content can save a tremendous amount of cost for organizations by not having to recreate your own content for training that is related to HR, soft skills, compliance, leadership, and additional resources that can enhance the skill set of your user base.

Our take-away:

Organizations have no shortage of valuable content to enhance their learning programs. However, with numerous options for content, it is important to look for content that can plug into an LMS using open standards, like Moodle. The way to do this is to look for content options like SCORM, LTI, or xAPI. Most of the major content providers offer their content in one of these formats. Additionally, institutions should be looking for content from multiple vendors and pulling that content into a central LMS as that will give them the ability to provide analytics and a best-of-breed content strategy.

Parting Thoughts…

Focusing on the learning ecosystem as a whole has become increasingly important. Organizations have begun to realize that the pieces of their ecosystem – the LMS, the content that goes within it, and the LRS – shouldn’t be viewed as separate puzzles, but rather pieces of the same puzzle that when connected form a complete picture. The focus in eLearning is now on how to best connect these pieces, whether via xAPI or LTI, to provide a seamless and engaging learning experience for users.

Learn more about the connection between the LRS, LMS, and xAPI here.

Understand the benefits of using xAPI and LRS to support your learning ecosystem.

eThink team at ATD 2017