Learning Tech Summer Forum 2016

Learning Tech Summer Forum


I attended the morning of this year’s summer forum, making my way around the exhibition and attending a few of the freebie sessions.

It’s always an interesting exhibition space, containing a number of big players (Kineo, Brightwave, Cornerstone, etc.) squeezed into smaller stands and a few of the smaller players from the main winter event too. Quite how firms decide to be here or not doesn’t always seem particularly obvious but there’s certainly a less manic feel than the ‘big’ event.


Anyway, my takeaway feeling was that we’ve perhaps, finally, broken the paradigm that has dominated the online learning environment. Whilst the LMS is not dead, as mandatory reporting and off-the-shelf mandatory content were still out in force, what was more obvious was that the web is finally changing what people think of as a learning department’s responsibilities.

Whilst my rather short review of the winter show was that organisations were still moving too slowly, I’d say this show (or at least the parts I attended) made me feel that, at last…

Corporate learning is moving to the web and the corporate web is moving towards learning.

If the LMS was born to track the delivery of existing content (session scheduling, reading material, online versions of what was effectively CD-ROM-esque Flash material, etc.) then we are starting to see ecosystems where learning is more embedded throughout an organisation thanks to the technology. This is less technology enhanced/enabled learning and more performance supported by technology. This is largely down to the combinations of HTML5, TinCan/Xperience API and other technology that means there is less need for a controlled ‘management system’ whilst maintaining elements of the management through reporting.

The presentation from gomo (http://www.gomolearning.com/) was focused on the ‘future of offline learning’ and really amounted to an update on their product. Gomo has been impressive for a while but the new additions are native iOS and Android apps for running content offline. This in itself is an interesting ‘development’, effectively the industry recognising the challenges that come from needing consistent Internet connectivity. Of course some LMS systems have had their own solutions for this, for example I remember NetDimensions presenting on their offline access a while back. As Microsoft discovered with the Xbox One – you may have a user trying to access on a submarine and it’s interesting that if you publish out of the Gomo infrastructure to your LMS you then lose the opportunity to download and run offline using the ‘Gomo Central’ apps. Whilst things change the option still seems to be go “all in” on one solution or another.

With the acquisition of Rustici, into the parent Learning Technologies Group, you suspect gomo are going to be able to really drive the way forward with combining the Xperience API and their ecosystem of collaborative authoring and publishing, adaptively, once to all platforms. The most interesting piece for many orgs, I’d suspect, is the micro file option for LMS – where content runs like SCORM but always picks up latest version of content from Gomo.

Now the collaborative and HTML5 web page style output of Gomo is where the tool gets even more interesting, effectively it could become THE authoring tool for an organisation. Just as Xyleme has promised for some time, you could have a single source of truth for all content. With Xyleme this includes publishing to PPT, PDF, etc. with Gomo we are perhaps recognising that all corporate learning could be delivered via HTML5 pages and that all corporate content and web communications could be delivered via the simple authoring tool. Indeed the presentation included examples of taking Gomo content for your public facing .com website. This is where I feel the platform is now the web, and your organisation could work almost entirely in this ecosystem, even if it was just originally designed for learning. Similarly Learning Pool’s version of Adapt is being adopted for easy-to-build HTML5 content beyond learning departments. In many ways the LMS offered the educational organisation a way to move online (a ‘course’ to web model) the new HTML5 based tools are allowing the corporate world to move online (an individual/department to page model). Potentially this offers all staff in an organisation a way to build ‘nice looking’ (I’ll avoid ‘quality’) web content via WYSIWYG type interfaces in the way that blogging and other ‘web 2.0’ tools did for enthusiasts of those platforms.

Of course the challenge is in trying to get people to move away from the familiarity of Office tools and Office 365 and other products may well supersede anything that comes out of these learning industry players.

How suitable this is for you also comes back to where you are the evolution curve. When I attended the Adobe event last year it was similarly clear you could use tools originally purposed for web designers and marketers but now easily useable for corporate workers and learning professionals. A little like with Apple vs Microsoft vs Google, it feels like organisations are increasingly adopting a route to digital transformation and running with it.


Simpleshow’s presentation made the point that ‘explainer’ videos can achieve a lot. I like the Simpleshow concept, not least as they think in terms of ‘reducing’ online learning – a view I always approve of, i.e. reducing a world of content into something useful, rather than ‘producing’ yet another presentation, course or huge manual. The presentation effectively digged into a question akin to “if the word of the year can be a pictograph then why are corporations so tied to lengthy documents and spread sheets”? Hear, hear!!

Fosway (looking to get feedback on the industry to build out more of their independent reports: http://www.fosway.com/research/ ) were first up as you came out of Olympia’s crowded lifts. They now have gomo as the leading core challenger in the authoring tool market, sneaking into the Strategic Leader quadrant. I came away from the conference thinking they are the tool that makes a lot of sense, with Learning Pool’s Adapt tool a simpler, leaner, solution (including a new freemium option I have expressed an interest in).

The Cornerstone session I attended (Love Learning Love Sharing) picking up the idea of the talent system supplying the social and engagement (for the ‘New Work Environment’) around the content. This includes exposing people’s capabilities inhouse with profile type tools that many people are used to from Facebook, etc. Again this feels like a “which ecosystem are we going to buy into” type issue – made even more clear by Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn and undoubted ability to leverage such data into Office.

2017 information here: http://www.learningtechnologies.co.uk/learning-and-skills-group/

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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