Three themes at Learning Technologies 2012

This year’s Learning Technologies event was a bit different from previous years for me. In the past, working for a supplier, I’ve spent most of my time on the exhibition floor – although I gained something new from the experience each year. This year, though, I was able to really experience the conference as a delegate and a track chair.

Don Taylor and the team pulled off a bit of a coup with three impressive keynote speakers, along with a varied programme of topics and presenters. I’ve got pages of notes I want to look back over to help consolidate my takeaways and follow-up actions, but as I reflect on the two days there are three overarching themes that stick out for me.

  • Creativity and innovation don’t just happen – they require a conscious effort and a willingness to challenge the status quo. We as L&D professionals have a responsibility to question, rather than accept, the way things have been done before and find ways to generate and drive forwards new ideas.
  • We mustn’t lose sight of who we are designing learning solutions for – the users. It’s all too easy to give in to business requests for ‘click Next to continue’ e-learning or to allow dense, dry subject matter to become an excuse for ‘crapathy’. Keeping the end users front and centre in mind helps to deliver engaging, effective learning.
  • Sometimes, a back-to-basics approach is the right one. Edward de Bono held a full auditorium in the palm of his hand armed only with an armchair, OHP and pack of coloured pens – demonstrating that, in a world of flashy gadgets and ever-changing technology, less can indeed be more.

There is no shortage of blogs and articles out there already reflecting on Learning Technologies 2012 (and I’ll be adding more of my own over the next few days and weeks). I’d recommend following Kate Graham, the event’s official rapporteur, to make sure you don’t miss the best of the bunch.

I’m interested to know whether the three themes that stuck out for me were the same for other people – do we all take away different messages from these events depending on our roles, interests and pre-existing ideas, or are there a few broad themes that defined the conference for all attendees?


7 thoughts on “Three themes at Learning Technologies 2012

  1. Niall Gavin (@niallgavinuk)

    Three very good and well-observed points Stephanie. There were a couple more for me, which I’ll reserve for my own blog – if I ever get time to do it. I like your approach of doing a ‘quickie’ now and sharing your reflections in more depth later. Think I might just try that approach myself tomorrow…!

    1. Stephanie Dedhar Post author

      Thanks for your comment Niall. I resolved towards the end of last year to share more of my personal learning, and recognised that I often fell into the trap of waiting till I’d consolidated all my thinking before sharing anything. Unfortunately that usually resulted in other things creeping to the top of the pile and me not actually sharing anything. This way, if I just jot down some initial thoughts fairly quickly one evening, at least I’ve shared something even if it takes me an age to get round to the rest!

  2. John Curran


    I spent most of my time on the exhibition floor – always exhausting if you normally sit in front of a PC! Clearly the impression from the show is going to be different from the conference with more focus on ‘walking’ rather than ‘running’ but your point about not giving into the ‘same old stuff’ when we know there are lots of really innovative approaches out there is a good one.

    Have just completed my blog plus a ‘walkthrough’ video but my WordPress site is down due to plug-in conflicts so will hopefully upload tomorrow.


    1. Stephanie Dedhar Post author

      Hi John, thanks for commenting. I’d be really interested to know whether people felt the gap between the conference and the exhibition was bridged at all by some of the changes this year – for example, the eXchange discussions that brought conference speakers downstairs, and the keynote presentations being filmed and then shown in the exhibition seminar areas.

  3. John Curran

    I don’t think that the filmed keynotes drew large crowds on the exhibition floor, which is a pity because it’s a good idea. Guess it felt a bit impersonal not actually being in the room.

  4. Peter van der Reijden

    Hi Stephanie,
    Just found out about your blog, looks good so far!
    As far as this blogpost is concerned: sharp observation of these ‘actionable’ takeaways. Overall, I was kind of disappointed of the level of the exhibitors mainly. Lots of old wine in new bottles if you ask me.
    I wrote about the five trends we noticed on our blog:, although more on a theme-level.

    Thanks for the post!



    1. Stephanie Dedhar Post author

      Hi Peter, thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the exhibition this year, but am looking forward to reading what other people thought of it as more and more blog posts pop up! I’ll definitely take a look at yours, thanks for the link.


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