It’s just over a week before Learning Technologies 2018. It’s been great to watch it grow as an event, and the digital learning industry grow with it. Hats off to Ian and the whole team for nurturing it, and the sector along with it.

It can be a daunting and tiring couple of days, whatever capacity you’re attending in. As veteran attendees both as clients and suppliers, here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years. We hope they can help make it a better show for you. 

1.  Have a plan

It’s a big show. Wandering the aisles to see what takes your fancy will get old very quickly and your feet will not thank you. Have a look at the Floor plan and the exhibitor list. Decide who you want to really see. Make a list based on where they’re based in relation to each other. Less pinballing around the place. Better use of your time.

2. Bring your challenges

Suppliers are there to help you. They may just want to talk about how they’re great. That’s ok. But you should be driving the discussion. Ask them questions. Tell them what you want to achieve this year – what you want to start doing, stop doing, do better in digital learning. Bring a draft project brief. Ask them how they’d approach it. Get some free consultancy while you’re at it.

3. Ask for demos

We in digital learning may not be in show business, but we’re certainly in the show-me business. Ask exhibitors to show you their best stuff. Be specific, e.g. show me the best thing you’ve done in compliance. Show me an example of how you’re implementing social learning or content curation. Your time is precious, cut to the chase as quickly as you can. Can’t show you anything? Move right along.

4. Make appointments

You really want to see some suppliers? Contact them, ask for a meeting. Tell them who you want to see and what you want to talk about. They’ll be ready, you’ll get more out of your time at the show. Some will already have a booking option to make appointments. Like for example this one. Bonus: a place to sit down. Some will have rooms booked for meetings, so you can get away from the hubbub.

5. Ask what’s new

If you’re not sure what to ask, and you’re not coming with a specific learning technology challenge or initiative in mind, ask them what’s new. What have they done over the last 12 months that’s fresh, different, innovative. Especially relevant if (like us) you’ve been around the block a bit. This year there’s a lot of people talking microlearning, learner engagement / experience platforms, AI and chatbots, content curation, VR/AR…yes, many of those were on the agenda last year too. What’s really changed? That’s what you want to find out. (Ask us if you want an independent view).

6. Take breaks, get outside

It’s a long couple of days. Queues for food and coffee are longer still. You’re better off wandering out for your break. I’ve had quite a few meetings at the Costa or in the foyer of the Hilton both on Kensington High Street. You could combine this with your supplier meetings. They’re buying, of course. And while you’re out there – drop into the Lumesse Learning Lounge at the Design Museum. They’ve been doing some great work for Jam Pan clients – meet them and some other great speakers.

7. Take in a seminar or 10…

You may be fortunate enough to have a conference pass and there are many great speakers upstairs. Don’t overlook the exhibition too – both to meet suppliers, but also to sit in on the seminars. Personal bias but I prefer ones where there’s a client presenting a case study or example of what they’ve achieved or ones that share real data.

Here are a few that we’d recommend, the full list is here:

Day 1: Jan 31st

Learning firsts: 3 award-winning case studies to inspire a new direction
11:45-12:15, Theatre 7

Not one but 3 case studies from the great team at HT2 labs. They’ll talk through how they’ve driven change at Astra Zeneca, Villeroy & Bosch and Action Against Hunger, through their Curatr and Red Panda platforms (which has a nice Anders Pink integration to boot). Talk fast Ben…

 

Going undercover – exploring the secrets of lasting learner engagement
16:15-16:45, Theatre 2
Towards Maturity do great research every year to analyse what’s actually working for learners and their organisations. Will be interesting to hear what they’ve found from analysing 40,000 workers, and what’s worked – or not – to engage them.

 

Automation, high-impact learning and the digital future: The Philips Story
11:45-12:15, Theatre 4

Like we said, we like case studies. This looks like it’ll be an interesting one to hear what Philips has done around AI and automation in their learning offer.

 

How Old Mutual Wealth transformed its digital learning by tapping into the talent and gig economy
14:45-15:15 Theatre 6

It’d be remiss of us (and a bit weird) if we didn’t mention this one: Jam Pan client Ennis Reid has a great story to tell. Old Mutual Wealth has transformed its digital learning model by enabling on demand, self service access to the talent economy. He may break into song. You don’t want to miss that.

 

LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 workplace learning report, unveiled
14:00-14:30 Theatre 7

Another data-driven one, this time from LinkedIn Learning (you remember, used to be Lynda). Will be interesting to hear what they’ve gleaned from surveying 2,000 professionals on how they prefer to learn. Please let the answer not be all through LinkedIn…

 

The changing skill set of the learning professional
16:15-16:15 Theatre 5

Lars Hyland and Clive Shepherd have been in this game a long time (and recently Clive’s been helping Jam Pan clients with his consultancy skills). They’re talking a key topic, close to our hearts: how the skills in this industry are changing, and what you need to do about it.

 

Day 2 Feb 1st:

 

Insights into the modern learning experience with Barclays and Kineo
11:45-12:15 Theatre 4

We know firsthand of the great work Barclays and Kineo have done to change learning in Barclays. Rory and Gary will take you through it and show the results.

 

Restoring the roar in Sky – behaviour change with a 37,000% ROI
13:15-13:45 Theatre 3

Sounds like Sky have achieved something pretty incredible in their behaviour change programme. We’re going along just to find out how they calculated that figure…

The Truth About Digital Learning
12:40 – 13:20 Conference Room 2

Which technologies are really working in L&D and which are just hype or wishful thinking? The team at Fosway will cut through the hype and share new data from the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research. Expect a much needed dose of disruption.

Chatbots – why, where and how they’ll transform your learning journey
14:45-15:15 Theatre 4

The ever interesting and quite chatty Donald Clark and Paul McElveny of Learning Pool are going to talk about the role of chatbots in learning. Sources suggest they’ll be showing something cool here.

8. Follow the Twitter account and hashtag

If a great session is starting, an amazing demo is going down, or a 3 way supplier fight breaks out, you’ll hear about it first on the LTUK18 Twitter account, or on the #LTUK18 hashtag. Stay tuned to both, and share what you’re learning and getting from the event. Kate Graham will personally tweet at you and possibly for you if you’re nice to her.

9. Make connections and build on the show

Learning Technologies show is great for meeting people. But it’s easy to drift back into business as usual after it. See it as the start of something. Whether you connect on LinkedIn, Twitter or (wait for it) email, decide who’s worth taking things forward with and plan to follow up. The suppliers will all email you afterwards anyway, so you’ll need to remember who was worth building a relationship with and what’s the next step. Brief your colleagues, write a blog or do a vlog on your LT reflections – work out loud and help it improve.

10. Play a game

We talk a lot about gamification in this business. So why not play some games to keep yourself entertained if things start to flag a bit? Of course we feel you should treat the event with the utmost respect, but we’ve heard some good suggestions down the years:

  • Buzzword Bingo: You can make your own list from everything above and see who fills their card in the opening session. Gamification of course is worth 2 points.
  • Costume shaming: Some people like to dress up. You know, like it was a Trekkie convention. It isn’t. Feel free to tell them. The more fun the outfit idea from marketing, the more the sales team are quietly dying inside.
  • Supplier stand that looks most like a Bond villains lair: If you feel genuinely scared to enter, you know it’s on the shortlist.
  • Candy dash: Gather as much novelty confectionary as you can while shamelessly saying “I will definitely come back to your stand once I’ve eaten this”. Bonus points if you eat it all before lunch. Double points if you eat it for lunch.

And remember – if it all gets too much, come and camp out at the Jam Pan Stand at L6. Charge your physical and phone batteries, rest your legs, let the digital learning marketplace come to you. No costumes. No buzzwords. No villains. (and no candy – your dentist told us not to).

See you there!