The day the music died,”  I love that song! It speaks to a common human shortcoming of failing to note the passing of things that may have been hugely influential in our lives. Did you morn the last time you saw a typewriter in use, a floppy disk whirring in an IBM or a crusty management team made up of only men (with no tattoos). Talent development just passed through a profound landmark, did you note the change?

At Learning Town in Orlando this year, the change was not just on the agenda, it was happening in real time, and it feels like we won’t be looking back anytime soon. The highlights:

  1. Bots for everything you can imagine. There were some fantastic demonstrations of training bots that can support a learner by answering their questions in real time. Not just rote answers, but deep learning, AI-driven intelligent responses to all kinds of queries. The possibilities are extraordinary for self-serve learning and discovery as and when needed. “How do I adjust the potentiometer on line 3?”
  2. VR was shoved unceremoniously into the corner. The demonstrations were banal, the value questionable and the price tag so high only the most well-heeled companies can afford to go there. We have all heard the horror stories about millions spent, months elapsed and the projects being shelved because that training is now outdated. It will be a while before things change, so hang out in the real world for a bit longer.
  3. Big Data and training.  Terabytes of information about how learners actually learn were on display. It was arguably some of the most exciting material. Big companies are generating rafts of data. Patterns are emerging; conclusions being drawn. We are all a bit scared of measuring what we do in a scientific sense, preferring the subjective approval of our learners, but Big Data can be fascinating. Armed with imperial numbers the training landscape makes far more sense.
  4. Modalities from science fiction hit the mainstream. Everything from Augmented Reality to IBM Watson on the case, measuring brain patterns during learning to the psychology of distraction.  Stuff we can use every day.
  5. Real training available on mobile devices. Content that was planned for the medium not squeezed onto it. You realize this opens up access to 95% of the population, anytime, anywhere?
  6. Much, much more – something for another time perhaps.

So, what died? What passed? Chalk!