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October 26, 2018

Modern Learning for the Enterprise: Observations from Allego at DevLearn

Jake Miller, Product Marketing Manager at Allego, and Alex Salop, Allego’s Director of Product Marketing, just returned from the 2018 DevLearn conference in Las Vegas.  We thought it would be a great idea for them to share some back-and-forth observations during the show via email, and here is the result:

Alex:  Hi Jake!  I look forward to sharing my ideas, observations, and questions from DevLearn this year.  For the uninitiated, DevLearn is an annual conference for L&D (learning and development) professionals, sponsored by the eLearning Guild.  In the interest of full disclosure, my flight was delayed and I didn’t arrive in Las Vegas until the wee hours of the morning, but this is Las Vegas, where it’s always time to have fun!

Here are a few of my initial observations:

  • Based on my initial conversations with conference attendees, it’s pretty obvious that meeting the modern learning needs of users across the organization is very similar to the challenges Allego has seen coming from Sales.  In a nutshell, learning professionals know that traditional training approaches are overdue for an update.
  • Having said that, it’s also pretty clear that learning organizations are struggling to deliver new learning modalities that people do want.
  • And of course, content is king, like it always is.  Companies have too much, too little, or they just don’t think it’s very good.

Well, it’s off to bed for me.  Let’s see if I can overcome this jet lag!

Go Red Sox!

Jake:

Hi Alex—great conference so far.   I’m really happy that Andre and I drew a nice crowd for our modern learning presentation earlier today. It was great to see how excited people got when we showed some of Allego’s content creation capabilities. Content is certainly a big focus: a ton of my conversations have been with learning content creators, and they’re definitely concerned about quantity and quality.  Yup, content is king (and maybe even a tyrannical one, at that!).

Here are some of the themes I’ve observed:

  • There’s lots of interest in innovation for sales enablement/sales training.  I’ve had several conversations about how our customers have implemented organization-wide learning, which coincides with a trend we’ve seen over the last year-and-a-half.
  • Learner engagement is a primary concern for training professionals. People are hungry for ideas about how to drive more of it. In fact, many of the vendors exhibiting at the show focus their solutions on improving learner engagement.
  • Brain science is a big topic here too.  People want evidence that learning approaches deliver results, and pay attention when neuroscience experts—several of whom are presenting at the conference—have something to say.

So all in all, it seems like content creation, learner engagement, and retention are three of the top themes here.

Alex:

Thanks, Jake!  That makes a lot of sense.

One area that seems to be getting a lot of attention at the show is micro-learning, which plays into the content, brain science, and engagement narratives.  I have my own opinions about why this is so popular now, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts first. Why the emphasis on micro-learning?

Jake:

That’s an interesting question. I think micro-learning is sort of the “base material” for all things modern when it comes to learning. All of the big trends in modernizing corporate learning rely on micro-learning as a delivery mechanism.  Whether it’s personalization, continuous learning, AI-based reinforcement, social learning, etc., it all depends on content and experiences that are short and to the point. And I think people recognize that micro-learning drives better engagement, too, because it’s less overwhelming than hours-long learning sessions. What do you think?

Alex:

For one thing, I think micro-learning is a really good marketing term. On the other hand, what would you expect a product marketing guy to think? 

On a more serious note, I think it has tremendous potential.  The challenge, though, is that it’s only one part of the entire modern learning continuum. It’s not just about providing small bite-size pieces of learning over time, but also using different modalities, blended together, to drive increased engagement in the results. Many vendors here have partial solutions, but not many enable the ability to combine and manage modern learning modalities to drive better retention and use of learning concepts.  

One pervasive problem we both already talked about is content.  Do you think that micro-learning solves the content problem? I mean, if you don’t need long-form content created by learning experts, is it suddenly easy to create content?

Jake:

I don’t think micro-learning alone solves the content problem. Actually, it introduces a new set of challenges because it’s often harder to boil things down to a two- or three-minute video than it is to “throw in the kitchen sink” for an hour. But the key thing about micro-learning done right is that it opens up content creation to a much wider group of authors—not just instructional designers, for example—because SMEs managers, leaders, and even peers can now create valuable training content.

In some ways, the content problem shifts from one of creation to one of curation and management. Now L&D must worry about curating and managing all the learning content that’s coming into their system, and ensure the right content gets served up to the right people based on individual needs.

So no, I don’t think micro-learning alone solves the content problem, but with tools that can manage micro-learning content effectively it certainly reduces it.

Alex:

Yes, you’re right there.  I’ve actually seen a few vendors here that offer short-form content creation, others that offer mobile quiz solutions, and then some that incorporate gamification–but not a lot that have a platform for both delivering the content and the management capabilities to deliver a modern learning solution that works on an organizational level.  It’s great to see how far ahead of the curve Allego is in this regard, and how the market is making it clear that the needs Allego addresses are felt not just in sales, but across organizations and disciplines.

Thanks for this back-and-forth, Jake.  I hope you had a great show!

Jake:

I did. I hope you did as well!

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