Connection Blog

2016 ATD Conference summary: Initial observations

Posted by Janay Robinson  6/8/2016   1 Comments


The following article was written by Tom Merritt, Principal at Latitude CG:

Latitude was in attendance at the 2016 Association for Talent Development (ATD) conference in beautiful downtown Denver. I'm excited to share a little bit about what I learned from the sessions I attended to provide some insight into what's going on in the Training Industry.

Initial Observations
The conference was very well attended this year; with over 10,000 individual registrations. Those attending included professionals throughout the world that identified themselves as being a part of the training industry community.

Buzzwords, Observations and Trends
First, some buzzwords flying around that are referenced constantly; some new, some trendy, some outdated...

  • Microlearning: An approach to formal training that encapsulates a very defined set of information to be learned in less than 5-10 minutes.

    Some companies feel that the next generation of employees (Millenials and Generation X'ers) have trouble focusing their attention on training content that is longer than a few minutes. In order to overcome this challenge the organization creates a short video, asks a couple questions related to the video after viewing, and then performs an analysis to track that at least this little bit of knowledge has been transferred to the employee. This concept also applies to busy managers who can only learn bits and pieces at a time due to demands on the job. Some feel it is the next big thing; but it would take dozens of "courses" to really teach anyone something significant.

  • 70-20-10: A term referring to the results of a long-term study of management in the 1980's, which is coming back into use. The study focused on how effective managers learned their jobs and assimilated new knowledge/skills. It found that 70% of the knowledge gained was through job experience, 20% was through informal information sharing, and only 10% was formal, written training.

    Its conclusions are being questioned somewhat as most new information is obtained through the Internet - a combination of open searches (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and social networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and the emergent of better tools for query-able knowledge portals significantly redefine what used to be considered "formal training".

  • Leadership: Most sessions in the conference are concerned with leadership training and what approaches/content make a significant difference for the management of executive teams of a company.

  • Flipped Training: A form of training where the individual being trained does primary information gathering on their own in order to gain an understanding of concepts and data outside of the classroom. The organization offering the training then brings those individuals into a classroom environment to apply what they gathered. The information gathering process can contain media content such as: video, e-learning, reading, assessments, etc.

  • Kirkpatrick Levels 1-4: A model for evaluating training program effectiveness by University of Wisconsin professor Donald Kirkpatrick, former President of the American Society for Training and Development (what we know now as ATD). These are concepts, not rigid models of measurement. Originally developed decades ago, they became part of his most famous work in the 1990's, and are still cited quite often to this day.
  • Level 1: Reaction - Evaluates how employees/students reacted to the training.
  • Level 2: Learned - A measurement of how much/what was actually learned (as opposed to taught).
  • Level 3: Behavior - An evaluation of how behavior has changed.
  • Level 4: Results - How did the training change the individual's, or organization's, performance?

  • Role of Women: It is clear that women dominate in this industry. They are doing most of the presentations, they constitute most of the consultants, and they are in the roles of authority (Chief Learning Officer, Director of Training, etc.). Any company wanting to do well in this industry must be aware of this predominance and use it to their advantage in their efforts to reach their target consumers and serve them well.

  • xAPI: The "next generation" SCORM standard, also known as the "Experience API" or "Tin Can". This technology probably holds a lot of promise still, but it is noticeably absent from all the sessions being held at ATD.

I must say, ATD does a great job of packing their conferences with great seminars and speakers. I've been to a few, and everytime I manage to increase my knowledge of the industry and make great connections. Stay tuned throughout the month of June as I will be blogging each week about my amazing 4-day experience, and bringing you great content on the state of the training and development industry.

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