5 Learning Trends to Watch at #ATD2016


Some learning trends end up changing the corporate learning world for good. Others turn out to be fads, here today and gone tomorrow. But no matter what their staying power might be, trends become popular for a reason. Either the trend is being put in practice in a meaningful way or the idea of the trend is closely tied to a common pain point.

The ATD International Conference (May 22-25 in Denver) promises to be a great way to learn about the latest learning trends and to check in on the trends that have been growing over the last several years. ATD is the largest conference dedicated to the corporate L&D space, so sorting through the list of sessions and exhibitors can be daunting. If you’re interested in learning about “the trends” at ATD ICE, consider this article your ATD Conference Survival Guide.

Here are five trends to watch for at the ATD conference, along with a suggested session at ATD ICE 2016 that covers the trend. The trends are listed in the order the sessions occur, so you can consider this your very own “Learning Technology Track” if you’d like!

1. Microlearning

Microlearning involves delivering learning experiences in small but meaningful chunks. Think short, targeted bursts of learning instead of lengthy lectures or courses. Microlearning is either available on-demand or pushed to learners in regular intervals.

Plenty of vendors will tell you that microlearning is all about millennials, although research fails to back that up. Microlearning is really being driven by a shift in media consumption habits that impacts all generations. And while it is a highly useful learning method, let us be the first to offer a word of caution.

Recommended Session:

Tech Tapas: Plating Your Microlearning
Presented by Jacqueline Glass, Zeiders Enterprises
Sunday, 5/22  11:45 am – 1 pm
Session Link

2. Games and Gamification

Ah yes, our favorite trend. We’ve been supporting the use of games and gamification for learning for almost 10 years now. This trend is more mature than the others: Gartner says it is finally headed to the mainstream.

Game-based learning means that learning happens through, you guessed it, a game with a defined game goal and learning goal. Sometimes, a learning game is called a serious game. Gamification is the application of game mechanics and game elements to non-game activities. Whichever side of the coin you are interested in, you can learn more about it at ATD ICE.

Recommended Session:

Play to Learn: Playing Games to Learn How to Design Games 
Presented by Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance
Monday, 5/23  4:30 – 5:30 pm
Session Link

This session occurs at the same time as our suggested adaptive learning session, so pick your favorite!

3. Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning is a trend that is still farther out on the horizon, although some great examples of it already exist. Essentially, the learning content (the output) changes based on the performance of the learner (the input). A great example of adaptive learning that also uses gamification is the brain training platform Elevate, available for free on iOS and Android. Our own Knowledge Guru platform incorporates adaptive learning in the minigames learners play at the end of each topic.

Recommended Session:

Adaptive Learning: Unleashing the Holy Grail of Deep Learning Measurement
Presented by Glenn Bull, Skilitics
Monday, 5/23  4:30 -5:30 pm
Session Link

4. xAPI

The xAPI is another trend that was being talked about several years ago. It’s been called many different names (Tin Can API, Experience API, xAPI) and promises to eventually replace SCORM as the standard for learning measurement. xAPI is useful because it allows for a wider variety of experiences, such as the various learning trends described here, to be tracked in a system of record like an LMS. xAPI also allows for more detailed and useful learning analytics to be captured.

Recommended Session:

Adventures in xAPI 
Presented by Megan Torrance, TorranceLearning
Tuesday, 5/24 1:oo pm – 2:00 pm
Session Link

5. Mobile reinforcement and performance support

Last but certainly not least, you can learn about how learning experiences are being created for the device you’ll likely be holding in your hand for the majority of the conference. Mobile learning has come a long way since it was first being hyped up at conferences, and a growing number of organizations actively deploy mobile-first learning experiences to their employees. The effective use of mobile is essential to making many of the other trends I have described possible.

Recommended Session:

Getting the Most out of Mobile in Performance Support
Presented by Scott McCormick, Float Mobile Learning
Wednesday, 5/25  1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Session Link

Come and See us at ATD ICE 2016


We will be exhibiting at ATD International for the fourth straight year, and our President, Sharon Boller is delivering two sessions. You can learn all about our conference activities by clicking the button below: