Four Big Insights From ASTD 2014

This was our first time at the BIG show … and it really was big. From what I heard, there were over 10,000 people there from all over the world. It truly was a fantastic experience to meet and learn from a global audience. We had a lot of fun, here’s proof:

ASTD 2014
Axonify’s Angels … and bodyguards (Left to right: Dave, Sabrina, Carol, Lois and yours truly).

In this post, I wanted to share some key insights that we gathered from attendees after listening to them explain some of their biggest learning challenges:

Challenge 1: Bite-Sizing Learning

Learners have less time to learn and the reality is that L&D departments have fewer resources to spend on creating elaborate learning programs. Enter bite-sized learning. This is truly the best for both worlds. For learners, bite-sized content allows the learning to be weaved into the workday as opposed to isolated into a specific event. For the L&D department, creating bite-sized content is not only faster but it allows for the learning to be delivered more often.

Key insight: Making learning more digestible will not only make delivery easier but will also increase retention.

Challenge 2: Engaging Experiences

Storytelling, videos and gamification. These were some of the big ideas floating around in answer to the question of how to make learning engaging. Many organizations are starting to realize the cost of disengagement and as a result they are seeking innovative ways to engage learners.

Key insight: A truly engaging learning experience would have fulfilled its purpose once it creates an intrinsic desire for learning.

Challenge 3: Communicating With The Front Line

A lot of executives we spoke with mentioned that they have a need to communicate directly with front-line employees. This goes beyond traditional email communication because they want to deliver a message that transcends mere words on a screen. Executives are looking for a way to communicate their vision into the hearts and hands of their entire organization.

Key insight: Cultures are driven by vision. L&D departments have the opportunity to transform organizational culture by ensuring that the organization’s vision is reinforced every day. 

Challenge 4: Diagnostic Tools

Many learning professionals we spoke with are looking for tools to help diagnose the status of learning within their organizations. Learning organizations need to know what employees don’t know so that they can figure out how to allocate scarce resources appropriately but more importantly, figure out where resources are being wasted.

Key insight: Knowing what your employees don’t know is equally as important as ensuring they know what they need to know.

What were some of your big takeaways from ASTD 2014? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or tell us your stories on Twitter.

Written by Shum Attygalle

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