Seven Takeaways from the ASTD Conference
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- July 3rd, 2012
The Grove attended the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) conference this year partly to introduce its Team Performance Online Survey. The Survey is the first in a series of Grove products that will be available digitally to support people interested in team performance and improvement.
With deep roots in printed materials, The Grove is experiencing (along with everyone else) a movement to more mobile, accessible media—including video, mobile apps, iPad apps, and so on. A second reason for our attending the conference, then, was to scout what’s happening in that space. We assumed that the trade show would provide a useful mirror for what is gaining momentum.
We spent a great deal of time at The Grove booth talking to people. People were excited about the prospect of dealing with teams in a visual way. As we know, the visual approach appeals cross-culturally. We received the biggest spikes of interest from people overseas, including China, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The amount of interest from Asia in particular was palpable, with people looking for what they consider to be leading-edge practices and models.
I went out on a couple of scouting expeditions, taking pictures and checking out other exhibitors. I kept asking people what they thought was working and not working. As is typical of things that are just beginning, the patterns of application and best practice are not yet clear. Different companies are specializing in different areas.
I came to seven general conclusions, just based on this informal assessment of trends in the field:
1. Digital is moving fast: First of all, there is no question that the digital revolution is in full force. A majority of exhibitors showed evidence of trying in some way, shape, or form to get going in that domain.
2. Training reinforcement is a leading application: Many reported that their biggest results are coming from reinforcing training with mobile material. If you can provide support after a live face-to-face event or a webinar—where people can check on something on their computer, tablet, or iPhone—this is particularly useful and is at the leading edge of practical, effective applications.
3. Text-based mobile apps are coming: Numerous organizations are creating mobile apps, but I didn’t see any evidence that this area is particularly conversant with graphics. The mobile apps that actually work are text-based, hierarchical, and menu-driven; basically you just click and tap.
4. Content converters are growing: Several companies are helping to translate information into various digital formats. One company is expanding into the digital realm from a global print-on-demand business, promising, “We will deliver your content on any platform: iPad, Kindle, print or PDF. You just give us the source documents. We will create these various versions on our server and then serve them to your clients.” It’s not interactive, it’s not e-learning; it’s just content being delivered digitally. It makes sense that this would emerge early as a successful business model.
5. Interactivity is a useful anti-piracy strategy: Other groups were focused completely on interactive learning and delivering it in a way that addresses the huge piracy issue in many parts of Asia. For example, a Taiwanese company that services the largest banks and institutions in Taiwan is beginning to put its content on the Cloud, making it highly interactive and password protected. You can’t download the content directly to your computer; you have to access it through the web. Because it’s interactive, you can’t take screen shots that are faithful to the actual product.
It’s clear that for all kinds of subjects, e-learning is an ascending choice. Much of this is self-paced learning. I know, from following this field, that there are many populations for which self-paced learning is preferable, such as single mothers and returning veterans.
6. Business models are in flux and evolving: Overall, I came away from ASTD convinced that the business-model dialogue about what’s going to work best is definitely not settled but is heading in the direction of supporting mobility and training extensions. I expect that the next few years will be trans-formative.
7. Visualization is exploding and will be digital: The Grove is now working in a rich field of imitators and co-creators. Participants attending from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas were fascinated with graphic facilitation and the use of visualization with other tools. Going forward, there will be a great deal of room for leadership and example setting.