Learning Technologies 2018: The Inside Track with David Perring

On the eve of Learning Technologies, and the day that the initial headlines of the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research are shared for the first time, I talk to Fosway Group’s director of research, David Perring, veteran of too many years’ attendance to mention, and who is delivering two sessions in this year’s conference.

KG: What are you looking forward to at Learning Technologies 2018?

DP: I’m obviously looking forward to hosting two conference sessions – more on those below. And it’s always a great chance to meet up with people in my network and have the chance to talk face to face. In the exhibition, I will enjoy seeing the launch of some amazing solutions we have been privileged to preview in advance. These encompass so many new areas, including real time support which has always been a hot topic for me. Seeing compelling and innovative solutions in this space really excites me. And with the learning technology market changing at pace, we need real innovation – it’s simply not enough to offer the same old dull stuff any more!

KG: What should people be thinking about before they attend to ensure they are as prepared as possible?


  • Book meetings with people in your network who you learn from and use the show as a time to connect. One head of learning always did this brilliantly using www.agreeadate.com and letting people self-select meet-up times.
  • Know the suppliers you want to meet. Come with an agenda. Know what innovations you want to explore and check out the vendors in that space before you come so you can make the most of your time.
  • If you’re not in the main conference, check out the free seminar programme. This is extensive now, across 10 theatres and there is great value and insights to be had, so it’s well worth seeing if there is anything that’s worth checking on
  • Do try a VR headset – especially for virtual meetings. I think it will open your eyes about some simple ways to start exploring this innovation your organisation without needing a big budget.

KG: As someone who has attended the show both as a buyer and an analyst, what are your top tips for attendees to get the most out of their conversations at the event?

DP: I have a couple of top tips here. Firstly, ask other attendees what they’ve seen which is the most amazing! Sounds simple but there is usually something that stands out, so do network and strike up some conversations with attendees. Or just come and ask me at the Fosway Analyst Lounge on the day…I’d be delighted to swap insights.

Also, if you see something that really interests you, don’t pussy foot around – be unusually direct and ask the supplier how much it costs, how long it takes to implement, who are the reference customers, what support they offer and what they would do to make you a referenceable customer and what special deal they could do for you.

KG: What will you be talking about in your sessions at this year’s Learning Technologies?

I’ve got a session on the 31st Jan in the conference at 11:10 sharing some thinking about the hot topic of nudge theory and how you can think about using it for learning with some practical examples. It’s an area that most learning technology has completely ignored to date, but it’s going to become increasingly important. It should provide some great food for thought!

I’m also doing a lunch time session with David Wilson on 1st February covering the truth about Digital Learning exploring the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research that we do in partnership with the organisers of Learning Technologies. Over 1300 L&D professionals worldwide have already taken part. We’ll be exploring what tech is really working and which are just hype or wishful thinking. We have insights into L&D budgets and how skill sets are changing with the growth of digital. The research is running now and this will be the first look at what customers are doing (you can still take part in the research here).

KG: Why is it important for people to take part in the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research?

DP: It’s the only way we see through all the marketing blurb and is to hear what customers are really doing. When there is so much marketing content trying to sell the latest product or service, like microlearning or courses not resources – who can you rely on to tell you the objective truth about what’s working/what’s really being adopted and what buyers think of it?

By getting involved in our research, people start to provide more transparency and get a clearer insight into what’s really going on. It’s more than enabling you to benchmark yourself. We have always been passionate about sharing our insights through our free reports including our 9-Grids™. And our independent research enables us to provide stronger insights about suppliers and be an objective voice of the customer and market.

KG: What are your hopes for digital learning/learning technology in the year ahead?

DP: That it’s not the same old dull stuff people had to do last year and the year before that. I hope this year that organisations focus more on buying solutions that power active learning cycles, learning experiences and real performance support, than they do dumping content into people’s heads. We have seen the market be dominated by an underlying content agenda, but we know that’s not always best for learners. The tide is turning…but it might take more than a year.

You can see the initial headlines from the 2018 Digital Learning Realities research here and collect your copy from the Fosway Analyst Lounge. Learning Technologies opens in London on 31 January 2018. Full details here. And you can follow all the action via #LT18UK.


About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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