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3 Trends in Focus for TechKnowledge 2019


Wed Nov 21 2018

3 Trends in Focus for TechKnowledge 2019

ATD’s TechKnowledge 2019 Conference & EXPO is fast approaching. We’re excited to be moving the event to sunny West Palm Beach next February. With more than 125 education sessions, an exhibit hall featuring more than 70 e-learning suppliers, in-depth hands-on sessions, numerous networking opportunities, engaging discussions in the Disrupt Room, and new experiences at the TK Hub, there’s a lot to do.

No matter how you schedule your time at the conference, make sure to check out a session or two in the new Trending Technologies track. Sessions in this track showcase tech that is starting to see more use, adoption, and potential for talent development.


There are three technologies in focus in the Trending Technologies track.

Trend #1: Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR)

AR and VR are often mentioned in the same breath (as we’re doing here), but they’re quite different—and have very different applications in the workplace. VR’s application lies in creating fully immersive environments. Even just a few years ago, developing a VR solution was likely out of reach (and budget) for most training departments. Costs of hardware have since gone down (the new Oculus Go headsets retail for under $200) and the developer community has grown. Leveraging 360-degree video, you can even experiment with creating VR content with little to no development experience.

Whereas VR excels at creating immersive environments and allowing us to create complex, realistic simulations in a risk-free environment, AR supports workers on the job. You may recall the crash and burn of Google Glass a few years back; what you might not know is that Glass quietly relaunched in 2017 as an enterprise tool. Glass and other AR headsets like Microsoft HoloLens are gaining in popularity, especially in manufacturing where the devices can overlay critical information and provide instruction while keeping workers’ hands free.

You may not think your organization is ready for a VR or AR solution, but now is the time to begin thinking about how it might fit in your organization’s learning strategy. A recent ATD TDXCI (Talent Development Executive Confidence Index) report found that 79 percent of respondents are not yet using AR/VR and do not have plans to begin using it next year. Conversely, a recent Harvard Business Review pulse survey, Mixed Reality: A New Dimension of Work, found that 54 percent of organizations surveyed felt that mixed reality will be important in helping the enterprise achieve its strategic business goals in the next three years, and 57 percent felt mixed reality had the greatest potential for training and educating employees. The gap here is striking. Even if you’re not ready for AR and VR, it might be time to start discussing it.

At TechKnowledge, we have a number of sessions to help you begin utilizing AR and VR in your organization:

  • If your goal is to understand how you can use VR in your organization and how other organizations are using it, check out “Transforming Your Training With Immersive VR” with Derek Belch.

  • If your goal is to begin building simple VR/AR applications to use within an existing program, check out the hands-on session, “Practical Solutions for Creating Simple 3D AR/VR Interactive Lessons” with Allen Partridge and Debbi Richards.

  • If your goal is to develop an AR experience and explore low- and no-cost AR tools, check out the hands-on session “Getting Started With Augmented Reality” with Destery Hildenbrand.

Trend #2: AI and Chat Bots

There’s a lot of debate about how artificial intelligence and automation will impact jobs—some of it gloom-and-doom, with estimates that 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide by 2030 (McKinsey Global Institute). Others are more hopeful, suggesting AI will help automate rote tasks, leaving humans open to spend time on more complex, higher-level items. In either case, it’s important for talent development professionals to begin thinking about how AI can impact their workplace and employees. Are there new skills employees will need to develop? What potential does the technology have to support your workers?

Within the AI space, chat bots are gaining traction as a way to automate tasks and provide just-in-time information and support to workers. Simple chat bots can be easy to build even without development expertise.

At TechKnowledge, we have a number of sessions to help you begin thinking strategically about AI:

  • If you want to understand the AI landscape, how it will impact the workforce, and what skills you might need to develop, check out “Artificial Intelligence at Work: What Skills Will Tomorrow’s Workforce Need?” with Ben Eubanks.

  • If you want to explore how to integrate AI into your talent development initiatives, check out “Fascination and Fear: AI at the Frontier of Digital Learning” with Evan Sinar.

  • If you want to roll up your sleeves and learn how to create an Alexa chat bot, check out “MakerLab—Let’s Build an Alexa Skill for Learning” with Mayra Roldan.

Trend #3: xAPI

We’ve been talking about xAPI (Experience API) for more than five years now. Is it really a trending technology? I’d argue yes, because it’s trending up. xAPI hasn’t had this much buzz since its launch. If you’re not familiar, xAPI is a technology specification used to collect data about experiences and activities both online and offline. This allows talent development professionals to move beyond merely tracking course completions and seat count in the LMS. We can now build robust data sets about what our learners are accessing and using, with the goal of creating a fuller picture of someone’s learning experiences. (If you’re looking for a good primer, check out Megan Torrance’s article “What Is xAPI?”)

At TechKnowledge, we have a range of sessions on xAPI, whether you’re just curious or looking to build mastery:

  • If you’re curious about what xAPI can do for you, check out “xAPI: An Introduction for Instructional Designers” with Megan Torrance.

  • If you’ve already started collecting some xAPI data and are looking to take that next step, check out “Finding Answers: Building xAPI Queries” with Anthony Altieri.

  • If you’re looking to really get serious, check out “Experience API 201: Move From Experimentation to Mastery” with TJ Seabrooks.

  • Finally, if you want to get hands-on and learn how to implement xAPI, check out the one-day preconference workshop “Learn xAPI” with Brian Dusablon and Sean Putman. (We also are offering this workshop as a full two-day event this March in Alexandria, Virginia!)

If you’re planning on attending TechKnowledge or have any questions about the event, please drop a comment below or feel free to reach out to me via email ([email protected]) or on Twitter @atdLearnTech. Hope to see you in West Palm Beach!

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