Valuable Insights from ATD’s TechKnowledge 2018 Conference

In late January, we attended ATD’s TechKnowledge 2018 conference at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Covering numerous topics such as elearning, virtual classrooms, management, strategy, and emerging technologies—this 3-day event was both eye opening and informative.

We wanted to share the most interesting ideas and key takeaways from the conference:

Anthoine Wurth, CEO of Mindmarker, presented on how reinforcement increases impact. For attendees interested in learning actionable tips on how to use reinforcement to improve training and increase results, Wurth outlined practical tips on building reinforcement objectives; measuring knowledge retention; closing the common training reinforcement gaps, and achieving the three phases of behavior change.

In addition, Wurth spent part of his session explaining how to bring about behavior change. He explained that ROI is 0% until you see behavior change. And to get this behavior change, organizations must spend 15% of time “telling” the employee, 25% “giving” them the knowledge and skills to do it, and 60% of the time “incentivizing” the behavior change.

John Mattox, Managing Consultant at Corporate Executive Board, presented on how learning drives metrics. According to Mattox, as technology advances, so does learning. And new and different ways of learning develop every day. In this new world, learning and development professionals face two challenges: measuring the wide variety of learning methods and communicating the influence of learning to business leaders. His session described the best practices for measuring formal and informal learning, as well as practical ways to summarize and communicate the value of learning’s influence on performance.

In addition, Mattox discussed how today’s digital learner is empowered (they can find information anywhere and at anytime); networked (they have peers that can teach them how to do things); and impatient (they are accustomed to instantaneous and accessible information). He also explained how training portfolios fit into four categories: maximizing operational efficiency, driving growth, mitigating risk and building, and maintaining foundational skills.

Kassy LaBorie, Principal Consultant at Kassy LaBorie Consulting, and Karen Greenfield, Global Director of SAP’s Virtual Live Classroom Program, presented 20 master strategies for facilitating and giving virtual courses. Here, they shared powerful tips, tricks, and practices to lead engaging online learning sessions. For example, they offered the following virtual classroom methods to engage an audience:

  • Practice “purposeful silence” when asking participants to respond by allowing quiet time for participants to think, process and respond.
  • Encourage others to answer questions instead of being the first to comment.
  • Research your topic, learn about your audience, use specific examples relevant to their industry, company, and the culture of the participants. Use stories to make the content memorable.
  • Have a trusted friend or colleague who knows how to deliver online learning observe you and provide feedback and coaching. Get out of the rut of bad habits, such as too many filler words or calling attention to technology.

Becky Pluth, CEO and president of The Bob Pike Group, presented a session on improving retention. According to Pluth, research shows that we remember best when we see or hear a principle first and then have it repeated as the last thing in a session. Consequently, presenters must start strong and end strong—with intentional and effective openers and closers. And to improve retention and engagement throughout the webinar, Pluth suggests offering revisiters and energizers.

Her nine steps to effectively facilitating activities includes gaining attention, explaining the signal, explaining the directions, giving a model, repeating directions, giving a signal, watching the activity, thanking, debriefing and sharing.

And finally, Kevin Carroll, author, speaker and agent for social change, delivered the keynote address, which focused on how organizations and individuals should embrace their spirit of play and creativity. This, in turn, maximizes their human potential and sustains more meaningful business and personal growth.

According to Carroll, play was “serious” business in our youth—and it should be even more serious business in our professional lives if we hope to unleash the creative genius that spurs organizational growth. In his keynote, Carroll described the relevance of play and how we must continue to tap into those lessons for our future success. In addition, he spoke about how a business culture that incorporates “purposeful play” can improve leadership, employee quality of life, and retention, as well as attract new talent.

Because technology is a vital part of today’s workplace learning, training professionals must stay on top of the current trends. The ATD TechKnowledge conference not only showcased these trends, but also inspired and encouraged L&D professionals to embrace these trends in the workplace. The goal was to think, create, and connect. And that’s exactly what happened.

For more information about ATD TechKnowledge 2018, visit

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