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A year in L&D: The editor's view

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17th Dec 2012
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Jon Kennard surveys a busy year for the training industry.
2012. How was it for you? God bless the Mayans - they got their stargazing a bit squiffy didn't they? It seems Homo sapiens will be around a little while longer. Maybe the Mayans should have read Alan Matthews' article on source reliability and the Ebbinghaus...what was it called?
2012 was, amongst many other things, the year of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. Rather, it was the year of the idea of BYOD. Widespread adoption will follow in 2013 and beyond. Why has this become so popular? It could be because people are fed up with carrying two phones and two tablets around - I know I am, I've just signed up for using my personal phone as my work phone as of next year. Is it that businesses want their employees to be happy with the tech they're used to? Of course, it may just be a simple 'b word' issue.
Whatever the reason for its popularity, it might force software designers into embracing a bit of platform agnosticism. Which is surely a good thing, for the usability of learning technologies.
Another trend in 2012 was the acquisition. There are only four software companies left moving into 2013, and they're all based in Reading. This of course is not true, but fewer companies means less competition, which means less innovation. Not great for the market. Not that the 'end-user' will necessarily care - learning finds a way, or so I optimistically like to think.
Our year on site started out philosophically and ended practically, with themes like 'evolution of learning' and 'coaching' making way for 'events and conferences' and 'organisational development' as the year progressed.
Our blogging community (start today - it's dead easy) expanded rapidly, as more TZ members realised how simple it was to get started. Everyone has a story to tell, and you did this in abundance this year. Thank you for engaging with our blogs section.
We all love a list, and this was thoroughly evinced by our top ten tablet apps for L&D professionals article (nearly 7,000 reads to date), and elsewhere email productivity proved popular, as did the debate around elearning.
In February, we started mobilising the troops for TrainingZone Live, the third year of our different spin on the L&D event; more workshops and fewer talks, smaller groups and less pitching. On site, opportunistic articles about the success of the year's Oscar winners sat next to history lessons as we looked at the past present and future of L&D, and March carried on the evolutionary theme as we tackled the subject of 'out-of-the-office'. This caused a modicum of confusion amongst PRs and regular contributors (a few people thought I was talking about the holiday plans of freelance trainers), so I won't be running it again under this name, but the gist of the month was to get an idea of what it was like to work remotely or on a freelance basis. Regular writer Stephen walker got the idea.
April was devoted to a topic we don’t often address explicitly, 'training needs analysis'. It went down well, and proved itself to be something that is more important than ever at the moment. But we had plenty of tools to help people get the feedback and results they required.
May was the month of our event, and despite a successful day and some great feedback, it proved short-lived praise and TZLive 2012 was the last instalment. Like many great events in the L&D space, it became financially unviable. Coaching was the theme of the month, and it's a subject that has proved contentious and thrilling in equal measure. There were introductions to the discipline, real-world applications and case studies too – a comprehensive coverage of an industry still in relative infancy and in need of an accreditation body or two.
Over the summer, 'How to…', 'freelance trainers' and 'higher education' all took a turn centre stage, the latter a new addition to the site, and probably a permanent one, as apprenticeships gained increasing importance with universities becoming an increasingly less attractive option.
As a new season of events kicked off, so we covered the goings on around the country with our 'events and conferences' month – articles about leadership styles and training engagement proved popular, and all the while we were also developing and researching what we were going to do with the brand new TrainingZone that the tech team were creating for us. We wanted to make it bolder, cleaner, faster, easier to navigate. The usual improvements, but something that reflected what the community wanted and what we needed.
Further into autumn, organisational development and soft skills went back to back, probably close to the extremes of subject that we cover on TZ. Maybe improving one's soft skills could have a positive effect on the development of one’s organisation? Ian Luxford certainly had a different take on what would traditionally be viewed as falling within the scope of something as fluffy as soft skills.
So a lot to think about, as always. And a lot to look forward to, too. It was a deliberate ploy on my behalf to try and make it through this whole review without using the word budget. Why? Because it's not news anymore. 'More with less' is no longer a conscious mantra. It's hardwired into the DNA of your HR and L&D departments. And with the forecast from the coalition's autumn statement, this mindset will be here to stay. So let's keep innovating and work out what we can do to up-, re- and cross-skill the nation's workforces.
See you on the other side...
Jon Kennard is editor of TrainingZone
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