The 2018 ATD International Conference & Expo is right around the corner and each year, we like to plan out and prioritize the sessions we want to attend. But with 400+ sessions, how do you narrow down your list and identify the most relevant topics? Well, this article is a great place to start! Below, I’ve listed eight sessions at #ATD2018 you’ll want to add to your agenda. This year, you can find topics on anything from gamification and emerging learning technologies, to mobile learning and employee engagement strategies.

BLP will also be exhibiting during expo hours in booth 814. We hope to see you there!

1. Using Technology to Produce Learning Transfer and Sustainable Corporate Change

Presented by: Art Kohn

Sunday, 5/6: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

As trainers, our success is measured by whether we can get people to apply what they learn and behave differently. Unfortunately, there are myths that undercut our success, and the well-established techniques of behavior change are not well understood. In this session, Art examines the scientific research demonstrating how to produce sustainable learning transfer and behavior change. He explores how to produce behavior change among individuals and demonstrates specific techniques and incentive programs that are tailored to the person’s readiness for change. He also sheds light on myths that often interfere with effective behavior change.

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2. Adaptive Technology: Artificial Intelligence Comes to Learning

Presented by: Bob Fogel & Christina Yu

Sunday, 5/6: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Imagine a course that adapts in real-time to each learner’s behavior and performance, their unique strengths, weaknesses, confidence, and engagement level. That’s adaptive learning. The technology uses artificial intelligence to optimize each learner’s experience, enabling them to learn as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In this session, Bob and Christina go beyond surface definitions. They’ll help you grasp on a scientific level how adaptive technology optimizes learning to produce holistic mastery, long-term knowledge retention, and true concept application. You’ll learn how principles seated in neuroscience can be embedded in learning algorithms to unlock each learner’s potential. Finally, explore how to leverage the benefits of adaptive technology to drive top-line growth and bottom-line results.

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3. When Games Go Small

Presented by: Sharon Boller

Monday, 5/7: 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM

Smartphones are everywhere. One of the most common uses for these phones is to play games, and this game market is growing fast. Games in this space have a unique ability to provide just-in-time micro-reinforcement to people in a highly engaging way. However, just as a child is not just a short adult, a mobile screen is not just a shrunken desktop. The smaller screen on a smartphone requires designers to have skills in four areas to produce a meaningful game: user experience (UX) design, instructional design (ID), game design, and user interface (UI) design.

In this session, BLP President, Sharon Boller, will share what tactics matter most in each quadrant, and how to evaluate your learning game design against best practices in each one. Leave with a one-page job aid you can use to evaluate and improve your own designs (mobile and otherwise)!

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4. Experiential Learning: Building a Culture of Innovation

Presented by: Suzanne Coffman, Alissa Weiher, & Jerry Kaminski

Monday, 5/7: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Experiential learning is an umbrella term encompassing learning that occurs through action learning, on the job, via simulations and serious games, and as part of escape rooms. However, it is more than just a hands-on-doing activity. It is any means that provide tangible experiences from which participants intentionally derive insights on their skills and actions based on reflection and discussion. Moreover, it includes a call to action for constantly getting better at getting better.

While many trainers think of experiential learning as time-consuming, difficult, and complicated, there are techniques that demonstrate the power of this approach that are simple and can be incorporated in a variety of situations. In this session, you will have the opportunity to “learn by doing” as you participate in experiential learning and the many ways it can be used.

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5. Building a Highly Engaging Work Culture: It Takes a Village!

Presented by: Rebecca Ray & Amanda Popiela

Tuesday, 5/8: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

You lead the employee engagement efforts for your company. And you know that it’s the responsibility of everyone to drive employee engagement to accomplish the mission. Do your leaders “get” it? Do you wish that you had the research and tools to make the case and communicate this “it takes a village” approach to all of the stakeholders?

In this session, we’ll explore what four years of research tells us about how engaging cultures and leaders are forged. We’ll also explore what individual employees need to know about being part of the solution. Learn the eight critical elements highly engaging cultures have in common, the 12 behaviors highly engaging leaders consistently do effectively, and the six steps employees can take to engage at work. You will receive three diagnostic tools to assess and then build high levels of engagement to drive business results.

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6. What’s Really Happening in Virtual Reality?

Presented by: David Kelly

Tuesday, 5/8: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Virtual reality (VR) has exploded over the last year, extending to conversations in the mobile, gaming, and video landscape. There’s a rapidly rising interest in how to use this new technology for learning and performance. With VR now one of the hottest buzzwords, how much is hype and how much is substance?

In this session, you will explore the current state of virtual reality and see examples of virtual reality in practice in both the consumer and enterprise markets. You will also examine what’s working—and what’s not—and how you can apply those lessons to learning and development.

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7. How AI and Machine Learning Will Support Learning and Talent Development Decision Making

Presented by: Ian Cook

Tuesday, 5/8: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Learning professionals need to keep an eye on advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) because of their potential to improve business areas traditionally led by human judgment. The benefits and challenges of these technologies make it increasingly critical to understand how AI and ML affect learning, and when their use will be most effective. This session will demystify AI and ML by putting them into human terms, so that you can know with confidence when to utilize these innovations in your talent development activities. Find out which learning decisions will benefit the most, which ones are out of scope, and how to make the judgment call on when to apply them. Using case studies and hands-on exercises, you will come away with steps to using AI and ML to improve your judgment, so learner selection and training outcomes can be optimized.

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8. Promise vs. Hype: How to Evaluate Emerging Learning Technologies

Presented by: Nick Shelton & Steven Boller

Wednesday, 5/9: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Each year, new learning technologies are touted as the next big thing in learning and development. Some have staying power, while others turn out to be passing fads. Even when a learning technology has a strong use case, poor needs analysis and half-baked implementation can lead to missed expectations and disappointed stakeholders.

Nick Shelton and Steven Boller (part of the team here at BLP) will demonstrate a tried and true methodology for evaluating new learning technologies. Using Articulate Rise 360 as a sample tool and the use of games for learning as a sample trend, they will walk through the technology evaluation process. They’ll also demonstrate how an organization can evaluate new tools and techniques, create realistic use cases, and develop an appropriate proof of concept. Then, they’ll discuss the learning technology landscape in 2018 and share their analysis and predictions on the latest tools and techniques.

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If you prefer a more intimate learning environment, you may be interested in eXLearn – BLP’s first annual conference for workplace learning professionals. Learn more and sign up to be notified when registration opens to receive an early bird discount.