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Home / Resources / 12 months of learning: look back at 2018

12 months of learning: look back at 2018


2018 was a year when learning technologies stepped up to meet some of the biggest workplace challenges facing businesses. For example, a learning game for GDPR compliance; interactive virtual reality to help keep people safe at work; and microlearning to drive behaviour change.

But it was also a year when L&D put their hands up and said: “We need to be thinking more creatively if want to deliver the innovative learning that meets the demands of rapid change and creates the agile workforce we need.”

For Sponge, it was an unprecedented year of growth and industry recognition. In this reflection on 2018, we’ve picked out some of the highlights, challenges and trends that have shaped an exciting year in digital learning.

January – Learning Technologies 2018

Europe’s largest learning technologies event was the busiest ever this year, with over 8,000 professionals attending Learning Technologies 2018 at London Olympia. The annual event had plenty to inspire delegates, with 200 exhibitors, 150 free seminars and 10 exhibition hall theatres. Sponge hosted a packed seminar about learning campaigns and challenged learning professionals to test their knowledge in a game designed exclusively for the event.

February – The Learning Awards 2018

Sponge’s ‘Inspiring Customer First’ learning campaign with AXA Business Insurance (ABI) picked up its third award, winning silver at the 22nd Annual Learning Awards at the Dorchester in London. The award, in the External Learning Solution of the Year category, was for the multi-faceted customer services learning programme at ABI’s contact centre in Glasgow.

March – Microlearning the No. 1 trend

The LinkedIn 2018 Workplace Learning Report listed microlearning as the top learning trend, so we took the opportunity to set the record straight about how it works. Michael Quann, Head of Microlearning Solutions at Sponge, busted the 7 big microlearning myths and revealed the key to ensuring microlearning success.

April – Seasonal workers need training too!

Seasonal staff might only be temporary, but they’re often public-facing employees – so training them is just as important as training permanent staff. In some sectors, notably leisure and tourism, this is the busiest time of year when most of the yearly revenue is earned. Onboarding and talent management for seasonal workers is therefore a must.

May – GDPR is launched

The arrival of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May left many organisations struggling to have compliance training in place. Some failed to even see the importance of engaging their people in the new rules on data privacy. In response to the need to train large numbers of employees quickly, Sponge created a learning game, GDPR Sorted.  But 25 May was just the start of the challenge for L&D. The answer is to have a  continuous learning programme for GDPR compliance.  

June – LT Summer Forum

The Learning Technologies Summer Forum brought together L&D professionals to network and discuss the latest developments in learning technologies. One of the main messages this year was the need for L&D to be more creative and to consider doing things differently. With this in mind, Kate Pasterfield, Head of Innovation at Sponge, and JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect with Axonify, presented a seminar to illustrate how L&D could unleash their learning genius.

July – Innovation goes to the top of the agenda

We released the results of a survey conducted by the Sponge team at June’s LT Summer Forum, which confirmed ‘the innovation gap’ in L&D. While most professionals rated innovation as vital, they also awarded themselves low scores for delivering innovative learning. The good news is that there are some easy ways for L&D to fire up learning innovation.

August – Onboarding takes centre stage

The global skills shortage focused minds on the importance of onboarding like never before. With the challenge of attracting and retaining talent becoming one of the key battlefields to win, L&D are tasked with creating a positive onboarding experience that will give their organisation an edge. Our 7 dos and don’ts of digital onboarding is a must-read guide for L&D. 

September – VR training adds bite to training

The power of immersive technologies in workplace learning received widespread media publicity, following the launch of a pilot project to raise dog safety awareness among the UK’s postal workers. Royal Mail is using an interactive virtual reality (VR) training experience created by Sponge to highlight the hazards posed by dogs and to train their postmen and women about staying safe.

October – World of Learning

Achieving behaviour change through eLearning was one of the main topics at the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition at NEC Birmingham. During the two-day event, Sponge’s Senior Learning Designer, Sam Yates, revealed the secrets behind creating the behaviour changes needed to improve performance and results. The top tip? Focus on the people as well as the outcomes.

November – 2018 Learning Technologies Awards

The prestigious 2018 LT Awards were held at a glittering ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London on 21 November. It was an evening for the industry to recognise learning that’s making a difference for organisations and to celebrate successes. Sponge scooped silver in the coveted Learning Technologies Company of the Year category and was described by the judges as “the most inspirational organisation” of the 11 finalists in the category.

December – Evolution continues in 2019

As the year draws to a close, thoughts turn to the challenges of the coming year. As L&D continues to evolve from “the training department” to a strategic business partner, we look at the top 5 business priorities facing global organisations and highlight how L&D can add the most value.

Finally, these are exciting times for the corporate learning industry. Yes, there are some huge workplace challenges.  But there are also increasingly creative and innovative solutions. The trick now is to build on 2018’s learning technology successes in 2019 and the years beyond.