As a sponsor of the recent ATD 2017 conference, Simplilearn attended a number of educational sessions. If you missed the show—or attended but skipped some sessions—we wanted to summarize and share a few key nuggets from our favorite training-oriented presentations.

The Simplilearn booth team: Josh Pfister, Ana Encalada, Danny Stutts, Ryan Heitman and CEO Krishna Kumar (left to right).

With 115 sessions over four days, it was impossible to see it all. For a complete list of presentations, click the track links above. (Some even include downloadable slide decks.) Here are our top three highlights from the sessions we attended.

1. Improve Training by Challenging Old Learning Rituals

The face and the facts of learning are changing, and today’s trainers need to adopt a new way of thinking. That was the stern admonition behind Elliott Masie’s witty and insightful presentation, Learning Trends, Hype, Disrupters, and Shifts in 2017. Here are a few surprises:

  • Learners are no longer memorizing.
  • The average video attention span is less than two and a half minutes.
  • Mobile learning is quickly becoming the most popular tool.
  • Most training providers don’t take their own courses.
  • ROI is pointless; what matters is impact on behavior.

According to Masie, “Today, people only learn 1) what they need to know now, 2) how they can quickly find the lesson again and 3) how other people are learning.”

Masie explained how learning professionals can tell the difference between helpful innovation and hype. Modern technologies like personalization, virtual classrooms, machine learning, virtual reality and gamification are making learners themselves the most influential force in their training experience.

Masie predicts that the future of learning will feature blended learning made up of more and different formats, shorter videos and content curated through effective data analysis and personalized by the learners themselves. Learning producers can succeed by tapping into people’s instinctive curiosity.

2. Make Training Last by Reinforcing Memory

The final and most important measure of making training work is behavior change. In his memorable session, Using Technology to Produce Learning Transfer and Sustainable Corporate Change, Art Kohn, Ph.D., a Professor at Portland State University, walked attendees through his ASPIRE framework of an effective L&D program. Aspire stands for Assessment, Self-inventory, Personalized learning, Interactive training, Reinforcement and Evidence.

“What you do after training is more important than the training itself,” according to Kohn. “This is true because...individuals forget 70 percent of what they have learned within 24 hours.”

Kohn said the key to boosting retention is to provide learners with repeated opportunities to think about their new information in the days and weeks after training. Managers can accomplish this through emails, instant messaging, a training web page, company intranet or by using automated tools.

Keep the reminders short; use just a few lines to highlight one or two important takeaways from the training at a time. Ideally, you should deliver such memory boosters at a cadence of two days, two weeks and two months after the training event.

How to Prove Your Program’s Worth and Boost Your Budget

The measurements that most Learning and Development professionals focus on tracking are actually the opposite of metrics most COOs care about.

In his session, How to Keep (and Increase) Your Learning and Talent Development Budget, Jack L. Phillips, Ph.D., President of The ROI Institute, discussed how honing in on Impact levels instead of learner’s Reaction levels can give you the data you need to save or even supercharge your training budget.

Phillips centered his discussion around the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model (the most common training assessment tool). The model offers the following levels of measurement: Level 1, Reaction; Level 2, Learning; Level 3 = Behavior; Level 4, Results and Level 5: ROI. For more information, please see our Simplilearn white paper, Measuring Training Effectiveness).

Phillips warned that most post-training evaluations are ill-equipped to provide the data relevant to justifying the expense of a Learning and Development program. “Impact and ROI levels matter most to executives, but only 4 percent to 8 percent of training programs measure them,” said Phillips.

Moving toward a program that reflects impact and ROI doesn't mean you have to start measuring them. Phillips suggested you have to change your training programs from the beginning, by designing them with an eye on accomplishing actual business results. When your L&D program aligns to your company’s business goals, the ROI is easy to achieve and demonstrate.

Learner surveys are still useful, assured Phillips. However, when measuring reaction levels, always include “Intent to use” as one of your questions. This helps demonstrate and compare impact assessments later on.

“Certification makes a highly credible and easily quantified metric for ROI,” Phillips added.

3. Effective Trainers Never Stop Learning

The dynamic nature of Learning and Development demands constant attention to the changing needs and habits of learners—as well as technological innovations in training delivery. Even new discoveries in the field of psychology can help training professionals improve the effectiveness of their programs.

That’s why it’s important to always stay at least one step ahead of your future learners. Educational conferences like ATD 2017 play an essential role in sharing these new ideas so that you and your business can succeed.

The next ATD International Conference and Exhibition will be in San Diego, California on May 6-9, 2018. Visit for more information. We hope you visit us there!