501 Hype or Real: How to Evaluate Trends

8:15 AM - 9:30 AM Thursday, December 3

Nobody wants to be the person who jumped on a trend early only to have it not take off or even turn out not to live up to what was promised. But on the other hand, we also don’t want to miss the early signs of a trend that in the long term ends up deeply changing how we work either. So how do you find a good balance between healthy skepticism and the willingness to take a chance on something new, allowing you to push the envelope on your work and organization without costly missteps from chasing after trendy new topics that just don’t pan out?

In this session you’ll hear from a panel of L&D practitioners about how they evaluate the trends in both our industry, and in technology overall. You’ll get insights on how each of them critically analyzes the trends they encounter, and what their processes are for determining if something seems like it’s all hype or might have real value. They’ll also give you ideas for how to build credibility with your clients/stakeholders so your advice to them about trends can carry weight.

In the session you’ll learn:

  • What signs can hint a trend might not be all that it promises to be
  • Where to find more information on new trends that could be worth your time
  • How to know if a trend might be valuable overall, but not for the specific challenge you’re trying to solve
  • How to talk an excited stakeholder/client out of an ill-advised investment in a trend they don’t need
  • How to talk a cautious stakeholder/client into a cutting-edge trend that they’re nervous about but is a great fit for their needs.

Mike Taylor

Learning Consultant

Mike Taylor

With over two decades of real-life, in-the-trenches experience designing and delivering learning experiences, Mike Taylor understands that effective learning isn't about the latest fad or trendy new tools. Known for his practical, street-savvy style, Mike is a regular and highly-rated speaker at industry events, and consults on learning design and technology at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio. Mike holds an MBA degree from Ohio University and a master's degree in educational technology from San Diego State University.

Mathias Vermeulen


Winston Wolfe

Mathias Vermeulen, the owner of Winston Wolfe Innovative HR Solutions, has an eight-year track record in L&D and HR management. He received Belgian Learning & Development Awards in 2010 & 2011 and a nomination for 2013. Topics for the 2011 & 2013 awards were in the game-based learning and gamification domain.

Becca Wilson

Senior Product Manager, Training & Certification

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Becca Wilson is a New York City-based product manager, designer, and facilitator with experience creating innovative and engaging education products for companies and individuals. She has more than 10 years of experience in instructional design, training delivery, and developing blended learning strategies for Fortune 500 organizations. Becca currently works at Amazon Web Services (AWS) on initiatives designed to close the global cloud skills gap at scale. Previously, she worked at IBM where she focused on addressing the scarcity of artificial intelligence skills in the marketplace. Becca was also an education product manager and learning experience architect at General Assembly, supporting the ongoing discovery and development of scalable learning products in UX and product management.

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