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Is ‘gamification’ now a dirty word? What will become of the proprietary LMS? Is the way we use learning data too little, too late?

These were just some of the questions raised at our inaugural EMEA Totara User Conference, which took place over two sunny spring days in London. Our beautiful venue, Glaziers Hall, was packed with Totara users, partners and experts, and with sessions covering everything from the use of virtual reality to enhance humanitarian training experiences to taking a little old lady on tour as part of an internal marketing campaign, there really was something for everyone.

Becoming brutally efficient with Lori Niles-Hofmann

Lori Niles-Hofmann at the EMEA Totara User Conference 2019

First up was senior learning strategist Lori Niles-Hofmann, who captivated the audience with the good, the bad and the ugly of learning. She first looked at the contingent worker, with their highly specialised, in-demand skill set, and considered whether workplace training is becoming a ‘tax’ on this group, with many freelancers expected to fund their own training. She highlighted the cybersecurity industry as an area suffering from a ‘skills desert’ of our own making, and then highlighted 10 key points to consider when we’re creating successful learning programmes for our learners.

For instance, Lori said that we should be careful to ‘sniff out the snake oil’ (‘Netflix of learning’, anyone?), focus on finding great writers to communicate our learning content effectively and, importantly, treating adults like adults and not patronising them. A good test, Lori said, is to show the learning you create to your parents - if it’s suitable for them, it should work for your key audience. Other interesting points included decoding ‘digital body language’, such as the number of people who abandoned courses halfway through or the peak times for training in your learning platform. This was an incredibly thought-provoking session, and absolutely everyone came away from it with plenty of food for thought.

Totara today and beyond…

André Yamin at the EMEA Totara User Conference 2019

André Yamin took to the stage to give an overview of the current Totara Learn release Totara Learn 12, including a closer look at some of the biggest improvements since the previous release. He then gave attendees an idea of what’s to come in the Totara roadmap, including the upcoming Totara Engage and Totara Perform releases, along with the Totara mobile app. Totara Perform Product Manager Michael Ball then gave attendees a sneak peek at what the new performance management offering will look like, as well as outlining some of the key new features and functionality. Attendees were pleased to discover that many of Totara’s new innovations will be available by the end of 2019, so watch this space for more news…

Being part of something bigger

Rachel Griffith-Boyes at the EMEA Totara User Conference 2019

Rachel Griffith-Boyes gave a whistlestop tour of the Totara Community, including the courses available in the Totara Academy, and shared the Community’s current move towards setting up sector-specific spaces to facilitate focused conversations. Some attendees suggested new sector spaces they want to see to join the existing healthcare and government spaces, showing the increasing demand among learning professionals to connect and share their own experiences. A quick show of hands showed that the majority of attendees were already members of the Totara Community - and if you attended but haven’t yet signed up, don’t forget to join the Totara Community today!

Getting inspired with Totara customers

Mario Perilli at the EMEA Totara User Conference 2019

Day 1 was all about our customers, with a whole host of sessions with real Totara customers who have implemented Totara software in their own organisations. From stories about migrating from proprietary solutions to Totara Learn to insights into rolling out a social learning solution that continues to provide amazing results, this was an inspiring afternoon dedicated to how Totara Learn gives organisations worldwide the freedom to innovate. It was inspiring not just for other Totara customers, but also for the Totara team, to hear from the organisations using Totara every day and making it their own and it served as a good reminder that the future of learning is truly open source.

Leveraging the expertise of our Totara Partners

James Marshall at the EMEA Totara User Conference 2019

The Totara Partners are a crucial part of our global network, and we were delighted to have seven partners representing us on day 2 of the EMEA Totara User Conference to delve into their areas of expertise in focused workshops. The mix-and-match format worked well, with delegates choosing the most relevant sessions for them, whether it was about compliance, social learning, a specific sector or something entirely different. We pride ourselves on our willingness to share within the Totara Community, and our partners play a massive role in that.

So… what happens next?

Attendees at the EMEA Totara User Conference 2019

Owing to the success of this event, we have decided to run another EMEA Totara User Conference in 2020! We’re still working on the details, but be sure to subscribe to our Totara newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to be among the first to hear about our plans for next year’s event.

However, if you’re based in the APAC region, the good news is that we are running an APAC Totara User Conference in Wellington in August 2019. Early bird tickets are selling fast, and with the addition of new pre-conference sessions, this is set to be a fantastic event for anyone who wants to make the most of their Totara platforms.

Join us, early birds!

Take advantage of our discounted rate and join us in Wellington in August 2019 for our next Totara User Conference.

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