Moving Learning Forward – ATD TechKnowledge 2023

Speaker BadgeTechKnowledge

TechKnowledge is the ATD’s geek conference and this year held some great surprises. I’ve been attending for a number of years (thing double-digits) and it is great to see this event continue to evolve while keeping its focus on advancing learning through technology. This year’s event was held at the Marriott New Orleans, February 7 – 9.

Rick Lozano kicked off the first morning as emcee getting everyone motivated with music and providing an overview of the event.  The general sessions and select “super sessions” were being recorded and live-streamed to remote attendees. Rick filled the transition times all three days telling stories and playing guitar.

After Rick had everyone’s brain engaged, Jim Kwik took on the task of putting those brains to work.  Jim is founder of Kwik Brains Universe and is a memory master.  Jim discussed how all behavior is belief-driven so, to change your behavior, you must change what you believe.  Using the acronym BeFast, Jim discussed six keys to improving memory. BELIEVE that you can. EXERCISE, or practice, improving your memory actively.  FORGET multitasking and focus on what you need to remember by eliminating distractions. Be ACTIVE in your learning as your aren’t feeding your brain unless your blood is pumping. Your STATE of mind can significantly throttle your ability while emotion can lock memories in for life. Finally, learn like you intend to TEACH.  If you learn with the goal of being able to explain new information to someone else, you deepen the connections of that new information in your brain.


As great as the keynote, the power of the conference is in the programming.  The ATD crew pulled together some of my favorite learning leaders to share their wisdom.  Just looking at the schedule a few hot topics become apparent.

Megan Torrance

First is the prevalence of AR and VR for Learning.   Debbie Richards, president of Creative Interactive Ideas, presented on Preparing your Company for Immersive Learning Programs.  This session outlined some of the considerations for launching into VR training like infrastructure and hardware needs.  Debbie was also interviewed in a Fireside Chat on easy ways to get started with VR.  Dr. Jennifer Solberg, President of Quantum Improvements Consulting,  discussed evaluating usability in immersive technology.  Other VR sessions included Karl Kapp on Designing Learning Experiences for the Metaverse, Leveraging VR to maximize Diversity and Inclusion training, and setting up an AR/VR infrastructure at scale within a large organization.

xAPI, Data, and Learning Analytics form a second trend that captured everyone’s interest.  As a matter of fact, the second day of the conference kicked off with a general session building your L&D’s technology acumen by Jasmin Gutierrez from Waste Management and Anthony Auriemmo from Capri Holding (that’s Versace, Jimmy Choo and Michael Kors brands).  In their discussion, having a base-line understanding of learning data is critical.  The brilliant Megan Torrance, President of Torrance Learning, started off day one presenting on Learning Data for Analytics and Action.  Megan explored how xAPI can help us move beyond traditional training metrics (like score and completion) to provide deep analysis of content and user capability. I was honored to get to speak on getting stakeholder buy-in for xAPI.  A special thank you to Learning Ninja’s President Sarah Mercier for helping out. Make sure to check out their xAPI Basics course at Amazon wrapped up the data sessions with Learning Technologist Zsolt Olah discussing Data Literacy Basics for Learning and AWS Program Manager, Myra Roldan with Amazon Web Services even explored using block-chain for learning (keep your eye on this space).

Of course there were plenty of other topics from using managing microlearning to blending asynchronous and synchronous training events.  Perhaps not as prevalent as AR/VR or Learning Analytics but a trend I love to see did appear in two sessions.  Both focused on the impact of art for memory and retention.  The amazing artist, Kevin Thorn, President of NuggetHead Studioz explored research on instructional comics.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch Kevin illustrate, you are missing out.  It’s like watching up-close magic. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch Scotiabank’s Stephanie West discussing the impact of functional animation on memory but look forward to catching up on it.

Studio TK

In addition to all the sessions, the ATD hosted a Studio TK area at the conference.  Think an expo hall without being trapped inside a booth.  Sponsors had kiosks where you could network and try out their newest technology.  I was able to catch-up with the Immerse Learning folks to see the VR training they produce. A career center was setup in Studio TK as well giving attendees free headshots and even offering portfolio reviews by industry experts.  Of course no ATD event would be complete with the ATD Central and Bookstore where authors were available to discuss and sign their books.

What’s Next?

The 2024 TechKnowledge conference is already schedule for February 7-9 in Los Angeles but you don’t have to wait a year to connect.  RISC is exhibiting at the ATD International Conference and Expo in San Diego May 21 – 24, 2023.  Find us in booth number 2223.  Click here to see the floor plan.  Stop in to discuss all things learning including xAPI and cmi5.  Plus you can get a fresh headshot from Dylan Todd Photography.

RISC’s final conference for 2023 will be the Learning Guild’s DevLearn in Las Vegas, October 25-27, 2023.  Find us in booth 1107 in the Mirage convention center for my favorite learning conference of the year.  Need anything in the mean time, never hesitate to reach out directly at

Duncan Welder IV
Director of Client Services RISC, Inc
Mr. Welder holds a Master’s of Education from Texas A&M University in Educational Technology and has more than 25 years experience in implementation of Learning Management Systems, both domestically and abroad. Mr. Welder has been recognized for his application of Learning Management Systems to manage regulatory-compliance in industries ranging from petrochemicals to finance and has provided presentations to professional organizations including the Gulf Coast Process Technology Alliance, the Northwest Process Technology Alliance and the American Society of Training and Development.
Mr. Welder’s career is founded in traditional instructional design and computer-based training development. He is a certified Development Dimensions International facilitator, a Kirkpatrick Certified Evaluator and facilitator of the Ohio State University curriculum development program. In addition to working in industry, Mr. Welder has held adjunct faculty positions at Bowling Green State University, Ohio and the College of the Mainland, Texas. Mr. Welder has been published in both Training Magazine as well as US Business Review.