Reflections on Learning Technologies 2011

Last week saw this year’s Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition. I was there in my official Training Foundation capacity where we had a stand. It was my remit to attend some of the free seminars and get a feel for what is being planned for this year with some of the other vendors in the exhibition halls with the occasional manning the stand.

Alas, I wasn’t able to attend the conferences on level 3 – there were some major names from the world of learning: Roger Schank, Jane Hart, Jane Bozarth, and Cathy Moore, Clark Quinn, James Clay, Craig Taylor, and Steve Wheeler to name but a few. Ah well – maybe next year.

As you would expect at a learning technologies event, Twitter played an important part in spreading the word for those who weren’t able to attend the conferences by using the hashtag #LT11UK to stream all the relevant chatter. If anyone is interested, here’s the Twitter backchannel from the conference. Nevertheless, the free talks were useful especially if you looked beyond the sales pitch of most of them.

The reflections after the event was that there seemed to be a difference in vision between the conference floor and the vendor floors but as I didn’t have first hand experience of what was being said in the conference I wouldn’t like to comment. However, what I found from this year’s exhibition was the recognition by some of the vendors of the value of enabling conversations as well as the need for bite-sized, on-demand and mobile solutions. All seemed to support the need for change in how we deliver learning. Of course, the sellers are always going to peddle their wares to the best of their ability and of course they will wow us with the latest gizmos and gadgets. But what I found refreshing was at least the acknowledgement that it’s not only about the content but collaboration too.

Adobe Captivate has incorporated a Twitter widget option to encourage collaboration and reduce the feeling of isolation in eLearning study modules; Epic has created iPhone apps for learning encouraging bite-sized learning and there are a more companies providing authoring tools for mobile technology. Personally, I’d keep my eye on the whole mobile arena now smartphone technology is well and truly settled in.

What we have to try and do is stay grounded and remember that it still has to be about the learning. It’s how we design the learning that needs to change not necessarily about using the latest gadgets. Don’t get me wrong – I love the gadgets and if we didn’t reach for the sky we’d still be sending children up chimneys. The gadgets will be the enablers – to make learning easier, more accessible and more efficient.

Look out for my musings on some of the free seminars I attended during the event. They were:
‘How to create and integrate engaging mobile learning content’
‘Ten essential tips for working with SMEs’
‘Social learning when everything’s new’
‘Going mobile’
‘Collaborative learning using Twitter and Adobe Captivate’
‘Telling stories using learning technologies’
‘Coaching for Gen Y and beyond’

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