Someone – in the early days of technology – put the English proverb ‘out of sight, out of mind’ into a mainframe-housed forerunner of Google Translate. The idea was that the proverb would be translated into Russian and then back into English to prove that the software worked correctly. The result of the computer’s deliberations was: ‘Invisible idiot’.

The time has now arrived when this English proverb could be applied to this year’s Learning Technologies event in London’s Olympia. Yet, even now, the website holding the 39 presentations made at this year’s Learning Technologies conference is still ‘live’ – at

In terms of ‘views’, the runaway winner – so far – is Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology, Plymouth University, whose presentation on ‘digital learning futures’ has racked up an impressive 1,100 or so views. Next – a long way behind – comes Professor Stephen Heppell, CEO of (231 views), who also spoke on a ‘conceptual’ topic: ‘third millennium learning – dealing with the certainty of uncertainty’. Third on the popularity list comes Ray Kurzweil, who spoke on ‘the web within us: when minds and machines become one’ (120 views).

Presentations that don’t fall into the ‘science fiction’ genre seem to have fared less well. For example, the presentation by Nigel Paine – who was awarded the Colin Corder lifetime achievement trophy at the recent Learning Awards dinner in London – on ‘fully exploiting your organisation’s potential for learning’ has only garnered 20 views; while the presentation by a previous Colin Corder winner, Laura Overton (‘how L&D can lead on business agility) has tempted a mere 14 viewers so far. At least Donald Clark – another well-established thought leader in the learning technologies space – has not lost his pulling power. His presentation on ‘peer learning – why instructors need to get out of the way’ has pulled a comparatively creditable but still tiny 27 viewers.

Bringing up the rear, in terms of presentation popularity, is Jon Ingham, of Strategic HCM – well, someone has to – whose talk entitled ‘L&D can benefit from being part of HR’ has only attracted four viewings.

How can a conference which was – rightly – the talk of the learning technologies community only a few weeks ago be consigned to history so completely and so soon?  The thoughts encapsulated in the presentations have not yet been superseded – especially, those that speculated about future learning needs and learning technology solutions.

Was this event really an excuse for temporary entertainment rather than permanent enlightenment?

Maybe the more immediate pressure to continue making a living – with all that that entails – in these challenging times has taken pride of place once again. So, despite the ‘buzz’ that the show created – with outbursts of optimism occurring periodically throughout the show’s two days – it’s very much back to ‘business as usual’ for the UK economy, with learning technologies returning to its business role as an ‘invisible idiot’.