Just when you were thinking that the Learning Technologies’ format was tried, tested and unchangeable, you found that, this year, things had changed.
For one thing, the Learning Technologies exhibition – augmented for the first time last year by the Learning & Skills exhibition – was further augmented this year by the Learning Without Frontiers conference and exhibition and a related Cloud Computing exhibition. According to Mark Penton, one of the organisers of this unbridled yet highly focused ‘learningfest’, some 10,000 visitors were likely to attend over the two days of the shows. Initial evidence seemed to confirm Mark’s view. All the events were extremely busy and well attended.
For another thing several of the companies traditionally seen at the Learning Technologies/ Learning & Skills exhibitions were absent this year for one reason or another. For example, Trainer1 – now reformed from a limited company into a partnership called The Learning Coach – was absent; as was learndirect, which has gone through a change of ownership since last year’s event, and Ken Wood’s Course–Source/ Core Learning Services. Of course, in the time-honoured manner, this didn’t stop representatives of these organisations from attending the show as visitors and carrying out their networking activities clandestinely.
Third, there were some new ideas and approaches on display – notably, from the Learning & Skills event, the launch of Don Hernandez’s LearnCreate (http://www.learncreate.com), a learning technologies wholesaler seeking, initially, both buyers and suppliers of e-learning content.
Yet, amid the changes, many of the old certainties remained.
The Learning Technologies conference – even better attended than ever – paraded another high class list of speakers, beginning with ‘thinking hats’ and lateral thinking specialist, Dr Edward de Bono, who gave a keynote address on the first morning of the conference which was both compelling and a ‘low-tech’ contrast to such a high-tech event. And again, as ever, the standard of catering for conference delegates was reassuringly high.
Many of the ‘same old’ exhibitors graced the exhibition booths, offering their well-known wares. Nonetheless this was more of an issue for old stagers, like me, rather than for the majority of the visitors. Judging by the large attendances at the free seminars held at points around the exhibition floor – and the way in which any pearl of learning technology wisdom was seized upon eagerly – this year’s event seemed to have attracted a great many people who were new to learning technologies. Hopefully, this is a positive sign that learning technologies has become even more ‘mainstream’ within the learning and development function and that more people are finding that learning technologies are part of their job responsibilities.