Saturday, 2 February 2008

Upbeat Learning Technologies 2008

I spent last week in London at Learning Technologies Exhibition and Conference. The general mood amongst the vendors and attendees I felt demonstrated a confidence in the future at odds with the wider economic gloom that the media and city types would have us believe. While the longer term impact of globalisation and an overstretched financial sector will clearly affect us all, I wonder if we might just see a change to the normal budget-slashing that the training industry usually suffers in a downturn.

The skills agenda appears to have genuinely captured attention at board level, while the role that technology can play to improve efficiency and effectiveness of training and development is now undeniable.

I delivered a seminar on my "Less Learning More Often" theme which attracted a good crowd and, I'm pleased to say, favourable responses. I am still surprised by the lack of awareness the training world has of even basic cognitive research. Just recognising the limitations of our short term memory, how easy it is to overload learners with too much extraneous content, and making appropriate use of a variety of media in our design solutions (whether for delivery in the classroom or through the screen).

Itiel Dror, Senior Lecturer, Cognitive Neuroscience at Southampton University delivered a great keynote in the Conference covering a similar theme using robust examples of how easy it is for our brains and memory systems to be misled and confused. These principles, if not taken into consideration in our learning design, work against us and result in much weaker learning outcomes. Itiel does well to grab attention - always helps when you have a real brain in a jar to pull out of your bag!

Here's to 2008 building on the successes of last year and a further growth in organisations demanding higher quality e-learning solutions.


Donald Clark said...

Welcome to blogland Lars. I agree with your sentiments on less learning more often, but I struggled to spot much that was new this year at LT.

Some good conference sessions but the vendors, and vendor stands, were rather predictable and dull. The same people seem to be circulating from one company to another on a sort of merry-go-round. It must be difficult to remember who is working for who!

Interestingly I attended an event run by ELSPA the next day and met a much younger set of people, saw presentations that were truly on the edge of what we're doing and participated in some excellent discussions. The challenge for us all is how to atract the next generation to events and to get them involved in shaping the future.

Keep on blogging - know you have lots to offer.

Lars Hyland said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Donald. I don't know why it's taken me so long to dive in, but I'm glad I have.

I would agree that there was little new at LT, but in many respects the wider market place is still waking up to recognising some of the basic benefits of using technology to support and re-design learning.

There's always an adoption time lag before things go mainstream - perhaps in 2008 we will see much more acceptance of the need to re-design whole portfolios of training courses so that they make use of technology to improve efficiency and most importantly, effectiveness.

I'd like to know more about the ELSPA event - do you have more to report?

"Attracting the next generation to events" - perhaps these events need to be very different from the stale formats that currently dominate?

And all those people on the merry-go-round - what with their advancing age (I'm not as old as you remember :-)) perhaps they should all hunker down for a few Brain Training sessions so they can remember where they work!