I’ve had time to think on my experiences at the Learning Technologies 2009 Exhibition, and here are my reflections.
All in all I was disappointed, but really shouldn’t have been. I have only just realised I went to London with a rather blinkered approach; I was looking for answers and ideas. What I got were people and companies trying to sell their products without fully understanding (or trying to understand) the needs to the people stood in front of them.
Coming from the Academic world I am looking at eLearning from a totally different view point from someone in a commercial enterprise. The majority of technology on offer at Learning Technologies 2009 Exhibition would be brilliant at transferring a 3 hour Induction to Health & Safety in the work-place into a 30 minute ‘sit-at-your-desk-and-click-your-way-through-the-video-and-questions’, thus saving the company employee time, productivity and training costs (in the long run).
This is exactly what people like Pearson Vue and Epic were present for. I wish I was able to use sharper elbows to get myself into the Adobe ‘tent’ for their Connect Pro demonstration but, as per usual, they were so swamped with people watching their seminars I couldn’t get near them (and they need to turn the microphone’s up, no one could hear a thing).
What I wanted to see is not how to use eLearning, or how to set up Discussion and Blog sites for staff and/or learners to interact, but why we should be using these over other methods of communication, learning, etc. I spoke with a few exhibitors and they were more interested in what I was doing at Bournemouth University. But, and this is the real downside to this kind of event, as soon as they realised I had no control over the buying process they lost interest.
It wasn’t the event I hoped for. What we need now is one of these, very similar in everything but direction. An Event that is able to dig into the reasons behind the techniques, the reasons for using one element instead of another. I need to see people using it and reasoning why they used and how it worked / benefited the students / learners. I can easily find the people who sell the technology on Google and just be talking to colleagues and friends on Twitter and Facebook, but I want to know about developments in both technology and why we use it.
Too much to ask? To my mind, no it isn’t.