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Learning Technologies 2012

The Learning Technologies show, now in its 12th year at Olympia, is once again a top-tier event with promises of thought-provoking sessions from stellar speakers such as Edward de Bono. But in the 12th year, it’s time to consider if ‘Learning Technologies’ is a true reflection of what UK plc and learners need? Are the wider technology changes and economic issues in the market place being discussed and inspiring solutions?

Learning Technologies - Recession Proof? It was very interesting to see scores of assessment companies underpinning the BETT how earlier this month. With packed exhibition booths, busy aisles and plenty of buyer interest, there are plenty of opportunities, despite the gloomy economic message we all hear. Learning Technologies is once again heavily subscribed, but is it representative of the full picture of learning and the market challenges?

Assessment Technologies – the only measure of learning When will assessment and all of its attendant services take their rightful place at events such as Learning Technologies? The only true validation of training is via assessment: from a formal exam through to a quick quiz, the measurement of a learner’s knowledge, understanding and application is bubbling up to being the acid test of learning.

Those of us at the sharp end of the learning technology industry know there are plenty of opportunities for new business and extending relationships with customers. However, there have been some seismic developments in Learning Technology over the last 12 months, notably the ‘race to the floor’ and commoditisation of technology solutions such as VLEs and game-changing learning technology produced from the consumer arena by companies such as Apple.

Increasing global use and access to the internet means that relevant learning content is becoming more commonly available and easily configured. Those companies who can leverage learning content to make it easy for learners to access and be assessed against, will be the winners.

Value shift: say hello to assessment The true value will be in the measurement of training and learning effectiveness. Increasingly, the investment is shifting to the notional ‘final mile’ of assessment, using e-Assessment. Mainstream publications such as the New York Times are waking up to the fact that Assessment Technology is already in-situ, delivering more accurate learning outcomes and liberating educators away from paper chasing to unlock their expertise and skills for the benefit of learners.

The advancement of open source technology will also ensure that the work of question writers, subject matter experts, verifiers, invigilators, etc., will rise quickly up the food chain of learning by shifting the resource focus away from issues regarding installation, configuration, compatibility and so-called ‘future-proofing’. Pressure from customers to transparently show the auditable results of learning and how much cash has been freed up will be the dominant theme, while we live in economically challenging times.

Show Me The Savings – incremental change, not revolution While there are plenty of organisations in the private and public sector with solid budgets and demanding goals to be achieved, learning technology providers have to sweat their assets and be innovative to win deals and be commercially robust.

Organisations will look at investing upfront to lower costs, but what cash can be returned/saved by the customer is the front page news story. Corporates want to protect shareholder value, government agencies want to be seen as paragons of virtue by giving (more than) their fair share back to the Exchequer, and not-for-profit organisations will face increasing scrutiny from stakeholders with a commercial outlook. As the ‘e-learning’ label dissolves into ‘learning’, the notion of using technology or e-Assessment for validation of learning will now take centre stage.


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