East London, at the conference and business centre of Excel, was surprisingly busy over the last two days. A potentially dry subject of learning technologies attracted an amazing number of exhibitors, who all must see this as a positive business opportunity, with an amazing sea of visitors. Companies offering a variety of services from assisting with developing courses, with or without AI and virtual reality, to others who would eliminate in-house training departments and replace them with self-managed learning (spookily with on-line records that management could track). Encouraging, at a time when the country seems to be stuck in Brexit-stasis, the focus was very much on increased productivity and on responding to the new working methods of the Millennials, who are an increasingly proportion of the working populations and bring new and different ideas to the world of work.
Judging by the seminars, many of whicb were over-subscribed with standing room only, there is a huge appetite in the commercial world for enhanced, managed, learning technologies, particularly in organisations which are spread around the UK or scattered across the winds of the globe, tempered with a recognition that organisations must not forget about the fact the are communities of people.
Books had a split personality – there were some physical ones here (generally quite small in nature) contrasting with access to hundreds of thousands of books on-line, while Wiley are hedging their bets – they will no doubt be back with the London Book Fair in a month’s time.
But, you may ask, where are the universities, colleges and other traditional teaching and learning institutions? Sadly, they were notable in their absence: the only university I spotted was the Ashridge Business School, the Executive Education branch of the international-based Hult Business School. It looks like they have a long way to go in order to catch up and also to address the crucial question of why would someone go to university, rather than enter the digital training world at work.
Much of much is about the social and academic-community interaction, but do universities need to embrace the new technologies for basic teaching and learning and blend this together with their unique links with the latest research and with the advantage of social interaction that a university degree brings
And, at the end of the day, don’t forget learning is about people…..