Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Learning Technology - making the most of a learning opportunity

I sat last December eyeing up the conference line-up for this year's Learning Technologies , the UK's main commercial e-learning event and was drawing up a fantasy timetable.

Sadly, being a lowly freelancer with no-one to pick up the tab* for the eye-watering ticket cost, it was nothing more than day-dreaming, which was a real shame as the line up includes quite a few speakers that I'd like to see (how about Itiel Dror, Tony Buzan, or George Siemens?)

Still, never mind. Since I have the time I will still be going, to make the most of the some 50 free seminars that will be running over the two days. Any opportunity to learn from others in the business is good (and by extention I intend to share what I find with you).

The risk with these things, and I have been before to LT, is that they are thinly (and not so thinly) disguised 'advertorials' given by the various exhibitors at the stalls around the exhibition. A quick scan down the list reveal which to be wary of; for example, the first seminar in 'Theatre' 1 is detailed thus:

Have you ever come across two organisations that are exactly the same, with the same values and a common set of competences? We haven't. That is why we work with you to deliver customised online learning solutions.

This workshop will introduce you to some of the customised learning solutions we've created for clients over the past ten years and give insights into the direction that we believe learning is heading.

The first paragraph has all the hallmarks of having been taken out of the company's sales literature. The second sounds it would be the 'about us' part of a pitch presentation to new clients.

Others may be more neutral - it seems possible that a software company prompted the Royal Navy to tell us about how they are using PSPs, but it could be an interesting talk and I would hope the representative of HM's Armed Services will maintain a detached perspective.

This is not to knock the talks at all - it's good to see so many people willing to put in the time to give these talks and they have to be able to get something out it in return, or what's the point? But at the same time there is a distinction between a worthwhile presentation that reveals some kind of insight in to our business (and tells us about the comapny behind it) and enduring a 30 minute sales talk full of implausibly 'extreme' marketing jargon.

Thankfully, the various 'theatres' are open areas so I can always apply the Law of Two Feet and find another speaker. I'll report back what I find next week.

* If, however, you're an overseas organisation, keen to attend, but wary of overstepping your carbon footprint, I could be your proxy if you like! There's still time yet...
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