I have had a stimulating, bustling, informative, conversation-filled and inspiring two days this week at the 2017 Learning Technologies event at Olympia, London.
I was fully engaged just by participating in the exhibition and a number of the free sessions. The exhibitors focus primarily on the use of technology to support learning, so it is a great place to go if you want to see lots of examples of Learning Management Systems (LMS) or e-learning all in the one place. But the use of technology in learning is now much more varied, engaging and sophisticated than traditional e-learning – so there were examples of video use, all sorts of resource based content providers, platforms to support curation of your own and others materials, tools to build MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses or their in-house cousins), systems to enable personalisation of learning using algorithms, systems to making learning analytics possible, demonstrations of the use of VR (virtual reality) to support learning and more. Wow!
I focused my attentions on learning more about the use of VR to support learning, participating in a couple of the free sessions providers by exhibitors working with VR and then also visiting stands with an emphasis on the use of VR.
An important part of the event experience is the chance to talk with people, whether that is familiar faces – in my case this included previous MOL students, including one on a stand - or to meet people for the first time. It was lovely to speak face to face for the first time with the facilitator of the MOOC I completed over the course of the last year. I also took part in #barcamp which was a fringe event organised by Martin Couzins, taking place in a nearby bar the first evening, which gave the opportunity to talk in small groups of 8 with a selection of experts.
If you are a first time visitor the event can seem a little over-whelming, so it makes sense to plan your visit carefully, both in terms of which sessions you want to attend and which exhibitors you definitely want to visit. But allow yourself time to also browse and explore serendipitously and for chance encounters and conversations.