#lt12ukAnother year, another train, another exhibition hall and yes, another trade conference. I was in London’s Olympia for the Learning Technologies and Learning and Skills 2012 Conference. Most ‘industry events’ act, at the most superficial level, as a kind of barometer: the level and enthusiasm of those in the hall can speak volumes, even if you don’t listen to the actual words.

Encouragingly, the event was packed: unless vast droves of the HR and L&D professions are fearing imminent redundancy and are taking any opportunity to network furiously, the implication is that learning has not fallen either from fashion or from organisational budgets. It would, however, be unwise to overlook the ‘jackdaw’ effect of technology. In the learning arena, this effect is arguably doubled – the possibilities of each new technology as a medium for learning (and for quite a wide range of present participles, come to think of it …) brings the possibility of fresh excitement to existing themes, while the possibility of delivering learning (and yes, that does make it sound like milk or groceries) to a large, geographically dispersed audience without travel costs, with fewer trainers and no travel budget understandably brings a rare glint to the usually steely eyes of budget holders.


On the eve of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, one industry at least is running at maximum capacity: the rumour mills are turning feverishly. Whether the world’s Cassandras see the future as driven by ideology or mathematics, the axe is coming and the crystal ball clearly predicts amputations. As with any amputation, however, the point should be to save the patient from worse, rather than disable them.

One of the rumours strongly indicates a major change to learning and development across Government departments, suggesting that an overwhelming majority of this will in future be delivered through e-learning. We’re not Luddites: we were delivering major programmes of web-based learning in 1998 (and took the trouble to include features such as hurdled assessments and online views of individual and cohort progress and analysis for tutors), and we make extensive use of webinars, multimedia and many other offspring from the ‘new media’ family in our current blended learning programmes.



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