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Learning with Technology: My Take on LEARNTEC 2015

Ellen Schuurink / 04 February 2015

Learning with Technology

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the LEARNTEC 2015 in Germany. It is an international trade fair for learning with techology. As a Learning Innovation Manager, I was interested in seeing what the new trends and current developments are in technology-based learning.

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Of course there are always too many LMS suppliers and one always hopes for something spectacular, a-never-seen-this before experience. But as you know, the learning industry is quite conservative so the newest technologies are in the area of the oculus, eye and hand tracking and augmented reality. These examples are still very limited and sometimes hardly related to learning (play and gadget incentives). Remarkably, it seems we have passed the Google Glass hype, as I have not seen them…Here are some things I took away with me:

It’s All About Video

It was comforting to see the rise of video-based learning. As we have developed approximately 100 videos in 2014 at ITpreneurs. Learning without video does not seem possible anymore and the types of video-based learning is actually quite diverse:

Recorded Lecture

Tools to record and to process your video and slides and make publishing easy. Putting something you have in a new jacket.

Social Video

Learners can stop videos anytime and make comments at a specific section and reply to other comments, therefore social video learning.

Stop-Motion

One of the oldest video production style, but in combination with animation, the techniques are truly 2015 worthy (but very expensive).

Fast Drawings

The story is drawn while you are listening to it. These fast drawing techniques are gaining popularity and are considered (when done well) as effective educational tools – strongly related to microlearning.

At the exhibit I found a lot of companies who offer full-production of video-based content, but every now and then I would come across booths that offered tools that would enable you to develop your own cool movies. One company in particular, was showcasing a video box that ‘contains everything you need to record your training session’ (one camera that records both the presenter and the slide deck then combines both into one video). With an assistant, you can have your video ready by the time the course is over. However, I doubt if this is the perfect solution. Although it depends on what you are looking for, we see that the “better” recorded lectures use three camera angles and are edited to make the video dynamic, interesting and logical.

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Translated: We develop eLearning from PowerPoint

Why We Should Forget About PowerPoint

I question the relationship that the training industry has with PowerPoint. Is seems we cannot deliver ANY training (classroom, virtual classroom, eLearning) without the use of PowerPoint. Luckily, with the growing popularity of videos and microlearning techniques, it is no longer necessary to rely solely on PowerPoint to deliver trainings. Learning needs to be interactive, irrespective of delivery methods. Instructors need to be enabled to tell good stories to help students retain knowledge. You might have already heard that ITpreneurs is also replacing PowerPoint with the new presentation pack that has visual guidelines, marker tools, and an index for quick browsing (just to name a few), helping instructors in delivering the great courses.

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Visual Learning

Besides the videos, visual learning is also considered as an important aspect in learning. I noticed there were a couple of suppliers that develop interactive, complex illustrations, like the popular “Where’s Wally?” books (known in the United States and Canada as Where’s Waldo?). These illustrations took me back to my childhood, where I found immense pleasure in visual children’s books that had multiple storylines on one page: a women loses her hat due to the wind, a cat is stuck in the tree, a kid falling in a pool of mud, a group of tourists with umbrellas…. These types of illustrations are now made interactive for professional learning. While clicking on certain areas you will get more information about that particular event.

Gaming and Simulations

Gaming was represented at bit differently at LEARNTEC this year. A few years ago you were considered out-dated if you did not have gaming on your flyer, booth or business card. This year however, gaming appears to be a lot more integrated in the learning tools and it seems that simulations are only developed in specific cases, for example in the manufacturing area (assembly-line, engineering). In that latter example, we see simulations in the physical form of robots and in rich virtual environments. A big improvement in the virtual environments is that the smart ones now use “plugin-free” solutions, so company firewalls or security policies are not a bottleneck any more for installing and learning.

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Virtual Classroom Here We Come!

Definitely not new, but with the rise of blended learning, we see growing adoption of the virtual classroom. For those who don’t know: the virtual classroom (VCL) is an online environment where learners and instructors meet (synchronous) and attend a course / lecture like a regular course. Although we see strong regional adoption (most popular in the US), I do believe the new virtual classrooms have the potential to grow globally for several reasons:

  • Better streaming of videos (simultaneous watching and independent on the Internet connection of the learners
  • Control of the screen can be shared and controlled by anyone (participants and instructor)
  • Remote control, where participants can work on the instructor’s computer (as seen with remote desktop support).

Will I Go Again Next Year?

Visiting these types of conferences keeps you up-to-date and with some luck get inspired! I did wonder how eye-tracking can support a learner while reading their eBook… Back to the conference: LEARNTEC was very German-oriented (all free seminars are in German) that said, you wouldn’t have trouble getting what you need in English. I also attended the Learning Technologies Trade Fair in London last year and I noticed only a hand-full of vendors that were at both conferences. I’m under the impression that every country has their own expertise and trends, so might be good to broaden my horizon and look elsewhere next year. Suggestions are welcome…

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