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E-learning London – exhibition review


Elearning Exhibition and ConferenceE-learning London proved to be a busy event, justifying the move to a bigger venue this year. In spite of market uncertainties and the focussed nature of the show's subject, it kept buzzing for both days. E-learning providers can take comfort from this: although spending is currently restricted in many areas by the downturn, the place of e-learning in the corporate and SME market seems assured, and there is definitely a sense that a number of providers are bedding down. Several have increased their range of products to offer a full range of mainstream corporate products, which may be another indication that they are increasingly feeling established.

Familiar exhibitors included ebc, who were sponsors of the event again and maintained a strong presence, Axia CitizenConnect, who are involved in learndirect (also there), DigitalThink, Global Knowledge, unlimited, WeTeachYou, TATA Interactive Systems and Knowledge Solutions. First time exhibitors included e2train and IBM.

There has also been disillusionment and cynicism over e-learning this year, but some major players from outside the sector have seen the potential growth and have moved in, further underlining the conviction that there is real money to be made. As well as IBM, Orange, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Educational Services and Cisco were represented.

The keynote speech was by Reinhard Ziegler of Accenture, another major consultancy with a very well established client-base that is now looking to develop more into e-learning. Mr Ziegler summed up the development of the market: "Like the adoption of any major new technology, e-learning is following a fairly predictable path. In the beginning, leading edge companies initiate the trend, then regional adopters come along and finally there are the conservatives. I believe we are now moving into the 3rd phase, as the benefits and advantages of adopting these new technologies become obvious."

Some smaller international operations are also appearing. The American operation CAT*ASI are looking to develop in the assessment and reporting market in the UK. The Scandinavian group Kognita offer a platform that is pre-populated with content by many of the major providers, and are looking to expand on their experience in the safety training and tracking market particularly. Talking of international operations, the European Institute for E-learning (EIFEL) were there to put forward the case for international standards and an international membership association.

There were relatively few new technology products on show: the variety of the market seems to be more a matter of how you create, chop and serve content rather than major differences in the interface, but Impatica were showcasing products to flatten Powerpoint and Macromedia Director content and deliver it with no plug-ins required. Even this is more a transimission than an interface product, but given the patchy current state of bandwidth, it looked like a useful software solution, and drew a lot of attention.

The IT serminars were well subscribed, reflecting a clear practical interest in the integration of e-learning products with existing systems.


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