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Online Learning 2002 Europe – Conference highlights


This review was contributed by Alastair Morrison, managing director of Strathmore Business Consulting Limited

Over two days the Online Learning 2002 Europe conference addressed the full gambit of online learning issues. The speaker panel provided an impressive breadth of research and case studies. An international perspective was generated with a total of 27 countries being represented.

A steady growith in the use of e-Learning was reported. IT skills training represents the largest area of use, followed by process/production skills and sales and marketing subjects.

The need to the focus on developing the capability of trainers in the development, use and support of e-Learning was highlighted by several speakers. Case studies demonstrated the returns available from making this key investment.

Detailed case studies were presented on a range of high profile projects. The University of Twente in the Netherlands achieved great success through introducing a blended learning solution that has led to the academic mould being broken and a radical change to teaching strategy across the entire university. At the national level Uni-C, the Danish national centre for ICT in Education, described how a country whose learning style is strongly classroom oriented changed to embrace the advantages offered by the integration of e-Learning. SAS Cargo discussed their innovative, simulation-led learning programme for leadership development that has delivered sustained behavioural change and positively impacted business performance and profitability.

A number of speakers focussed on pedagogical design, including Carol Strohecker of Media Lab Europe, who used the analogy of ‘intuition building’ toys, such as Etch-A-Sketch and Spirograph, to provide an intriguing insight into her research in the use of electronic media to both support people in maximising learning effectiveness.

e-Learning’s technology environment was fully explored, including authoring tools, learning management systems and mobile delivery devices.

An entertaining debate on learning objects considered disposability versus reusability. Methods and content creation tools that enable fast and economical production of educationally sound learning objects were argued as the keys to successful e-Learning deployment.

The educational and economic potential of virtual corporate universities was addressed by a number of organisations including the City & Guilds Institute, Cisco and IBM. The ability to reach the learner and to provide appropriate learning methods were highlighted as key benefits. IBM reported saving of $24 million in 2000 on a single management development programme.

A unique feature was the software simulation shootout. Authoring tools vendors competed on stage to demonstrate the ease of their systems in producing learning simulations to teach the use of IT applications. They each produced a small piece of learning material, demonstrated the finished product and then walked the audience through their development process. The audience voted for a ‘winner’, in this instance Global Knowledge.

In total the conference included more than 50 sessions, all of which contained practical guidance and tips based on real experience.

The conference was supported by an exposition featuring an international line-up of vendors offering a wide range of tools and services.


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