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Review of the Learning Technologies Exhibition, London Olympia


Review: Learning Technologies Exhibition
London Olympia, 1 February 2001

This years Learning Technology Exhibition was a two-day event held at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London. The focus of this event was to bring peoples attention to more effective ways of learning using internet technologies. In comparison with other exhibitions attended in the past, the whole event seemed a lot smaller and there did not appear to be any new initiatives or launches that could be reported as ‘breaking new ground’. Is this a sign that learning using internet technology as a method of training delivery and e-learning methodology has also lost all the media hype and over-attention that it has experienced over the last eighteen months? Let’s hope that like any new IT initiative, it has all settled down and like any learning solution, it can be placed in its appropriate place as a tool towards helping the delivery of cost-effective quality training, at the right time, at the right place and to the right audience.

One of the first stands to take my attention was the stand where they introduced their website and then brought on an entertainer to start bidding for IT Training courses online. These courses are late availability places made available from various training suppliers up for auction at a low price. I remain to be convinced as to the success of such a facility – however, I stand to be corrected. The question that sprung to mind was as to how such a service would be useful to a training programme if a company has gone through a structured training needs analysis. One of the requirements were that course attendees would be available to attend training within 1 to 10 days of booking the course. I also assumed that many of these courses would be pre-scheduled company courses that still had vacancies that they were looking to fill at short notice, so there would not be the element of tailoring to adapt a course to suit the needs of the attendee. The subject areas on offer to potential customers include applications, databases, Internet, mainframe, networking, operating systems, programming, software development, support and maintenance and telecom.

If however, there was the need for such training in short notice, then organisations could well benefit and save money on obtaining training courses through this online auction facility.

The Institute of IT Training stand was extremely well attended and Colin Steed, the Chief Executive stated that many people had shown interest in joining the Institute. Further details about joining the Institute can be obtained by visiting the Institute of IT Training website.

For those people interested in taking the headache out of organising a training event, there is an organisation called Training Exchange that offer the whole training process from booking the course, filling the places, administering and ensuring that the training rooms are fully equipped. Training Exchange were established in 1997 and the company representative stated that the company founders are themselves trainers so they know exactly what people’s requirements are. By pooling training resources they feel should reduce overall costs and thus provide any company a more cost-effective way of providing training. You can obtain further information by e-mailing Andrew Petri at

Spring had a large stand which appeared very busy and were exhibiting their Managed Service and bespoke e-learning facilities. Their managed service aims to help organisations fulfil key areas of training such as training delivery, third party management, associated administration, online booking, training needs analysis and planning and competency management.

Their e-learning programme allows clients to develop their own customised courses and assessments.

Spring IT Training is part of the Spring Group that specialise in the recruitment and training of IT professionals. They have four training centres based in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Andover.

THINQ state that they are well situated within the professional skills market to provide corporate learning solutions. In October 2000, THINQ formed an alliance with eLearnity, and also merged with TrainingServer LMS in the US. By completing these mergers they aim to create a scalable web-based learning management infrastructure that will help corporations with attaining their key business objectives with the necessary tools to help improve their human resources. Their stand certainly appeared to be one of the biggest and busiest of the show, offering people to wear their badges and if they happened to be noticed in the crowd with the Thinq badge on, they would have won fifty pounds on the spot. I wore four badges and still didn’t win!

At the KnowledgePool stand learning consultants were at hand to discuss training requirements and were one of the first companies to offer live, interactive online learning. They offer customised training programmes that can be tailored to suit clients’ specific requirements and aim to work in partnership with them to provide the most appropriate training delivery methods to ensure that consistent and effective training takes place. One of their aims is also to deliver online training that replicates the traditional classroom, so that students have access to online tutoring and mentoring, downloadable training materials and real chat forums. Since 1996 Knowledgepool have been named as Training Company of the Year four times by organisations such as Computing Magazine and the Institute of IT Training.

However, the most impressive stand for me must be the Centra stand demonstrating their infrastructure and ASP services for live elearning and business collaboration. Every centra product features voice-over-IP capabilities, shared workspace environment and intuitive user interface to enable live conversation and interaction over the internet.

Centras products include Centra Symposium for virtual classrooms, Centra Conference for web conferencing and events and Centra eMeeting for meetings and ad hoc team collaboration.

The last year has seen increased demand for Centra’s products and services worldwide. Centra has also established headquarters in the UK. Visitors to the stand were able to see the products demonstrated via a large flat screen and also video-conferencing with another work colleague live to see how easy the links were. Demonstrations of integration with other products such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint presentations allowing other people access at the same time to input their information whilst loaded via Centra Symposium certainly made the product very easy and encouraging to use. Any person can register for free on the website and up to five people can use the facilities at any time, however, numbers beyond five will need to pay for the services. The product certainly is worthwhile evaluating and many major organisations have adopted Centra solutions as their chosen product.

TrainingZONE met Anthony Mark, who is the President and Chief Operating Officer, and is based in the US is responsible for overseeing the company’s daily operations took time to explain the infrastructure of Centra software and future strategic direction that he envisages for Centra.

The whole of the show did not appear to be too large and within a few hours, it was possible to cover most of the stands, therefore one day was enough to research and obtain information that visitors attending this exhibition would expect to pick up. I must honestly state that nothing really jumped out as an exciting initiative other than the Centra stand, and surely this must be a good point, leading to the fact that the IT training market is calming down and stabilising with the range of training solutions that are on offer. This should result in many IT Trainers sleeping soundly in their beds maybe for the first time in eighteen months.

If you attended this exhibition and would like to add comments to areas of this event you found useful TrainingZONE would be interested to hear your thoughts.


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