A rally call for e-learning

After broadening its agenda beyond open learning last year, the annual WOLCE
event is expanding even further

"The highest priority has been given to leadership and
sustainability," she says. "If you have a training system that relies
on human and physical resource [for example, books], you’ve now got to think
about digital resources, and the kinds of human resources you need to support
your trainee. Leaders need to understand this."

Making the most of e-learning in a blended approach will be picked up
elsewhere in conference sessions based on case studies and research conducted
by WOLCE into latest thinking and trends in training.

Jim Reilly, group sales manager for WOLCE, says: "Last year, everyone
was interested in the method of delivery. Now it’s, ‘how do I justify my
budget, how do I demonstrate return on investment and how do I gain board commitment
in what are tough economic times?’

"It seems to focus around being able to measure and prove that by doing
certain things you’ll get results.

"On the implementation side, people are confused with everything that
is available to them," he adds. "For example, they may have the most
wonderful e-learning package but no one’s using it because they don’t
understand it."

The conference also includes a free session on training for health and
safety, something Reilly describes as an ‘in vogue topic’ that stood out in
WOLCE’s research, and reflects changing legislation in the area.

Earlier this year, WOLCE bought the long-running Training Solutions exhibition.
It will now run alongside the conference, showcasing products and services from
across the industry – from instructor-led training and psychometrics, to
training hardware, accreditation and e-learning.

Last year, WOLCE drew nearly 3,000 visitors; now that Training Solutions is
also part of the package, the event is expected to draw at least 4,000.
Incorporating the exhibition is an attempt to make the event a "focal
point for the training industry" that creates a total picture of the training
world today, says Reilly.

"What we’re now offering is the chance for senior people with training
responsibility to source all their training needs under one roof, rather than
just a niche event looking at e-learning or traditional open learning
solutions," he explains.

Many exhibitors will be running free presentations, offering their company’s
take on particular conference sessions. There will also be free interactive
workshops on offer, which aim to put lessons learned from training sessions
directly into practice.

his year’s World of Learning Conference and Exhibition (WOLCE) kicks off
with a call from the Government to clarify the role of e-learning in the
training mix.

WOLCE has been running annually for 11 years, and focused on open, distance
and e-learning until 2002, when it was rebranded as a more generic learning
event, highlighting current activity in the world of training and industry
thinking on the future.

In her opening address at the conference on 18 November, Professor Diana
Laurillard, head of e-learning strategy for the Department for Education and
Skills, will outline the Government’s vision over the next decade with regard
to e-learning. Although there are unquestionable benefits to e-learning, she
says it remains misunderstood, expensive and out of reach for many.

"E-learning gives the learner the choice of what, where and how they
learn," says Laurillard. "It will probably take us a generation to
think it through.

"A cultural shift is taking place and a strategy is needed. First, we
need to understand what the vision is, and then the steps needed to achieve
it."

The strategy consultation document on e-learning encompasses education as
well as work-based and community-based training, and its aim is to identify key
areas of action around e-learning, says Laurillard.

"The highest priority has been given to leadership and
sustainability," she says. "If you have a training system that relies
on human and physical resource [for example, books], you’ve now got to think
about digital resources, and the kinds of human resources you need to support
your trainee. Leaders need to understand this."

Making the most of e-learning in a blended approach will be picked up
elsewhere in conference sessions based on case studies and research conducted
by WOLCE into latest thinking and trends in training.

Jim Reilly, group sales manager for WOLCE, says: "Last year, everyone
was interested in the method of delivery. Now it’s, ‘how do I justify my
budget, how do I demonstrate return on investment and how do I gain board
commitment in what are tough economic times?’

"It seems to focus around being able to measure and prove that by doing
certain things you’ll get results.

"On the implementation side, people are confused with everything that
is available to them," he adds. "For example, they may have the most
wonderful e-learning package but no one’s using it because they don’t
understand it."

The conference also includes a free session on training for health and
safety, something Reilly describes as an ‘in vogue topic’ that stood out in
WOLCE’s research, and reflects changing legislation in the area.

Earlier this year, WOLCE bought the long-running Training Solutions
exhibition. It will now run alongside the conference, showcasing products and
services from across the industry – from instructor-led training and
psychometrics, to training hardware, accreditation and e-learning.

Last year, WOLCE drew nearly 3,000 visitors; now that Training Solutions is
also part of the package, the event is expected to draw at least 4,000.
Incorporating the exhibition is an attempt to make the event a "focal
point for the training industry" that creates a total picture of the
training world today, says Reilly.

"What we’re now offering is the chance for senior people with training
responsibility to source all their training needs under one roof, rather than
just a niche event looking at e-learning or traditional open learning
solutions," he explains.

Many exhibitors will be running free presentations, offering their company’s
take on particular conference sessions. There will also be free interactive
workshops on offer, which aim to put lessons learned from training sessions
directly into practice.

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