Conference shows how to walk the talk

Billed as Europe’s premier event on the subject, e-learning London has many
practical ideas on putting methods into action. Simon Kent takes a tour

According to Charles Jennings, training 10,000 global employees on a
compliance course would take more than eight years if delivered through
classroom-based training. The same outcome can be achieved in just six months
if e-learning is used.

Jennings is head of internal training and global learning at Reuters, and is
one of the speakers at the two-day e-learning London Exhibition and Conference
in June.

One of the main themes is a focus on the integration of e-learning into
company training programmes. The importance of such integration has increased
as the ability to accurately assess e-learning projects has improved. Jennings
is one of nearly 50 industry experts and practitioners who will be giving their
views and sharing their experience of e-learning during the two-day event. He
will be contributing to a Day One seminar on implementation entitled ‘Measuring
e-learning effectiveness and return on investment’ (12.35-13.50) alongside
Nigel Marsh, head of e-learning at Royal Mail.

Hot topic

Implementation is one of four over-arching themes featured in the conference
seminars. The other three themes are strategy; training and competence for
compliance; and content and design.

Every day there is also a free ‘hot topic’ session. For example, independent
consultant Nick Rushby will advise delegates on how to find their way through
the maze of industry standards on Day One (16.15-16.45) while training and
development manager Jean Whitehouse and project officer Simon Atkinson, both
from the Open University, will explore the concept of ‘learners as customers’
on Day Two (15.15-15.45).

Day Two also sees a free session dedicated to e-learning in the public
sector (11.30-12.45) in which Keith Whitburn, project manager at the National
Patient Safety Agency and Bob Murrock, e-learning consultant at the DWP Pension
Service, will discuss the value and practicalities of e-learning programmes
within the Government environment.

While the public sector session will no doubt stimulate great interest on
Day Two, the double session on training and competence for compliance will be
of most importance to delegates on Day One. Running from 13.30-14.45 and
15.15-16.30, the first session will address the importance of high- quality
content in achieving effective training compliance online, while e-auditing
will come under the spotlight in the second. Case studies will be used to
illustrate how e-learning systems can assess and prove compliance across a
workforce.

The issue of compliance is not simply the concern of the financial sector,
and the conference illustrates this clearly by taking case studies from
companies such as NTL Group, British Energy, Zurich and Royal & Sun
Alliance.

The opening address on each day is free to delegates and promises to give a
timely and comprehensive insight into current thinking on e-learning. The
conference opens with Dr Saul Carliner, US author of Designing e-Learning and
An Overview of Online Learning. Carliner has an international reputation and
has worked with companies including IBM, Microsoft and 3M.

Addressing the issue of fitting e-learning into the business as a whole
(10.10-10.55 on Day One), Carliner takes the view that without engaging
content, learners will not fully participate in an e-learning programme.
Consequently, without that full participation, companies will never achieve the
full return from their e-learning investment.

Quality and costs

Dr Betty Collis, Shell professor of networked learning at the Netherlands’
University of Twente, is the opening keynote speaker on Day Two (10.10-10.55).
She will draw on recent research across more than 2,000 companies carried out
to assess the effectiveness of e-learning. In her session ‘A new economy for
e-learning’, she will explain the indicators of quality and costs for
e-learning and discuss whether blended learning represents the way forward for
corporate training or is simply a predictable backlash against technology-based
training resources.

"We have found many companies have spent large sums creating
comprehensive technical platforms to deliver e-learning, but have not really
used the collaborative learning approach within that framework as yet,"
she says.

"We regard the e-learning medium as a tool at our disposal which should
be used alongside a variety of media to provide an integrated solution to
learner’s needs."

The strength of the conference lies in the fact that delegates will have the
chance to understand how current theories and cutting-edge approaches to
technology-based learning work in practice. Cherie Holland, e-learning manager
at Unilever, will be speaking on Day Two as part of a content and design
session on stimulating learning through virtual communities (14.45-16.00).

Echoing Dr Collis’ ideas on taking an integrated approach to learning, she
notes achieving truly blended learning in her organisation has even meant
paying attention to the terminology of training interventions.

"We use e-learning extensively for various course modules although we
are careful to avoid categorising our courses as ‘e-learning’, as usually only
one part of a course will be undertaken in a virtual environment," she
says.

She continues: "We have also found that where applicable, we can use
online communities to support and reinforce learning that is being
undertaken."

Challenges and rewards

Holland shares this session with two speakers from Sheffield Hallam
University – Paul Helm and Louise Thorpe of the Learning and Teaching
Institute, who will also explore the challenges and rewards of creating an
online learning community.

At a time when economic conditions are putting real pressure on companies to
maximise their performance and reduce costs, e-Learning London is the ideal
event to gain knowledge of the opportunities and challenges created by learning
technology.

There is unprecedented enthusiasm for the method and its ability to deliver
critical skills directly to the people who require them at a time and place
appropriate to their own unique circumstances.

There is also an amount of hype around the subject – assumptions that the
latest technology must be the most effective and that any implementation will
bring benefits to an organisation. E-Learning London offers a unique and
powerful blend of cutting edge views and case studies to help the training
function get the most from every new initiative.

Exhibition highlights

Balance Learning
(www.balancelearning.co.uk), the first dedicated blended learning publisher,
will be demonstrating its new software system to manage blended learning
programmes. The Dimension Manager enables trainers to survey student needs,
schedule and monitor the completion of e-learning, develop customised classroom
materials and plan and assess post course activities undertaken as part of a
Balance Learning programme.

ebc (www.ebc.co.uk) will be
showing its latest work in video, CD-Rom and internet/intranet-delivered
learning solutions. Producers of custom-built learning solutions, and capable
of helping organisations create online learning communities, the company’s
chief learning architect, Robin Hoyle will be chairing a strategy conference
seminar on training a sales force via e-learning. (Day Two,12.45-14.00).

Impatica Inc
(www.impatica.com) will demonstrate its range of desktop tools designed to give
subject matter experts the ability to create engaging online content
deliverable to Java-enabled computers without the need for additional plug-ins.
Impatica On Cue was launched in December 2001 and the exhibition will see the
showcasing of version 2.5. OnCue enables the production and delivery of
synchronised video together with PowerPoint presentations and offers features
including searchable text, dynamic indexing and navigation. Impatica also has
tools to enhance the delivery of material created in Macromedia Director.

Logicom (www.luk.net) has used
a leading games engine to power a unique interactive training environment. The
solution uses a CBT platform but goes further than simply replicating a virtual
world and can adjust to influences in ‘real time’. Users find the environment
engaging since they can learn through discovery. At the same time, all the
actions of trainees can be recorded, enabling the trainer to provide live
feedback or material for use at review. The technology can also give numerous
users access to a shared environment, opening up the possibility of team-based
learning.

Walkgrove (www.walkgrove.co.uk) is a one-stop shop
supplier of training materials. Offering bespoke solutions, the company offers
paper-based materials, CBT and online delivery methods according to the demands
and practices of their clients. The company won a Wolce Award for Blended
Solution of the Year 2002 and Bryan Hopkins, consultant with the company, will
be chairing the Content and Design conference session on DIYe-learning  – creating your own content.  (Day Two, 11.15-12.30).

– The exhibition also provides an
opportunity for delegates to improve their own personal networks and stay
involved with the ongoing debate and research in the field of e-learning. The
Forum for Technology in Training (www.forumtt.org.uk) seeks to improve the use
of technology-based learning through sharing experiences and ideas. The British
Association of Open Learning (www.boal.co.uk) will also be in attendance. This
organisation provides a cross-sector view of all methods of open learning, from
conventional distance learning techniques to the latest in e-learning practice.

e-Learning London

Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1

4 June 2003 – 10.00-17.00pm

5 June 2003 – 10.00-16.00pm

Getting there

Public transport recommended, although there are car parks on
site and approximately a 5-minute walk away.

Nearest tube: Angel (Northern Line, City Branch), also
12-minute walk from Highbury and Islington (Victoria Line)

Buses: 4, 30, 38, 43, 73, 171a & 214

Booking: 020 8394 5131

www.e-learningevent.com

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