Is technology dictating rather than supporting an effective educational process? These views will be debated at the forthcoming World Open Learning Conference and Exhibition. We take a sneak preview of this influential event. By Simon Kent
Now in its seventh year, the World Open Learning Conference and Exhibition 2000 (WOLCE) organised by Venture Marketing Group, is aiming to be the epicentre for contemporary practice and debate in open learning products and services.
The conference, sponsored by Saba and supported by the British Association for Open Learning (BAOL) and the Forum for Technology in Training, as well as Training’s sister title Personnel Today, has earned a great reputation over its relatively short lifespan, and this year has attracted speakers and companies at the forefront of the training revolution.
Last year’s conference was attended by 3,000 visitors and delegates, 19 per cent of whom were company chairmen or directors, 46 per cent senior managers and 27 per cent responsible for training budgets of over £500,000.
It is easy to understand why the event has this kind of pulling power. “Open learning is becoming the most important issue in the world,” says Dr Ronnie Singer. “It could even be more influential than the Internet itself.”
Singer is one of the speakers contributing to the Online in Action session on day two of the conference. As a learning and multimedia specialist from BusinessLab in Aberdeen, he has a unique view as to the future of open learning and in particular how corporate learning will develop in the future.
“Today’s organisations face the same problem,” he says. “They want to retrain their employees, but they need to do that without the cost of sending them to university. In addition, many universities do not supply the skills organisations need, so the only logical step to take is to set up a corporate university with in-house training programmes.”
Dr Singer feels such learning provision is now challenging the status quo of traditional education centres. While the public sector continues to face cutbacks, the corporate sector is able to finance cutting-edge vocational and strategic learning facilities. “Corporate learning w