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A vendor view of Learning Technologies 2017

I spent two days last week at the Learning Technologies 2017 exhibition, working on the LEO stand (below). This annual event is split over two floors, with a paid conference upstairs and free exhibition downstairs. The stand was really busy for both days and the whole team came away absolutely exhausted, but I did manage to wander around the exhibition looking to see what the trends were this year and seeking out interesting new products.

LEO stand at Learning Technologies

What was the vendor buzz this year?

Clearly, augmented reality and virtual reality are coming of age this year. VR has been around for decades but is only now entering the consumer market and becoming accessible to a wide audience. The devices and demos were a big draw on lots of Learning Technologies stands, with specialist VR and Simulations training vendors such as Preloaded, on the LEO/LTG stand, proving popular. Other non-specialist vendors were also getting in on the act with lower-end CardboardVR demos and giveaways. Most were also showing 360 video – it is funny to see that coming around again as it was all the rage when I started my career in interactive media 20 years ago.

Man using a VR headset

There was much less Artificial Intelligence (AI) hype than I expected, which was a surprise. On my last visit, two years ago, there were quite a few vendors boldly proclaiming how great their algorithms were. There was lots of AI talk upstairs at the conference apparently, though, but it was definitely a “watch this space” subject downstairs on the exhibition floor.

xAPI has been a growing presence for a few years now and was cementing it’s place in the scheme of things this year. Watershed had a stand for the first time and Rustici were in attendance via the LEO/LTG stand. There was an ‘xAPIgo’ game going on around the show where people were invited to try out xAPI based products from a range of 13 separate vendors from LMS, learning analytics, authoring tools and social platforms, with data all feeding into Watershed LRS on their stand. Clearly, xAPI continues to move from concept to adoption. An xAPI ‘barcamp’ event in the evening was also well attended for those wanting a more geeky xAPI conversation.

I won’t blab on about our own LTG/LEO stand – suffice to say, it was a pleasure working on it. The marketing team did a superb job of the stand design which had some kiosks showing a few “serious games” from both LEO and Preloaded teams, a VR/AR demo area which generated a lot of interest and kept the Preloaded team busy, an open area for general conversations and a semi-closed meeting space to get some peace and quiet for more in-depth conversations. It all certainly did the trick and we had some great conversations.

All in all, it was great to see what’s going on across the industry, meet old friends, make new ones and spend a few days with our colleagues from across the business and the world. And, of course, it was completely bloody knackering – my feet and voice were all but dead by the end of the two days.

Mark Aberdour is LEO’s Platform Solutions Manager. Read his recent blog, ‘Taking xAPI from aspiration to practice‘, for a closer look at xAPI.

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