Returning to the Learning & Skills Exhibition for the second year, our areas of focus included gamification, augmented reality and mobile learning. We knew from experience that the conference provided access to a wide range of companies and industry leaders creating pioneering approaches to eLearning, both in business and education, so it was good to be able to speak to people in these fields to discuss practice and views. With over 230 exhibitors and 140 free seminars over 10 theatres, it was hard for two of us to cover everywhere, especially with over 6000 people buzzing around, but thankfully we managed to speak to the relevant stands covering our areas of interest.
Observing Dr Deeph Chana of Imperial College London talk of his work around gamification, it was interesting to find his theory and findings supported by own beliefs that gamification can be achieved by enabling users to solve problems and generate a sense of achievement rather than simply adding game like features such as sounds and imagery to content which isn’t actually teaching the user/student anything. In other words, Tetris [of Nintendo Game Boy fame] educates more than an immersive 3D world such as Second Life despite the latter appearing more ‘game-like.’ Other interesting points from Dr Chana included:
“Designing in a ‘game’ way is often associated with the concept of game components: points, rewards, competition.”
“However, more intrinsic rather than extrinsic features may be the key to understanding the utility of game-like applications/tools: problem solving, skills validation, team-play.”
Elsewhere, it was interesting to speak to Blackboard around MoodleRooms – a new collaboration between Blackboard and MoodleRooms aimed to leverage expertise to enhance the LMS experiences of Moodle, Angel LMS, Learn LMS, and Sakai. Using software tools like Blackboard xpLor (a repository of shared learning objects), for example, teachers from any of those LMS systems can search, create, share, and re-use the same learning objects across their different platforms. Interestingly, Fenturi, a world leading cloud based 3D virtual communications solution that seamlessly connects staff, customers and partners from around the globe in a collaborative 3D virtual environment using Unity 3D, collaborates with UK University’s to develop 3D medical environments amongst many others. An impressive stand and product which reaps the benefits of funding and collaboration with leading experts.
Finally, an alternative approach to eLearning came from David Schneider [of I’m Alan Partridge and The Day Today fame] who fronts (Comed)e-Learning, a component of e-Learning WMB aimed at integrating laughter and comedy into the eLearning experience – a pleasing approach which gets my vote for the more mundane of subjects – not sure the medical world would welcome this though…
To summarise, an enjoyable and informative visit to the capital despite the constant rain and absurd price of a pint.