Speaking.  The Final Frontier of E-learning.  These are the voyages of me.  My five year  (okay, as many years) mission is to speak at as many shows as possible throughout the world. .  To explore new cities. To seek out new attendees. To boldly go where no e-learning speaker from Los Angeles in the last few years has presented at…

Wheeee Wheee..  (Feel free to make your own wheee sound)

E-Learning Date. 12-5 and 12-6-2014.

Log Entry:  Online Educa Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Weather: Cold. What you expected heat wave?

Beep..Beep..Beep

OEB 2014 Review

Well, that was fun.  It actually sounded better in my brain. Then again, the idea of spending ungodly amount of euros for Coca-Cola at my hotel, seemed like a good idea too.  And yes, yes it was.

For those of uninitiated, Online Educa Berlin, is an e-learning conference geared towards higher education and with some corporate.  If you are an e-learning vendor in the higher education space and doing or planning on doing business in Europe, this is the place to be.

This was the 20th anniversary of OEB.

Great

  • Organized.  You may say, wait – organized is great.  Absolutely. This is one of the few shows where organization, planning and other stuff is top notch (WOLC is another).
  • Booths.  There was a very good amount of vendors at the show.  The top three LMSs in Higher Education (Blackboard, Brightcove (D2L) and Instructure) were in attendance and a new entrant into Higher Education, Growth Engineering also made an appearance.  As noted in an earlier post, Growth is launching a higher education version of their gamification LMS, with feature sets specifically for the HE industry.

There was quite a few assessment vendors, plagerisim detection vendors (three), e-learning tools, custom content developers but more along the lines of building games and gamification, other gamification like vendors,  screen recording/video capturing vendors – as in those for live presentations and ideally used for MOOCs. 

Additionally, there were the usual number of what are you doing at an e-learning show vendors and a smattering of universities offering online courses.

You know who I didn’t see?  Authoring Tool vendors – okay TechSmith and a couple of ones  that were not really asynchronous based authoring tools. 

It was odd that no other authoring tool vendors were there – because I mean clearly no one in HE uses them (not). 

In one of my sessions, I asked if any one used a third party authoring tool.  Many hands were raised and since 3rd party authoring tools output asynchronous based courses, it is clear to me, there is a high interest in asynch and not just synchronous based.

  • Quality of sessions.  Overall, topics were sound – at least the ones I pinged into.  As for myself, both sessions were packed (one was a pre-conference).  In fact, the regular session was so packed, that they turned away more than 50 people on top of that.
  • Planned events.  Generally speaking strong. They had an event going back to the 1920’s – Charleston anyone?

Average

  • Mobile App.  It had so much promise, but it also had some issues.  Apparently for some people, when they posted tweets in the app, it didn’t appear on Twitter (I did not have that issue). My issue, was that after one day of using the app, every time I tried to get in, it bounced me out.
  • Wi-Fi.  It was better than many conferences, but as with Wi-Fi, you still had some drop spots.  Can’t blame OEB, totally the venue here, but when it did work (90%) of the time, it was fast.
  • Food.  Well organized, but for a person who cannot have dairy, there was only day you could eat something.  Then again, last year there were ZERO days. So this is an improvement.
  • Stuff for folks at booths.  Pens. Lots of pens.  Although huge kudos to Brightcove for having stuffed mini teddy bears and moose toys. My dogs enjoyed munching on them.

Poor

  • One row of booths that were right next to the smoking lounge (glass enclosed mind you).  The smoke smell from that was so bad, you couldn’t really walk down the aisle.  In fact, walking horizontal past that row, around a few booths on the horizontal pathway was challenging.  If you were smoke sensitive, there is no way you would go down to check out those booths.  Even if you were not that smoke sensitive, it would be difficult.  Way to solve it?  Have the smokers go outside the hotel, rather than use the glass enclosed lounge, which was open to the weather elements.

Booth Time.. Booth Time..

 As noted earlier, there were a nice set of booths at the show and as such, there were a couple that stood out with cool products and one that stood out for “why are you even here”. 

Why are you here?

I was going to show the photo of the booth and the amazing note that was left on the table in the booth, but then, they don’t deserve the free press for it.  The vendor shall be nameless – again, they do not deserve to have their name mentioned. They had no one there in the booth, just a note which let people know:

  • No one was there or going to be there
  • To pick either a pen or stylus (I surmise people took both)
  • There was a business card to take – plenty where still there when I walked by at the end of the day
  • Web site address and 30 day trial

Oh and they had prime booth location.

Interesting Products

Speexx

They are very popular in Europe and the product I was interested in was their “learn a language” offering.  They seem to focus more on the usage of business language and lingo rather than having you learn how to find a restaurant or where is the bathroom.  I should note, that I will be doing a product review here in the next two months, as I try to learn German.

Highlights include

  • Online product where you take an initial assessment to find strengths, weaknesses, etc. – then it identifies what you need to improve upon or learn
  • Able to talk into the computer and thus program and have it tie into the correct pronunciations
  • Option to have one on one coaching/tutor sessions via the product (this is an extra cost)
  • Can use any headset with a mic
  • A nice set of languages to select from

I liked that it focused on business language, rather than just how to do basic conversation or even intermediate. I mean if I want to know how to locate a taxi, then I would use Fluent (great product, but CD) or Rosetta Stone (online and CD).

xAPI.com

The offering is essentially Tin Can (xAPI), but also includes a Learning Record Store and a personal data locker (place to put your data record for security/privacy).  It can be a standalone offering or go into a LMS.  That said, it definitely appeared that they were trying to push it as a standalone.

Unplag

A newcomer to the plagiarism detection industry. I liked what I saw, but they were in the heavy smoke area, so I wasn’t able to stay long.  Too bad.

Growth Engineering

Has to be included, because of a few key points.

  • #1 LMS for 2015 (surprise!) – gamification wrapped around strong feature set includes many of my next tier gamification feature sets including built-in badge library
  • Working on a built-in gamification authoring tool (which also will be available as a standalone offering)
  • Mobile to be launched shortly – includes on/off synch app for iOS and Android
  • E-Commerce coming in Jan.
  • Creating a separate edition targeting Higher Education, with HE specific feature sets
  • More of its power, capabilities, etc. – in my Top 10 for 2015 blog which will appear week of Jan 20th, the same week, my Top 50 LMS rankings report is available for purchase

Online Educa Berlin 2014 Product of the Show

MITV – Media Interactive

Let’s take a look at a couple of screens via my iPhone (thus excuse for blurry view)

photo (5)

 photo (6)mitv

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The solution is ideal for Corporate and can be used for higher education and K-12.

Highlights

  • Cool Product – I enjoyed checking it out and seeing what it can do – and boy it can do a lot
  • Has areas for video, webcasts (live and archived/recorded), streaming video, audio
  • Can leave comments, create and publish surveys/polls, evaluate and monitor attendance, transcripts
  • Includes a video conferencing tool
  • Real time refresh – which means you do not have to click refresh to see the latest files, content, etc. – I liked that
  • Can upload other files, like documents, PDFs and as you noticed have links including RSS feeds
  • In any of the videos, you will see bookmarks (Cuepoints), so someone can jump to each bookmark; you can also share the clips or video
  • Everything has analytics tied to it (sweet)
  • Slick UI
  • Ability to add HTML5 content including games
  • Shows the stats under each area, specifically the number of times it has been viewed (or read). This is great for learners to see, what is popular and not (of course, you too, but you also have more stats on the back end)
  • Can create presentations
  • Can use the offering as one giant or multiple MOOCs or SPOCs
  • Ability to add e-commerce to any of the blocks of content – another sweet feature..
  • If you are in HE or K-12, the solution can easily become a flipped classroom
  • Has a few gamification features

What it is not

  • It is not a LMS, sure you can use it anyway you want, but it is not a replacement for one
  • Does not have a mobile app, but the offering is mobile responsive. My gut tells me they will build a mobile app at some point in 2015.
  • Lacks compliance standards

Absolutely cutting edge product from a company based in Slovenia.  This is just the first iteration, so thinking what is possible – when something that debuts looks as good as this does – makes my mouth water. Or maybe it was the too tart lemonade.

Seriously though, it is an outstanding offering and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.   This just reinforces what I always say about e-learning products, there are a lot of really awesome ones out there, they just need to be seen.

Well, check it out and see for yourself.

Disappointing

Turnitin.  Shocked that I had never heard of them.  I had, but I wanted to see their faces when I acted as though I had not.  Their main competitor had some stats thing, which rated themselves the highest with some point total of like 94, followed by Turnitin with like 87.  Of course, if you looked at the very bottom of the chart, you would see the particulars which doesn’t make it as impressive as you might think. 

Anyway, when I asked someone at Turnitin about it, they first started off telling me that these guys were friends, then immediately went in to tell me that the chart was based on one paper written by some professor in Germany and blah blah blah.

Of course, Turnitin had their own marketing materials too, one of which said they were in 120 out of 200 universities, making it the most universities by a plagiarism detection software.

And yep, look at the small print, data from 2012.  They quickly let me know that they are now in more than 140 or so, but I don’t know, wouldn’t you get that into your marketing materials?  Anyway booth was cool and they did show me the product, where their competitor did not – but they had an awesome espresso machine.

The end of MOOCs?

One of the sessions I was in, was a blogger session which included Stephen Downes, a foremost expert on OER (Open Educational Resources). Stephen is really a sharp guy and in my opinion is one of the very few folks who has a finger on the pulse of OER, including MOOCs.

One of the questions someone asked related to MOOCs and Stephen responded that he thought it was the end of MOOCs, which the next iteration coming out.  I took this to mean SPOCS (Small Private Online Classes), and I concur. But to see the folks faces when he said the end of MOOCs, was worth it.  

SPOCS have slowly been making there way through, and basically it is taking the MOOC and moving away from massively online to specific, as in.. narrowing down the audience specifically for that course.

Which in turn, I think is the premise of having more people complete it, since they will be more interested. 

As to how to select these folks? Well, from what I have been reading, it will be done through some type of application or some other obtuse mechanism.  As one article I read pointed out, somewhere in the future it is quite likely that fees associated to each course will slowly appear – as it becomes more and more specialized.  That makes sense.  Right now, though it is free.

So enjoy it.

Bottom Line

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at OEB and from what I saw, a lot of attendees did too.  The conference was better than last year, which says something, because it was good last year too.  I’d love to see them include a couple of networking events, beyond the one they had, whereas attendees could sign up for places to eat and connect that way. 

I’d also like to see them have geolocation in their mobile app (for smartphones), and create an app specifically for tablets, with additional capabilities, but hey I always want more cool things.

Lastly, I’d like to have more interactive things to do at the show to show people what is possible and get them even more engaged.

Could it be done?  Absolutely.

Should it be done? Absolutely.

Why?

Because E-Learning is the final frontier

of Learning.

E-Learning 24/7

Bonus:  This was at my hotel. I love the “do not disturb, unless we want to disturb you”.  They should win marketing awards for it.

photo (3)