Now that we are back to our weekly blog posts (okay, starting this week), it is time to catch up. Here is my report from World of Learning Conference (where I was presenting in Birmingham, UK).

WOLC

World of Learning Conference continues to deliver winning results. Why LMS vendors and authoring tool ones for that matter, do not come in droves to this conference is mystifying to me. 

Each time I attend there are a lot of decision makers rumbling around seeking out vendors, wanting to start communication and scheduling demos, meetings, etc.   Sure there were some LMS vendors there, but sheesh, there should have been a lot more.  And authoring tool vendors?  Please.

GREAT

  • Everything including the seminars that were on the floor – as in the rooms that were enclosed and sound-proof were next to the expo floor.  The fringe sessions were on the floor but in separate areas away from say, the sessions where folks do their stuff right next to other vendors trying to pitch. 
  • Recycle bins – Makes sense, yet again, been to shows that do not include them
  • Relatively easy to find booths and stuff.  There was a slight confusing piece, but overall the floor was simple and spaced enough to move around without feeling like a squished sardine.

I do find this as important.  It is hard enough finding the vendors whom you want to talk to or look at their booths. 

Toss in lots of humans doing the same thing it can get taxing. Add poor space design and it gets worse. Especially, when you have dunderheads who stop in the middle of the rows to start a conversation as though they are the only ones there. 

There are other shows, ATD comes to my mind right away that does a good job of row spacing. Learning Tech in the UK does an awful job. 

  • Free food – sandwiches and stuff.  I didn’t have any but it was there.  Oh, they had soy milk for us lactose intolerant folks – they are the first show I have been to in my 15 plus years attending shows around the world. to have soy milk.  No joke.  
  • Staff friendly and helpful.  Never saw anyone with a scowl on their face.  That is important in my book.
  • The show – it was great.  Shout out to Tracy Shah and her staff – well done!

AVERAGE

  • The location.  The NEC where the event is held is massive.  The train station and airport are connected to it.  And the show is like at the far end of it.  Getting there was simple and easy with the shuttle buses and moving around the floor, etc. – easy.  But G-D forbid you have to catch the train.  If you are a marathon walker, then the time to get there would be ideal for you.  NEC needs shuttle carts to take you to the train station.  Just saying. 
  • Freebies from the vendors.  Come on, admit, you look for freebies just like me.  Anyway, pens seemed to be the common item.  I honestly cannot recall a vendor who had a good giveaway. Not one. Maybe there was some one out there, but I didn’t even see any giveaways.  On the plus side, there wasn’t that dumb BINGO thing folks walk around and get vendors to stamp (some of which just leave the stamp there) for a shot at winning something.  For those who don’t win – free spam for a year!

On the plus side, there wasn’t that dumb BINGO thing folks walk around and get vendors to stamp (some of which just leave the stamp there) for a shot at winning something.  For those who don’t win – free spam for a year!

POOR

  • No geolocation in the mobile app.  Yes, I know that no one does this – regarding conferences and trade shows, but I’m going to continue griping about it, until someone does. 
  • Speaking of the app, could have offered a lot more cool features than it had. Again, this is a universal problem for any conference that has a mobile app.  I’m going to have a sit-in at my office in my chair until one day someone does this – uh, I will be only sitting while I am working. Then just like Congress, I will get up and leave. Zing!
  • No mini guide.  I’d love to see something short and tight that I could refer to, rather than the book. 
  • The numbers of rows.  Some numbers went horizontal, others were vertical.  It was confusing to find some folks.  Stick with simple, just go vertical, with a book banner for each column (100,200, etc.)

Again, vendors do not do this – in terms of a short, tight quick reference card if you will.  Which is funny, since the folks attending are training, L&D people, with some HR.  L&D, training people create QRCs all the time.

The Floor – Vendor wise

  • Two vendors selling game board learning (yes, gameboards as in boards like LIFE and other stuff).  Who plays these games anyway?  I can’t see the thrill of bringing in a board game to my training – hey everyone grab a plastic mini figure thing and let’s play “Performance – Who rules.”
  • Learning Heroes – They make a cool few products – they are a content/course creator. I saw this paper based thing with video inside of it, so you could click “various channels” and go to different videos.  I thought that was cool.  And by the way, eLearning Brothers should be worried when it comes to shtick at trade shows – why?

Learning heroes were wearing yellow capes and had blue eye covering masks.  Then, get this – they did a flash mob to some song about heroes, which I forgot already.  Not really a flash mob per se, but they did start the routine on the floor and it included a person in the air held up by a team member.  

When it was done, they stood there. So, yeah, probably not a flash mob in the true sense of the words, but hey, definitely outstanding.  Worth at least a couple of coins.

For folks who have never attended a show where eLearning Brothers are at – they wear orange shirts – lots of people in their booth – okay all of them wear orange shirts.  Well, E-Learning Heroes had a guy dressed up in a muscle superhero costume.  Well, played sir. Well, played.

Back to the stuff

  • Custom content providers – including quite a few video development for courses
  • Video learning products – From creating a video with zero skills required and can be done anywhere to a video learning platform (even though the vendor themselves didn’t know what that was, ok… ugh), to Video micro-learning courses – already created and ready for your system today!  And they will toss in a toaster to close the deal (just kidding, they won’t).
  • A robot, that was cool. Full human size can move around, includes some sayings, talk, dance and ideal for those who want someone (robot) to start off an event.  The cost includes the robot, two folks, and their equipment.  Fees surprisingly started low – at about 1,000 GBP.  Perfect deal IMO, especially since the pound is taking a beating!
  • Game based learning –  I saw a really nifty product, which was the games and a platform with them.  They offer customizers for the avatar like things, and what I enjoyed most was the games went beyond just a learning journey (yawn!).
  • Neuroscience offerings –  Yes, I have a brain. No, I do not care how it works when it comes to learning. It just does.
  • Totara business partners.  I never understand why there are business partners at the show, especially when the vendor themselves are at a show.  It is like competing against yourself.  Totara – the vendor itself, was not at the show, but a couple of biz partners were.  Strange.
  • Other – as usual there were vendors at the show, who you honestly couldn’t figure out what they were selling because they got too cute with their marketing in their booths.
  • Two vendors were about team building; there may have been a couple of more, but the two I’m thinking about had booths that stood out – one was a red bus – so many people were using it as a landmark to find other folks.  I have had one of their sessions – fantastic.   The other had a rock climbing wall with a fake tree thing.  That was nifty.  People at the show could do rock climbing. I declined due to my free soda I was walking around with – hey free is not easy to come by.

The Winners

There were some vendors whose products stood out to me.  After I announce the nominees, the winner. 

Nominees (drum roll..)

  • Robot by Robotforhire. Already talked about it above.  They are available around the world, but they tend to be used in the UK and Europe.
  • Learning Heroes – While I didn’t understand why their “Netflix” comparison marketing sign was on the floor pressed up against their back wall, and they didn’t have any video screens going on, still compelling offering(s).
  • Applio – The game-based learning product.  They offer out of the box – product – where you add your content.  They can also do custom (bespoke) too. 

And the winner is

Applio – Congrats!  Congrats!  Now they never actually pronounced their name to me, so it could be APP-LEE-O (which is how I would enunciate it), or something else.  I hope it is the former, because well, I just did.

Fun Final Facts or not so fun, you choose!

  • Surprised at the number of LMS vendors who did not have a demo screen or a screen showing their product or anything like that.  I can’t recall seeing one that did.  And there were vendors at the show including Litmos, Fuse Universal, Administrate, LearnUpon.   Yes, Training Orchestra was there – but I’m not a fan of their product.  And a few others, who I saw and was underwhelmed.  
  • One LMS vendor who shall not be named is reportedly on the market – privately seeking to be acquired. And yet, they were pitching their offering to potential customers. 
  • Surprised at the number of vendors who did not list their website (including link) in the online WOLC exhibitors catalog.  No offense here, but how do you expect people to find you?  In the yellow pages?  I got the yellow pages book a while back.  I remember when people used it to find products, service providers, etc. – I smiled. Then I tossed it in my recycle bin.    

Bottom Line

Overall, WOLC is a fantastic conference.  I always enjoy speaking there and attending the show.

If you are around the UK next year or planning on being,

Attend WOLC.

Just be on the lookout for “successful show.”

You’ll find it.

In Birmingham.

England that is.

E-Learning 24/7

Next week: My final Top 10 Authoring Tools for 2016 (grab your kazoos)