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Learning Technologies 2024 Exhibition – Impressions

Most if not all of learning technologists’ work is online, and face to face interactions are a rarity for us. It seems ironic then to watch hundreds of techies crowding into a hall to talk to people face to face that we could communicate with more easily on Zoom and squint at demonstrations that would be clearer on the company’s website. But we love these things: they get you out of the (home) office, there’s lots of free food and drink, total strangers are really nice to you, and you get to play with lots of cool toys. It’s a kids’ birthday party for grown-up geeks. So naturally when we got the emails for the Learning Technologies 2024 Exhibition at ExCel in London, I was the first to ask my boss for a day off to visit.

As well as what you can learn from visiting stalls and attending seminars, the overall impression you get from a technology fair gives you a good snapshot of where the industry is at. Some things I noticed from just wandering around randomly …

  1. Moodle is big. OK, we Moodlers knew that, but seeing its physical manifestation really brought the point home. There was a kind of Moodle plaza in one corner for all the stalls related to Moodle in some way, and it really showed Moodle’s dominance. There were a few other LMS stalls, but the only one that looked like it had any potential was Blossom, an attractive bespoke system that seemed very user-friendly.
  2. Ai is everywhere. Again, I kind of knew that, but seeing it laid out in front of me still gave me future shock. It seemed every second stall was touting some new AI solution. And some of that AI was really, really good. We’re talking about avatars based on video footage of your human presenter that have got out of the uncanny valley and are on a Deepfake level.
  3. VR and AR are finally becoming useful. I spent an unhealthy amount of time in Second Life back when it was cool, and was so impressed by its educational potential that I set up an OpenSim server for our university, expecting academics to flock to my virtual campus. Not one came because educational VR was not an idea whose time had come; it was an idea whose time would come in a few decades. Now it seems that time is now, but I’m not talking about Second Life or Meta (which strikes me as Second Life with worse graphics) but about tailored educational VR and AR experiences. For example, I had a fun time navigating a virtual building site getting rid of hazardous materials, and even got vertigo when I stepped up to a drop.
  4. LT and HR are merging. The exhibition was sharing the hall with an HR technology fair, and I often wasn’t sure which part I was in. Learning technology as we know it started in higher education then filtered down as far as pre-school, but now it’s moving out into employee training in a big way, and I think this will be where most of the growth happens in the next few years.
  5. Physicality is still important. Even though everything on sale was virtual, it was the physical gimmicks that drew people in – a tangram puzzle, arcade machines. a physical game of Blackjack, people dressed as Star Wars characters, and of course lots of freebies. To be honest, those affected my choice of stall to browse more than the actual product on display.

As for the actual products, I’ll be reviewing a few over the next few posts.

Robin Turner
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Robin Turner

Until recently, EAP instructor and Moodle systems administrator at Bilkent University, Ankara, now Learning Technologist at the Global Banking School's London Greenford campus. Interested in educational technology and gamification/game-based learning.

One thought on “Learning Technologies 2024 Exhibition – Impressions

  • Anonymous

    Loved reading this post Robin – it really captures the enthusiasm you felt !
    As someone who has organised 10 Moodle Moot conferences (and attended probably another 40 events around the world) I totally agree that it’s all about fun, looking forward, interacting with people, and opening your mind to “what’s next”, and adding your own evaluation on top of the marketing hype.
    Looking forward to upcoming details of some of the specifics you found 🙂


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