7 Best virtual elearning events – The show must go on

(Some of the recurrent elearning events may not feature in this article solely due to the uncertainty around whether they’ll be going ahead – virtually or otherwise – at the time of publishing. For regular updates on events and a great variety of other elearning industry news, follow us on Twitter: @_wearesponge_ )

Discovering the top virtual elearning events is integral for L&D professionals – they’re indispensable opportunities to propel learning and the dynamic use of technology for any corporate setting.

We’ve already covered a range of the top elearning conferences in 2019, plus those that have already taken place in 2020. Now’s the perfect time to see what other elearning conferences in 2020 are still to be held, plus which online events you should be putting in your diary for the start of next year.

Virtual events – a (positive) sign of the times

We’re operating in an unprecedented time of change. COVID-19 has had an impact on all corners of society – personal, cultural, educational, and economical; and being versatile has become a skill for survival.

This is clearly evident in the business world – where the difference between sinking and swimming has often come down to the question, ‘how can we adapt to continue to operate in this new and unpredictable landscape?’ And few areas of business have been hit harder than events, mainly due to what we thought was a necessity of the industry – gathering and mingling in large groups.

But advances in video communications such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and the like have comprehensively answered the question many have pondered up and down the land for quite some time – ‘can businesses and employees successfully learn and work remotely?’ These platforms have provided lifelines for otherwise near-impossible practices.

Do virtual events work?

It may seem a bit alien at first, sitting at your home desk instead of literally rubbing shoulders with peers. But we’ve already seen how many events – including within the elearning industry and learning technology arenas – have not only managed to pull off virtual versions, but they’ve often proved to be more effective and valuable alternatives.

The CIPD Festival of Work, held over three days in June, was an incredible success. Focusing on exploring how learning, technology and innovation can come together to shape remarkable organisations that put people first, the virtual event welcomed 26,000+ professionals. Speakers including Sir Ian Cheshire (Chairman, Barclays), Natasha Adams (Chief People Officer, Tesco), and Valerie Todd CBE (HR Director, Siemens UK and Ireland).

So, what other great online elearning workshops, conferences and events are there to look forward to over the next six months?

The best virtual elearning events for your diary

DevLearn Digital Experience

19 to 30 October 2020

This industry-leading event is all about innovation and shaping what’s next for learning. DevLearn 2019 was held in Las Vegas, but due to COVID-19, this year’s conference will be 100% remote access – over the course of two weeks. The online event features 175+ sessions, a digital expo, networking activities, and more.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events?

Attendees and speakers include industry thought leaders such as Myra Roldan of Amazon and Julie Dirksen of Usable Learning, plus many more from across the UK, Belgium, and Australia. The coverage will be diverse, with themes such as gamification, instructional design, emerging tech and AR & VR explored. The organisations represented at DevLearn 2020 include Vanguard, JPMorgan Chase, Volkswagen 3M Company, Caterpillar, TD Bank and Fidelity Investments.

How valuable is this learning event?

It’s a unique virtual networking opportunity. As well as access to almost 200 sessions and the variety of other activities, all content is available on-demand for six months following the conference. So even if you can’t attend live – or there are bits you missed out on – you’ll be able to view it all at your convenience.

Registration is open now and you can get access to the 10-day event from DevLearn’s official site.

DevLearn is a standout show in my calendar. Having attended many times and spoken at the event over the years, I am delighted it’s moving to an online format so hopefully even more people than ever can enjoy the thought-provoking line up – and maybe even share a virtual happy hour!
Kate Pasterfield Head of Learning Strategy Sponge

World of Learning Summit

9 and 10 December 2020

A leading annual L&D UK conference and exhibition, World of Learning Summit gives you access to a range of free L&D seminars, along with panel debates, interactive workshops and discussion. Showcasing advances in everything from learning technology and mobile learning to experiential, World of Learning Summit is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for L&D professionals looking for a complete blend of learning support and inspiration.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events?

The World of Learning events are some of the UK’s most comprehensive exhibitions and conferences dedicated to Learning and Development.

As well as the annual conference, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the latest in L&D with a variety of exhibitors plus presentations including The Technology Test Drive and Learning Design Live. There’s chance to gain innovative new ideas and potential new suppliers, and all methods of training are covered; from bespoke and blended learning to change management and coaching and mentoring.

How valuable is this learning event?

The World of Learning Conference is a two-day event for all senior L&D professionals. It presents delegates with a combination of first-hand case-study presentations, panel debates and discussions, and interactive elearning workshops. 

The World of Learning Exhibit is particularly relevant to L&D buyers, who can benefit from visiting over 100 L&D exhibitors. 

Registration for the World of Learning Summit is free. Once you’ve registered your interest and booked tickets, you’ll receive more information on how to access the virtual event platform nearer the time.

Training and Development Summit

23 and 24 November 2020

Aimed at senior L&D professionals with commercial decision-making capacity and directly responsible for the training of staff, Training and Development Summit offers one-to-one business meetings, interactive seminars and a range of networking opportunities with other L&D professionals and key industry players.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events? 

The concept of the event is the organisation of pre-matched one-to-one live video meetings (facilitated by proprietary matching software – of course) between buyers and suppliers. Consisting of a series of 20-minute online video meetings, this format is streamlined for results. 

As well as the one-to-one meets, there will be a range of speaker sessions with guests including Julia Nickless, Director of People Development and Recruitment, and Royston Guest, CEO at Pti Worldwide.

How valuable is this learning event?

Due to the pre-arranged, targeted one-to-one meetings, Training and Development Summit promises to be a “cost-effective concept that delivers a measurable ROI, without any wasted time or hidden costs.” Delegate attendance is entirely free of charge, and that includes entry into all seminars.

Registration is now open for qualifying delegates.


CIPD’s Annual Conference and Exhibition

11 and 12 November 2020

CIPD’s Annual Conference and Exhibition is primarily focussed on ‘the people profession’ – HR.

This year’s online conference and exhibition will be offering practical advice and actionable insight from industry experts on a range of current hot topics. Namely, how to rebuild businesses effectively and ethically, and addressing and responding to the vital issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events? 

There’s a lot to get excited about at CIPD, but nothing quite stands out more than the line-up of inspiring and thought-provoking speakers at this year’s event.

June Sarpong OBE, broadcaster, writer, and campaigner and Head of Creative Diversity at the BBC; former Chief Business Officer of Google X, Mo Gawdat; Author of 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race', Reni Eddo-Lodge; Matt Elliott, Bank of Ireland’s Chief People Officer; and writer, workplace expert, futurist, and former adviser to the Obama administration, Alexandra Levit.

How valuable is this learning event?

As well as exploring the year’s biggest challenges, speakers and seminars will also be sharing the latest practices, research and innovations that can help develop your knowledge and shape your organisation’s future.

There’s also the CIPD exhibition, where you’ll have the chance to discover the latest products and services from industry-leading suppliers. And with CIPD’s online matchmaking tool, you can get tailored advice based on your interests.

You can book tickets now, and the full conference timetable is also available from CIPD’s website.

For two days of interactivity and immersive experiences, expect to take on the difficult questions, rethink organisational approaches and embrace emerging paradigms after a year of unprecedented challenges and disruption.
CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition Organisers

Learning 2020

16 to 18 November 2020

Created by The Learning Guild, Learning 2020: The Learning Leaders Conference, is touted as ‘the premier event for learning leaders.’ This year’s three-day showcase will explore the critical issues facing today’s learning leaders, and it’s an opportunity to engage in discussions and experiences that examine the most prolific and advanced strategies and skills in the modern learning landscape.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events? 

The 30 sessions across three days will cover a wide array of topics on all aspects of learning leadership, plus panels with CLOs and notable learning leaders.

Speakers include Executive Director of The Learning Guild, David Kelly; Ericsson’s Global Chief Learning Officer, Vidya Krishnan; and The Learning and Performance Institute Chairman, Donald Taylor.

How valuable is this learning event? 

Learning 2020 is for any learning leader looking to explore the most critical modern challenges and exciting breakthroughs.

The event is free to attend for anyone, and topics include navigating learning through the pandemic, learning in the new normal, the changing learning platform landscape, and chatbots & voice-enabled learning.

After the event, additional online and virtual sessions will be released every month and through next year – leading into Learning 2021.

Registration is now open.


Understanding Learning Trends

2 and 3 December 2020

Another online conference from The Learning Guild, Understanding Learning Trends will be focusing on providing the foundational knowledge required to understand today’s hottest trends and how they are determining the future of learning and development. There are many other upcoming top elearning conferences in 2020 and next year that are produced by The Learning Guild – most of which have been planned as virtual events.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events?

The conference is formatted to cover eight key emerging learning trends, and within each session, speakers and delegates will have the opportunity to explore these subjects in detail and at length.

This year’s line-up of speakers includes CEO of Emergent Enterprise, Scott McCormick; Becca Wilson, the Strategic Marketing and Product Manager of Amazon Web Services; and Quantum Improvements Consulting’s CEO, Jennifer Murphy.

How valuable is this learning event? 

There’s no doubt about it: 2020 has been a full-throttle and frenzied year for the L&D industry.

Understanding Learning Trends poses the opportunity to take your foot off the gas for a moment and reflect on a period of improvisation and profound change to see which of the trends and practices that have emerged are worth developing and carrying forward. Focus will also be on how to prepare for the somewhat unforeseen aspects of learning and development’s future.

Registration for the event is open now.

Learning Technologies '21

TBC in 2021

No list of the top virtual elearning industry events would be complete without mention of Learning Technologies which is the premier event of the year with attendees and speakers from around the world.

At present, LT21UK is set to go ahead at ExCel London on 10 and 11 February 2021, but considering the current climate, how it’s going to be presented is subject to change. At Sponge, we will keep you informed of the possible dates for attendance, whether virtual or otherwise.

The 2021 conference will primarily focus on exploring the most exciting tools and technologies that are currently transforming learning, including AI, predictive analytics and VR. As an attendee, you’ll have the chance to explore fresh ideas, modern innovations and new initiatives across 200 seminars and 200 exhibitors.

Why will it be one of the top virtual elearning events? 

Learning Technologies is the leading showcase of organisational learning and the technology used to support learning at work. The event features all the latest learning technologies and there’ll be a variety of learning industry experts who will be delivering inspirational, thought-provoking, speaker sessions.

How valuable is this learning event?

LT21UK is an opportunity to tackle the L&D issues you’re currently facing. Such is the profile of the Learning Technologies conference, as much as it highlights and explores the latest trends and advances, the event itself also acts as a breeding ground for new ideas and developmental directions.

Currently, the LT website maintains that booking will open soon. You can get the latest event updates from Twitter, @LearnTechUK.