Ten years ago, when I accepted a job at Blue Sky eLearn (well, Blue Sky Broadcast back then!), I was an eLearning newbie. But I dove in feet-first to learn all that I could about this amazing industry, and it’s been nothing short of an interesting, evolving, sometimes crazy ride. As I reflect on the last 10 years, I’m sharing what’s stood out to me the most:
At Blue Sky, while we’ve always focused on learning, we’ve also been dedicated to meetings and events that revolve around education. When I started working at Blue Sky, we were already running webinars and hybrid events. We had an online portal where we’d store on-demand content from these events, as well as content recorded from conferences. But the portal wasn’t all—we were also putting that on-demand content onto DVD-ROMs and mailing them out to purchasers! I still remember so many folks wanting to purchase the DVD because that allowed them to hold on to the content forever, whereas content stored online could disappear at any moment.
Fast forward a few years, and suddenly it was hard to buy a laptop that even had a spot for a DVD-ROM. DVDs quickly started becoming a thing of the past, and more and more of our clients began embracing eLearning—and not just on-demand content from live events, but content specifically created for online courses, as well. Our flagship product, Path LMS™, was born, and the exciting world of eLearning evolved around us.
Since then, we’ve built and grown Path LMS, adapting and innovating based on what’s going on in the industry and feedback from our clients. Virtual events have become more important than ever (although, we always knew how important they were!).
Technology isn’t the only thing that’s evolved: our buyers have, too! And eLearning software isn’t the only technology that has come a long way in the past 10 years. Can you believe products like Slack, Instagram, and Venmo were in the early stages of launching or didn’t even exist 10 years ago?
Using new technology that has developed in the last ten years has forced each of our buyers to become more tech savvy. As a result, their expectations have changed for the products and services they are using, which translates into more sophisticated sales processes, impressive launches, and use of Path LMS.
Okay, I know there are plenty of people out there who knew another pandemic was inevitable. Even if we had all known what was coming, I don’t think many were prepared for March 2020. But, Blue Sky was ready to help the world adapt.
Being a company that focuses on eLearning, Zoom meetings and virtual events weren’t new to us. But they were unknown to so many of our prospective customers. Those professional organizations who had always done everything in person were now looking at online options and relying heavily on Blue Sky to help them find the best solutions.
The number of inquiries was overwhelming as we all tried to navigate this new normal personally and professionally. Blue Sky doubled in size to handle the demand. And while 2021 has seen some conferences and meetings go back to being in-person, one thing is for sure—virtual is here to stay. There may be certain aspects of in-person conferences that can’t be replaced, but it’s truly up to the individual attendee if those things matter to them. Virtual conferences and eLearning have allowed people to save time, money, or both. They also enable people to feel safer and stay healthy while there are still so many unknowns.
When I talk about the future, there are a lot of unknowns. Should or shouldn’t we hold in-person meetings and events? Will the pandemic worsen, or will things start to get better? While I can’t predict those things or provide advice on whether to hold your event in-person or not, I can say this (again): virtual is here to stay—and that should be exciting!
After 18 months of virtual events and conferences, no matter what happens, a virtual component will now be expected. With ongoing travel bans and varying comfort levels, even if you can have an in-person event, there will be plenty of people who may choose not to attend. From a planning perspective, things like diminished room capacity restrictions that limit the size of an in-person audience will need to be considered.
Hosting virtual events over the past year and a half has allowed organizations to expand their reach to those who may not have attended an in-person conference regardless of the pandemic. No one wants to lose these new learners by no longer offering a virtual component.
Along with expanding reach, having a 100% virtual event allows for organizations to be more flexible. For example, an in-person event could be up to five full days. On the other hand, a virtual event could be a series of shorter days or sessions over an entire month or quarter, expanding potential touch points and value to the learners.
For organizations planning to stay 100% virtual in 2021 (or even 2022!), there is no need to worry about changing restrictions, shutdowns, or travel bans affecting conferences. Having a virtual component be at least part of the plan allows organizations to be in a good spot to transition to a 100% virtual event if necessary.
What will the next 10 years at Blue Sky eLearn hold? I don’t know for sure. And while there are so many unknowns about the future, organizations are finding great success with virtual events, and that is so exciting to see! I’m ready for the next 10 years with Blue Sky eLearn, and I hope you are too!
About the Author
Jocelyn Taylor is the Senior Director of Sales Operations at Blue Sky eLearn. She has over a decade of experience in sales and marketing, specializing in associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside—whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).
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