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I’ve spent the best part of last week in Las Vegas attending DevLearn 2012, so as is customary, I thought I’d provide you with a run-down of the sessions I attended but more importantly, the actions and key points of each session that stuck in my head that I feel are of benefit to the work I am doing now and anticipate being involved in in the future.
When I asked Clarke what common pitfalls he sees organisations fall into when devising their L&D content strategies, he informed us all that centering on ‘courses’ was the biggest pitfall he observes. This was a timely response for me as I am about to get involved in writing my Organisations L&D strategy. It had certainly never been my intention to centre on ‘courses’ within the strategy, however I’m sure that having the advice of Clarke on my side will come in very useful, should we hit any ‘problems’ during it’s creation.
My action: Take extreme care when developing my Organisation’s L&D strategy to steer clear of making any suggestions that ‘courses’ will be the default learning solution.
John informed us James Cameron never writes a script with ‘what’s technically possible‘ in mind, with that ringing in our ears he suggested that we write our business plans with that mantra in mind. Oh, and I won a signed DVD from him…
My action: This “don’t write for what is possible ‘today’” concept is something that I intend to weave into my Organisations L&D strategy.
An interesting piece of research was discussed during Ruth’s session in which it was shown that a ‘simple’ piece of learning content faired better in terms of achieving the learning outcomes than a ‘complicated’ piece of content. This may seem like an obvious answer to many readers, however Ruth then revealed that when the learners involved in the research were asked to reveal which of the two activities they preferred, the more ‘complicated’ piece of content faired better. I believe this should act as a reminder to us to balance achieving the learning outcomes with delivering what the learner ‘likes’ (and the whole issue of ‘learner engagement’ that comes with that)
My action: Continue with my mantra (which is echoed by Clark Quinn) of “what’s the least I can do for you“
This session was waaaay to advanced for the likes of me with my Flipcam and iPhone with a great many references to high end cameras, specialist lighting and editing software. There were some good tips on how Mark had developed characters for his series of videos and his use of humour as well as the mantra ‘tell a story…. always tell a story‘!
My action: Review my organisations usage of video in the coming months and determine whether the small hand-held ‘Flip-cam-esque’ cameras are suitable for our needs or whether an upgrade to a DSLR would be advisable.
I’ve been tinkering around with iBooks Author for a little while writing a book and had been able to get to grips with almost all it’s functionality, however the ‘HTML 5′ widget has had me stumped!
Fortunately, Jason had been working with iBooks for some time and had discovered a tool called Hype (Mac only) which seemed to provide a very simple and intuitive way of creating HTML 5 animations that allowed direct exporting to iBooks. On a few occasions a few technical minded attendees asked some quite technical questions, which to his credit, he swiftly answered but reminded people that this was an intro to Hype and iBooks and quickly got back to the focus of the session.
My action: Purchase Hype to allow my exploration of iBooks to continue, with a view to offering some organisational resources via iTunes U. Look into gaining access to an area of my Organisations server so as to trial pushing mobile web content to iPads.
As ‘good-an-idea’ as the Morning Buzz (0715-0815) sessions are, I guess they are always going to have to do battle with the desire to have a lie-in, add to the equation that this was the morning after an almighty Las Vegas Halloween party and that probably explains why there were only a small number of attendees at this session.
The session took the form of an informal conversation with each of us swapping compliance war stories. Neil suggested that we reaaaaaallllly do some digging with our external regulators to fully understand ‘The Rules’, as opposed to guessing what is expected of us or taking our compliance department’s word for it. He also provided a novel insight into a piece of work he had been asked to undertake around ‘anti-money laundering’. Neil took an antagonists approach to this subject and developed a resource more aligned with ‘How To Launder Money’. This approach initially proved controversial, however Neil assured us that over time it began to have the desired behavioural impact.
My action: Set up a meeting with our designated external regulator to discuss ‘The Rules’. Consider taking the antagonists approach, the next time I produce any material(s).
Super-charging Google Sales Readiness with Gamification and Social Media – Erika Grouell & Patrick Williams (no, not ‘that’ Patrick Williams)
Google talked to us about their SalesPro+ platform and how they have moved away from what we might call ‘traditional click next’ elearning to a collaborative, games-based approach. This approach resonated with me as I have been mulling over ‘free text’ assessments for a little while now as part of a project I am involved in. I had been worried about taking this approach as I was concerned about the time it would take to assess and provide feedback to free text submissions compared to multiple-guess assessments being marked by SCORM / LMS (this ain’t gonna happen!)
Fortunately Google were able to put my mind at rest as they had been taking approx 2 hours a week to review, assess and feed back on the free text assessments for an audience of approx 700 people.
My action: Step up my plans to include free text assessments should they work out being the best form of assessment for my upcoming project.
A great dynamic session here involving a ‘panel discussion’ with several members of the panel being physically there in person, 1 Skyping in and one participating via Twitter all answering questions relating to the emergence and usage of ‘new’ Tech. There were a number of pre-prepared questions along with the opportunity for people to ‘Tweet in’ relevant questions as well as traditonal ‘questions from the floor.
My action: Discuss this option with a colleague of mine in our Internal Comms team as a way of bringing more people into the regular Q&A sessions with our MD.
I love watching Alicia speak as she has a great way of combining her vast knowledge in this area with great facilitation skills and a sharp sense of humour. Whilst I’m not a fan of the word ‘Gamification’ it was still very worthwhile attending to gain a perspective on how others have been using gaming mechanics to increase engagement and ‘stickiness’ of resources.
My action: Identify examples of where gaming mechanics have been used for L&D activities that are NOT enclosed within self-paced, click next tutorials. Consider a games-based learning session for the Lunch and Learn sessions that I facilitate.
I had been looking forward to attending this session however after about 10 minutes one of the speakers suggested conducting an organisation-wide Learning Styles survey…. I took this as my cue to leave and move to….
A series of Ignite presentations across a range of topical subjects. I found myself wanting to hear more from some of the participants, so was naturally frustrated at the 5 minute air time that Ignite rules provides them. In particular Jane Bozarth encouraged us to ‘Show Your Work’ a subject that I’d be keen to hear more from Jane about…… who knows…. perhaps she’s planning to tell us more…..
My action: Include Ignite into a future Lunch and Learn session I am planning on ‘Getting Beyond Bullet Points’
I hadn’t planned to attend Lisa’s session, however once I saw that it was directly next to the room that I was due to be facilitating my session in 1 hour later (and was currently in use) I decided to pop in, join in the conversation and say “Hi” to Lisa, who I have been having conversations with on Twitter for some time, but have never had the good fortune to meet. Lisa was facilitating a (large) group conversation around the challenges of being a 1-person L&D team. Some great pieces of advice were passed around, but for me the piece that really hit home (even though I’m not in a 1-person L&D team), was the reminder that we can only do 1 thing at a time, that sometimes work needs to be pushed back, that sometimes we need to learn/remember to say “No“.
My action: Feel comfortable with saying “No”. Promote the Twitter hashtag – #1PDept – to ensure that the small group that formed during that morning session can grow in size and can benefit from a wider audience. 1-person teams can be tough enough, so if you feel that you can offer some insights or even of you fall into that category, why not search them out on Twitter?
My session served as a timely reminder that people / organisations are at different points in their journey of understanding / adopting mobile technologies. The audience were fantastic and very forthcoming in asking questions, providing responses and generally getting stuck in!
What did surprise me, was the fact that approximately 30 minutes into the session I announced the practical element of the session and informed people that they were to break down into groups and use a mobile device to create a piece of content, push it to Twitter using the event # and then we could all consume the content via our mobile devices – at this stage approx 5 people stood up and walked out of the session?!?! To this day I have no idea why, however I do know that many people commented on how much they enjoyed the practical element of the session and saw it as a refreshing change to some of the other ‘info only’ sessions that they had attended.
My action(s): Send slides to the eLearning Guild for publication on the event resources page. Upload slides to Slideshare. Create Slidecast on Slideshare, so verbal context is not lost.
All to frequently hear the cry “but how do we know Social Media adds value, blah, blah, blah” so I was keen to see and hear what Jane had to say. Jane ran a wonderful session which from my perspective, centered around a story in which Jane had used Twitter to crowdsource an answer to question. Jane has blogged about this example in detail and I would encourage you to take a look at it, in particular the ‘Value Creation’ table shown in Figure 1.
My action: Re-read the article that I referred you to above. Discuss with my boss as to whether the Value Creation table could be applied as an evaluation method to all our L&D activities and not just those that center around ‘communities’.
Overall conference observations / take aways
- Good to see the conference and exhibition being co-located avoiding the ‘upstairs, downstairs‘ that has been mentioned before. It also makes life a damn site easier for attendees.
- The mobile app was extremely useful and became my real ‘workhorse’ during the conference and indeed before it actually started. I would have liked to have seen the inbuilt Twitter function with a greater degree of functionality i.e. RTs, DMs, attaching images, following people etc – however having said that the fact the app overall was very impressive and I’d like to see something of this standard at UK conferences. (if any UK conference organisers want my app login details to fully explore it, then please get in touch)
- The Conference staff all wore eLearning Guild branded sky-blue(ish) shirts/tops which massively helped attendees in terms of being able to know who to ask for help.
- I went to some trouble to ensure that the phrases, stories and examples that I used were ‘non-UK’ specific and were therefore more likely to be understood by an International audience. Unfortunately not every speaker went to this trouble, resulting on a number of occasions with me spending valuable time trying to Google/understand the context that they were talking about – time that would have been better spent listening to / watching the facilitator. Perhaps the eLearning Guild could be more explicit about asking future Devlearn facilitators to consider this?
- The conference badge holders were actually little ‘around the neck’ bags (see first image in this post) that not only allowed you to display your conference badge, but also had a small zipped section to store business cards, a pen, some money. A simple little thing, but one that made a difference.
- The morning buzz sessions are 0715-0815 sessions designed for the early riser (or like me, the jet-lagged). The sessions that I attended were very informal, had a small number of attendees and were very much geared towards having conversations with like-minded people around a given subject. I thought it was a great way of maximising the time of the conference and an idea that I’d certainly buy into, should they ever make an appearance at UK conferences.
- The conference was much less formal than others I have attended, which in my opinion, provided a much more ‘friendly’ and welcoming atmosphere. You had to look hard to spot somebody NOT in jeans/casual dress! I don’t believe that this dress code effected anybody’s morale or motivation…..
Dave Kelly has curated an ever growing list of Devlearn related resources.
Devlearn utilised a great curating platform know as Hashcaster
If any of the overviews that I’ve provided above make you curious for more info, why not check out the backchannel or drop me a below?
That was a helpful recap. I missed this year's DevLearn conference and am curious to know more about not centering L&D content strategies on courses. We're working on our strategy, so this is relevant. Do you have any additional notes or links you can point me to? I'm also curious about the antagonists approach to compliance training. Is there any way to access Neil's "How to Launder Money" course? I'd love to see how he approached it. I do a lot of compliance training and am always looking to make it more relevant and focused on learning/performance outcomes rather than checking the box. Thanks!
Your comments on Ruth Clarke's session, regarding people learning better from simpler content, but preferring more complex content, were interesting. That seems to tie in very well with concepts like "Flow" (with it's balance between challenge and skill) and "Friction" in learning. Good food for thought.
I think this is an exemplary conference: you've captured what struck you as pertinent, and you've made connections between the enthusiasm that a good conference rouses, and the reality of life back on the job. Mindful, practical, optimistic.If more people did this, they'd get more out of whatever conferences they attended.
Thanks for the great recap, and for this example of blogging for reporting, reflecting, and action planning. I had so much great feedback on my Ignite presentation I expect we'll be seeing it in longer form at a conference coming soon. Great seeing you in the jetlagged flesh -- thanks for being such a great participant. -- Jane
@jleffron Hi. Thanks for reading and commenting. Do you have any links to further reading on the areas you've mentioned?
@Dave Ferguson Hi Dave, many thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate your feedback and I'm glad you were able to spot the balance I was trying to achieve between post-conference enthusiasm and the 'real world'