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DevLearn 2012 Enters the Record Books

by Bill Brandon, Jennifer Neibert

November 1, 2012


by Bill Brandon, Jennifer Neibert

November 1, 2012

"Innovation separates the followers from the leaders. Technological brilliance alone is not enough. eLearning developers – much like Hollywood producers – must take what could be possible and find innovations to make those possibilities a reality."

In spite of Hurricane Sandy's best efforts to keep people from attending this year's DevLearn Conference & Expo, a record number of professionals—nearly 2000—were at the Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the event. (Figure 1) The event also attracted 86 exhibitors this year, the largest Expo in Guild history. (Figure 2) This continues the tremendous record of growth for DevLearn and it remains the premiere event in North America for professionals in the technology-supported learning and performance field.


 Figure 1: The Opening General Session attracted nearly 2000 attendees.


 Figure 2: The DevLearn 2012 Expo opening

Why did so many choose to attend DevLearn 2012?

As a community of practice, The eLearning Guild is all about enabling members to connect, share, and learn from one another. The general sessions and keynote speakers on the opening day repeated the theme running through the entire DevLearn Conference: the tool—or technology—is never as important as the result, and it is the human side of our work that remains the most important element.

Dave Chace, who owns training and education firm Training Allies, was back for his second DevLearn. Dave said, "I came to DevLearn last year and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Having an event like this consolidates a lot of the information I need; the Expo is a big part of it for me. We're constantly looking for resources, on the content development side, the platform side, the technology side, so having the seminars here that address our specific needs is really helpful." When asked what one topic at DevLearn was the biggest reason for his return, he replied, "Primarily mobile learning—we want to be on the very cutting edge of the mobile learning field."

On the other hand, Michele Doucette from the University of Colorado Denver was new to DevLearn. She said, "This is my first time attending DevLearn and I'm excited to learn more about new technologies and find out new directions that people are thinking about. And also being informed about when the technology isn't quite there, I'm looking forward to learning about what other approaches might work and solutions that are available."

A new feature at DevLearn 2012

A conference within a conference, the DevLearn Junto is a new feature at DevLearn 2012. This select group of participants is taking advantage of the opportunity to come together and collaborate on some of the biggest challenges facing the eLearning industry today. Aaron Silvers shared that the first day of Junto interaction was an incredible opportunity to mix industry experts and thought leaders with fresh perspectives and new voices. He’s looking forward to what the group will produce collaboratively over the remainder of the conference and during the coming weeks and months.

First day general sessions and keynotes

Jon Landau held the audience spellbound with his opening general session keynote, Braving A New World: Innovation in Avatar and What Lies Ahead. Landau is the Oscar-winning producer of Titanic, Avatar, and numerous other movies that have used cutting edge technology and innovation to engage consumers and reward them for the time they spend with the product. He says, “Learning never stops. The ability to continue to learn is what makes life so exciting.”

According to Landau, innovation separates the followers from the leaders. Technological brilliance alone is not enough. eLearning developers—much like Hollywood producers—must take what could be possible and find innovations to make those possibilities a reality. Delivering learning at the moment of need, in a way that engages the audience, creates meaningful connections. And the importance of those human connections are the same if you’re delivering an eLearning course or a multi-million dollar, award-winning movie.

At the beginning of the afternoon general session, Aaron Silvers created major excitement for attendees with the announcement that AICC is adopting the Experience API (also known as the Tin Can API) as the foundation for their specification, marking the end of the differences between the AICC standard and the ADL standard. (See the press release about this development published earlier today in Learning Solutions.)

Immediately following Aaron's announcement, award-winning magician, podcaster, author and comedian Brian Brushwood gave a highly entertaining talk on "scamming your way to success." This talk even included a demonstration of fire eating, but the principle lesson most attendees left with was Brian's advice to "identify one niche and own it." Brushwood gave a great deal of practical advice for those who want to be effective influencers, on how to deal with the Wild West that is New Media, in order to engage your audience and be heard.

More to come

The opening day of DevLearn 2012 was filled with excitement. We'll be filling you in on all of it, and the rest of the Conference, in the recap that will appear here on Monday, November 5.

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I had the chance to interview a few DevLearn vendors and attendees. They were all having a great conference and really enjoyed the learning and networking opportunities. There's no other conference like it.
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