As you probably already know, DevLearn 2012 was an incredible event. It capped a remarkable year of change with more professionals registered and attending (just short of 2000) than at any previous eLearning Guild conference. In this brief recap, we’ll try to give you a better sense of the excitement at the Aria in Las Vegas.
At the opening general session, attendees packed the room.
The theme of DevLearn 2012 was “embracing technologies for training and development” but that doesn’t really tell the story of what the conference was about. From beginning to end, even though the content addressed technology and design in an increasingly mobile and interconnected world, the tone communicated by the speakers was one of motivation and encouragement to take what could be possible and make it real.
Renada Taylor, Senior Instructional Designer from Pitney Bowes, enjoyed her DevLearn experience and felt completely overwhelmed at the variety of sessions and number of options. She attended with colleagues, so they were able to “divide and conquer” to see and learn as much as possible.
Patrick Devey and Nishan Joomun, both from KnowledgeOne in Montreal, thought DevLearn 2012 was a success. They attended pre-conference workshops and appreciated the hands-on learning experiences provided by those sessions.
A number of different formats were in play at the conference and before, in additon to the traditional concurrent breakout sessions in the various meeting rooms.
Adobe Learning Summit
On Monday of the conference week, Adobe hosted its annual Learning Summit. Co-sited with DevLearn 2012, the Learning Summit offered 20 sessions in five tracks, focused on the use of Adobe products, and with topics ranging from mobile and video, to measurement and professional skills, to “dazzling” learners with rich media. Dan Lyons, Tech Columnist at Newsweek provided the keynote for the day, “The So-Mo Revolution”: a look at the platforms and devices leading a mega-wave of change, and at the survival chances of individual technologies.
Pre-conference Certificate Programs
These are always popular. This year, DevLearn offered three two-day programs, and seven one-day programs. The Storyline sessions were both extremely well-attended, but the other programs were also full, including topics supporting mobile learning, use of the Tin Can API, video production, virtual classrooms, Captivate 6, scenario-based multimedia learning, brain science, intelligent learning content, project management, and building eLearning in the real world.
The Storyline sessions were filled to capacity.
Using a format that goes all the way back to Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, DevLearn’s Junto offered an immersive environment where eLearning thought leaders could explore common challenges and develop innovative solutions that will move our industry forward. A collective effort that began before DevLearn, it continued through the first two days in Las Vegas as the group turned their ideas into action plans.
By now, regular attendees at eLearning Guild conferences are accustomed to this format. Five Learning Stages spread around the Expo area offered a continuous stream of sessions during the hours that the Expo was open. Formats for the sessions ranged from expert panels to individual subject matter experts to vendor presentations that offered helpful tips for use of their products. There was a total of five stages:
- Management Exchange
- Emerging Tech
- Technology Enriched Training
- Mobile Learning
- Learning Media Studio
The Learning Stages attracted large audiences.
Tin Can Alley
Repeating a popular venue from mLearnCon 2012, Tin Can Alley provided a quiet location where attendees could meet with experts on the Experience API (Tin Can) to discuss what the new API offers, to see demonstrations of products that are already using the technology, and to get advice on implementation.
DemoFest has been an extremely popular event for several years at DevLearn. This year, DemoFest offers attendees the chance to see 56 different solutions to common eLearning challenges and to share information about the tools, technologies, and processes to build them. They then were able to vote on the best demos. See the list of winners below the slideshow.
Best Onboarding/Employee Orientation Course: Anti-Corruption 2.0 – Lars Andel
Best Software Systems Course: Luminex MAGPIX Installation Training Tool – David Cowan
Best Course Using Social Media: Empowering a Healthcare Nonprofit and its Community with Social Learning – Will Yafi
Best Soft Skills Course: Captivate Customer Service Team Training – Dr. Pooja Jaisingh
Best Blended Learning Course: Babysitting Basics – Nick Floro
Best Business Process Course: Red Cross Shelter Management and Shelter Fundamentals – Diane Elkins (Rodney Jackson accepted for Diane)
Best Academic Course: Curation! How We Made a Six Month Course in Less Than a Week – Ben Betts
Best Game-Based Course and Best of Show (Vendors): Play the Election – Kris Rockwell
Best Mobile Course and Best of Show (Non-Vendor): Mobile Learning to Engage Global Employees – Karen Weldon
At the afternoon session on Wednesday, Aaron Silvers announced a momentous development in the area of standards. The AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee) announced that it is adopting the Experience API (Tin Can) as the foundation for its CMI 5 specification. The AICC and the ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) Initiative will work together to improve and solidify the Experience API. See the press release here for more details.
Guild Master Award
David Holcombe and Heidi Fisk, co-founders of The eLearning Guild presented the Guild Master Award to Dr. Clark Quinn for his constant contributions to the Guild Community of Practice. Clark has written articles and reports, delivered conference sessions and online forums, and has made many other contributions as well. This is the first time The eLearning Guild has conferred this award, and one will be presented at each eLearning Guild conference going forward.
Dr. Clark Quinn receives the first annual Guild Master Award.
The keynotes had a common purpose: to encourage attendees to push the envelope in order to find success.
Jon Landau, Oscar-winning producer of Titanic, Avatar, and many other movies, explained how he has used technology to create media content that engages the consumers and rewards them for the time they spend watching a movie. Extending what he has learned from his success to what we do in eLearning, he urged designers and developers, when considering technology, to always look ahead to what it will allow us to achieve in the future. This will enable you to be ahead of the wave – don’t wait for the technology. Landau also says that technology is only a means to an end. What is important is the themes within a work, and delivery on an emotional level to get the engagement that will the learner to yearn to know and to do more.
In the afternoon of the first day, magician, podcaster, author, and comedian Brian Brushwood illustrated the intersection of entertainment and education that is only possible because of new media. While much of his work appears whimsical (to say the least), it demonstrates how, by identifying a niche and owning it, you can be first; even if you can’t be first, he also demonstrated how to be successful as the second person in an unfilled niche by being the opposite of what the first person is or does. From broad strategy, Brian moved on to specific tactics, in a fast-moving, highly entertaining keynote.
On Thursday morning, Alison Levine, an adventurer, teacher, and entrepreneur, inspired attendees with her story of climbing Mt. Everest – twice – in spite of a history of serious health issues. Her key points were all about how to get the job done with the resources you have. It is important, she says, to ask the right questions and to keep asking until you get to “yes.” By taking prudent risks, supporting your team, taking action based on the situation at the time, and using the lessons you learned along the way, you will rise above any challenge.
Jeffrey Ma, business strategist and co-founder of sports media company Citizen Sports, was the inspiration for the movie 21, which seems fitting for a conference meeting in Las Vegas. Jeffrey outlined business lessons he’s learned along the way:
- Decisions cannot be influenced by emotion or by groupthink. Make the tough decisions.
- Recognize the mistake of omission bias. Remember that loss aversion causes people to make poor decisions.
- Understand the fallacy of the “gut feeling.” Trust the data.
- Right decision vs. Right outcome.
- Bet more when the odds are in your favor; bet less when they are not.
- Trust the team. Hire people you trust.
- Use game mechanics to foster competition and increase motivation.
- Use metrics. Measure everything you can measure. Continuous improvement is critical.
- Be transparent. Make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
- Competition. Align incentives and know that one person’s win is a win for the team.
Jeffrey summed up: We have to stick with the systems we believe in, even when things are hard. We fail all the time but we’ve got to get back up and keep going.
In the closing general session, keynoter Dayna Steele offered what she called “The Rock Star Principles of Success,” all based on her experience working with real rock stars who are at the top, doing what they love, on their terms, and totally on top of the world. These principles are what got them there, and they will get eLearning practitioners “there” as well.
- You must believe – delusional notions about yourself are sometimes (perhaps always) necessary.
- You must have passion – love what you do.
- Know what your audience loves – think about their passions, stop and listen to them, do your homework, and read constantly about everything so that you know what’s going on.
- Do things for other people, without expecting anything in return.
- Just ask for what you need.
- Show appreciation; remember to continue to say “Thank you” to everybody.
- Do things because you know in your heart they are the right thing to do.
The rest of the story
There were almost 200 learning activities on the total program – far too many to even summarize here. The numerous panels and the Ignite! sessions provided multiple viewpoints and were among the most heavily attended events within DevLearn, but the sessions delivered by individual presenters offered in-depth development of skills and knowledge that attendees could put to work immediately on their return home.
You can find good notes from these sessions by looking at the resources summarized on Twitter and in attendee blogs:
- Hashcaster: http://devlearn.hashcaster.com
- Keynotes and concurrent session notes: http://davidkelly.me/2012/10/devlearn-2012-conference-backchannel-curated-resources/