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DevLearn 2009: Building the Future of Learning

by Bill Brandon

December 2, 2009


by Bill Brandon

December 2, 2009

DevLearn 2009 featured experts and experiments, development tools and design strategies, lessons learned, and peeks at what is yet to come in e-Learning. Here's a summary, including video recaps, Twitter streams, and links to Weblogs that recorded and analyzed the event as it happened. Enjoy!

The DevLearn 2009 Conference & Expo in San Jose, California, November 10–13 turned out to be a week of many highlights. The first of these, considering the economy, was the total attendance: 1,346 people, including attendees from 18 countries other than the United States.

Other highlights included sneak peeks from Adobe and Google, the three special programs (Serious Games Zone, Social Learning Camp, and Mobile Learning Camp), the large Expo, the incredible DemoFest, and the Zombie Apocalypse Alternate Reality Game (ARG).

Read about all these in this article. But first, get a sense of the tempo from this video recap.



The week's events

It was a busy, exciting week, difficult to summarize in a brief article. Beginning on Monday with the third annual Adobe Learning Summit, co-located with DevLearn 2009, events included pre-conference Certificate Programs, three extraordinary keynotes, over 100 concurrent learning sessions, over 30 Breakfast Byte sessions, and 52 extra events in the Social Learning Camp, Mobile Learning Jam, Serious Games Zone, and Master Classes. The Augmented Reality Game, DevLearn 09 Zombie Apocalypse, which began a month before DevLearn, continued throughout the conference. The Expo, with 40 exhibitors, was a key attraction on Wednesday and Thursday, as was DemoFest on Thursday night.

Before the Conference

The Adobe Learning Summit

The Adobe Learning Summit attracted several hundred attendees, who came to get the latest information about Adobe tools, plus "sneak peeks" at new products and tips from Adobe team leaders and from other users. Highlights included a great keynote on social media and collaboration by author, consultant, and digital guru Clay Shirky, and comments by Adobe Systems, Inc. president and chief executive officer Shantanu Narayen. Sessions during the day were offered by experts such as Joe Ganci, Dr. Carmen Taran, and Josh Cavalier. Product team leaders led additional sessions during which they provided insights and previously unpublished information about impending releases. The day concluded with a panel discussion and Q&A session, featuring RJ Jaquez, Randah McKinnie, Peter Ryce, Shameer Ayyappan, Suresh Jarayaman, and Andrew Chemey.

Here are some links to content from the Summit:


Pre-conference Certificate Programs

DevLearn offered a total of 14 day-long Certificate Programs to attendees who registered separately for them. (See Figure 1.) The most popular of these was Joe Ganci's “Creating Outstanding e-Learning with Adobe Captivate.” Other programs that shared top attendance were Ruth Clark's “Designing Scenario-based e-Learning” and Mark Oehlert's “Making Social Media Work with e-Learning.”



Figure 1 Karen Hyder's Certificate Program, “Producing Successful Synchronous Online Sessions” included practical demonstrations of techniques to improve learner engagement.



Andrew McAfee, “Enterprise 2.0: The State of an Art”

Andrew McAfee is Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also the author of Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges , as well as the author or co-author of more than fifteen scholarly articles and ninety case studies and other materials for students and teachers of technology.

In his keynote, McAfee addressed the ways in which writing Enterprise 2.0 challenged his assumptions, updated the tips he offered in the book, the factors that make Enterprise 2.0 (which he defined as “the use of emergent social software platforms by organizations in pursuit of their goals”) work, the benefits of turning on the 2.0 toolkit, and his observations about “how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2 Andrew McAfee delivered the opening keynote




You can read reviews of McAfee's keynote by attendees at:


Eric Zimmerman, " Meaningful Play: Serious Game Design for Serious Learning″

Eric Zimmerman, co-founder and chief design officer of Gamelab, delivered a fast-paced and energetic look at what he sees as " the Ludic Century″ – the Age of Play, in which games have a growing and special relevance. Zimmerman's keynote summarized the key lessons in the book he co-authored, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals , which is intended as a textbook for game designers.

He supported his keynote with two Massively Multiplayer Games: Massively Multiplayer Rock-Paper-Scissors (MMRPS) , and Colors (a Massively Multiplayer color-matching game). (See Figure 3 for the exciting conclusion of the game – the two players who prevailed over the other 1,000 in the session.) These illustrated how rules create both relationships and experience through play (free movement within a more rigid structure), and how the experience creates new meanings for the players. Play itself is innovation, and play transforms thinking. Games are context, designed to support meaning. Zimmerman asked, in closing, whether we have room for play in our systems? Are we creating structures in which information is put at play to result in learning?

Several present live-blogged or summarized Eric Zimmerman's keynote, and I recommend you read their comments:


Figure 3 Eric Zimmerman and the last move in the Massively Multiplayer Rock-Paper-Scissors game: the two players who beat the other 1000 people.


Leo LaPorte: " Why New Media Matters″

Leo LaPorte, Chief TWiT of the TWiT Netcast Network, is known and loved by millions of digerati and ordinary online citizens alike for his print, radio, television, and online productions over the years. (See Figure 4.) Leo summarized what he has learned in 32 years in mass media, why mass media failed, and why new media took over. He also related the story of the evolution of his programming, the technology he uses, and what he sees as the future as well as the challenges to that future.


Figure 4 Leo LaPorte (right center in gray jacket) talks to attendees after his keynote.


You can read weblog summaries of Leo's keynote here:


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