DevLearn13 eLearning Conference Report

The third week of October, I attended DevLearn, an annual convention in Las Vegas that is focused on the art and science of eLearning, hosted by The eLearning Guild. With less than two years of production experience, I’m relatively new to online training delivery, so I found the entire event stimulating and educational. Every day I arrived early and stayed late– yes, one of those people.

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A typical day consisted of an hour-long Morning Buzz session starting at 7:15. These were facilitated group discussions where the participants sipped coffee and shared their thoughts and experiences related to various topics, from independent consulting to deploying eLearning in an Enterprise environment. I found these sessions the most useful in the event for working out solutions to my particular challenges. Thanks to the contributions of my peers, I came away with a wealth of ongoing resources in the form of book recommendations, websites, and personal contacts.

The proper programming day at DevLearn consisted of an hour-long opening and closing General Session with a guest speaker. This might be an eLearning specialist such as Ian Bogost, who gave a fascinating analysis of the difference between games and gamification in eLearning, or an Internet expert such as Eli Pariser, who gave an extended version of his TED talk on the Filter Bubble, and how the personalization of search results affects perception and learning.

The bulk of the programming day consisted of numerous concurrent sessions, up to twenty to choose from, held in various conference rooms. Typically these sessions addressed some aspect of learning theory, design, analytics, and best practices. Competing with these were a scheduled series of demos in the Expo Hall, a crowded affair with over 100 exhibitors offering everything from custom eLearning development to technologies for developing and delivering your own content. At the rear of the DevLearn Expo Hall were three stages that offered presentations focused on eLearning tools, emerging technologies, and mobile learning solutions. Personally, I found the demo on how to introduce interactivity to my Storyline videos to be the most immediately useful, and I plan to integrate these techniques into my next course.

There was plenty of fun built in. The first evening we had a party—excuse me, reception—in the Expo Hall. The second night was a Demo Fest where 80 individuals, teams, and vendors displayed their solutions to eLearning challenges in such diverse areas as onboarding, performance support, and blended learning. There were many opportunities to compete for prizes such as iPads. Afterwards, of course, there’s Vegas with its fountains, restaurants, and (depending on your stamina) shows to enjoy.

My personal take-aways from the convention fall into these areas:

  • New Tools: We’re using Articulate Storyline for new products, but we decided to upgrade our iSpring suite to provide a new codec and HTML5 (Mobile) support for our legacy courses. We decided to trial the LaunchCycle product for project tracking, so we can run our expanding department as a professional shop. We’re also looking into alternatives to our LMS; many cloud-sourcing options might be a viable alternative from investing in a specific system.
  • Apply learning theory: I’m looking at creating shorter, more interactive modules. We’ve been aiming for the 7-to-9 minute mark; I’d like to reduce this by a couple of minutes and introduce more games and exercises. I’d also like to spread out the learning experience to engage long-term memory, which would result in better retention. I’m investigating some alternate-reality scenarios to give students real-life exercises to solve using their new skills.
  • Improve training content: For competitive audiences such as Sales, we want to add games and friendly competition to the mix. We want to introduce Virtual Training for our advanced courses, building in facilitated student exercises. We also have some storyboarding and creative brief templates to streamline development and reduce production costs. Overall, I want to spin off more courses, so students have a more focused, fun, and effective learning experience.

I’m jazzed about implementing my new ideas. I look forward to attending such an educational event again.

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