DevLearn 2012 Review

This year's eLearning Guild DevLearn 2012 conference kicked off on Halloween in Las Vegas. Yes, people were dressed in costume – from superheroes to babushkas.  You think you’ve seen it all… and then you go to an elearning conference!

Keynotes included John Landau, the Producer of well-known films including Titanic, Avatar and Dick Tracy, and Allison Levine, team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition. John Landau shared the insight that it’s the emotional connection of a movie that makes it great and encouraged the group to do the same with elearning. He also encouraged the audience to let ideas lead to technology innovation vs letting technology lead the process.

Allison Levin shared her inspirational story and the lessons she learned along the way. These included:

  1. Learn to do more with less
  2. Keep asking questions until you ask the right one
  3. Don’t let fear deter you from your goals
  4. Fear is ok – complacency will kill you. You can’t afford to stand still in an environment that is constantly changing
  5. Mitigate risk by studying the mistakes of those who came before you
  6. Break really big stuff into smaller bites

Kineo do the talking

The Kineo team had a busy booth on the expo floor, where we talked to people about custom learning and our open source Totara LMS (a corporate distribution of Moodle).

Cammy Bean participated in a panel with Koreen Olbrish, Janet Clarey, Jane Bozarth, and Jeannette Campos on New Emerging Tech. This was a lively and innovative format with Jeanette joining live via Skype and Jane Bozarth on Twitter. The audience joined in the Twitter chat, which was projected on a screen behind Janet Clarey, Koreen Olbrish and Cammy. Every five minutes, Koreen threw out a new topic -- from QR codes (hot or not?) to 3D printers.

On Wednesday afternoon, Steve Lowenthal presented at the Management Xchange Stage on Developing eLearning in a Multi-Device World. He facilitated a discussion about the challenges and implications of living in a multi-device world. Based on the give and take of the session, more and more organisations need to account for tablets and smartphones in their elearning strategy and approaches like responsive elearning design are growing in importance.

Also on Wednesday afternoon, Jonathan Newman presented at the Management Xchange stage on The Self-managing LMS: Machine Learning and its Applications in Learning and Development. He talked about how machine learning is amplifying the capabilities and performance of individual humans in the workforce, as well as automating the administration of the LMS. The audience asked lots of great questions, prompting discussions about interconnections with the Experience API, the quantified-self movement, Big Data, privacy, and digital tutors.

Thursday afternoon, Cammy presented a concurrent session: Putting the Design Back into Instructional Design. She had everyone closing their eyes and imagining "good design": forks and phones and Harry Potter rides came to mind. Not surprisingly, elearning examples were not the first thing to pop into people's minds. The group talked a lot about Design with a big D and then came back to elearning and what we can all do to be better DESIGNERS of elearning. View Cammy’s slides on slideshare.

Thursday afternoon/evening was all about DemoFest. Kineo shared a demo of our new Responsive Elearning Design Framework (RED) - all HTML5. If you want to know more about RED, check out a webinar presentation that Steve Rayson did last month.

The downside of presenting something at DemoFest is you can't wander around and see what everyone else is doing. We did get to check out some interesting work at the next table over that Reuben from EdCetra Trainingshowed off: a responsive onboarding program developed as an "app store”. Each app is a short onboarding exercise and the whole thing is built off the TinCan Experience API.

On Friday, Steve and Jonathan co-presented a concurrent session titled Open Source, User-Centric and Mind Blowing. They walked through the process of user interface design and art direction in a wide variety of user cases for platforms including an enterprise-wide LMS, a public customer education platform, a retailer product training system, and an online education tool designed to supplement the learning approached offered in a best-selling self-improvement book.

TinCan, iBooks and finding your inner rock star

Friday morning we listened to a panel on TinCan - "Everything you ever wanted to know..." And while it may not have answered everything you want to know about the new Experience API and what many are calling "the new SCORM", it was useful to hear some real world examples and listen to the questions of real developers who are trying to figure out what the impact of this will be. There's a lot of hype about TinCan at the moment... and a lot of confusion. Our message to people: no need to panic. This will take time.

Cammy then sat in on a session with Sharon Boller (@sharon_boller) on converting a PC-based elearning course to an iBook. We've been playing around with iBook Author recently (stay tuned for our Top Tips soon in iBook format!) and think it could really meet the needs of a lot of what gets produced as elearning these days. Sharon did a nice job presenting their design process and the finished output. Learn more about their project and download a demo from the Bottom Line Performance site.

The closing keynote wrapped up with a hilarious eLearning Guild documentary. The final speaker, Dayna Steele, urged us to find our inner rock stars and to be nice to each other.  Karma pays off, man.

If you want to learn more about the conference, be sure to follow up with the Learning Solutions Magazine recap.

Of course, the most memorable bits of the conference are the informal hallway chats, the late night beer of elearning conference, and the Las Vegas experience. Hard to capture those in a post-conference report (and perhaps best to leave that to the imagination!)

We’re looking forward to the next eLearning Guild conference: Learning Solutions in Orlando in March 2013.

See you there...