It’s hard to think of now, but last week I was at the Learning Solutions conference. And I had a really great time. I didn’t see as much as I’d like (as you ‘ll see, I was busy), but there were some really worthwhile learnings, and some fun as well. Here are my conference reflections.
For the first time, I rented a scooter. That was a learning all in itself. I’d been having pain, and walking was the worst. The scooter was a way to address that, and it did. I scooted around and avoided much walking. Not all, but a lot. And it was fun to zoop around, but…it was hard to maneuver in small spaces. Like the necessary elevators. And my room. I tried to slow down and do it carefully, and that worked to an extent, but it wasn’t pretty.
The great part was that, having heard of my plight, some friends descended upon my ride and tarted it up with glitter and dangly things. And, best of all, caution tape. Very appropriate. Very much appreciated! And it wasn’t even too hard to take off at the end.
Thus, I was happy to zoom to my room to run my pre-conference workshop on learning experience design. It was designed as an integration of Engaging Learning and the Serious eLearning Manifesto. I snuck a bit of ‘transformation‘ in there as well. The evaluations aren’t back yet, but I think overall it achieved the purpose. One attendee later suggested an improvement that I’d agree on (allowing learners to choose from the topics to workshop on). Always learning!
That evening, we did something I’d never done, Presentation Roulette. The speakers (I agreed to be one, without having seen it before; I do like experimenting [read: living dangerously]) choose a random title out of a sock (well, it was clean) and are then given a deck that Bianca Woods of the Guild had developed for that title, including the silliest pictures she could find on the web. As she describes it, a mashup of presentations and improv comedy. It was very fun, and in particular extremely funny; the other presenters did great jobs. I’ll attend again even if I don’t present!
Tuesday was a normal day (e.g. I didn’t present). As usual, I mindmapped the keynotes (several posts back), cruised the floor, and attended some sessions. The panels were good. I attended the one on the Future of ID, and the comments were insightful about how the tools and goals were changing. Similarly the one on the Future of Work had a convergent message I resonated with, that we need to focus on using tech to augment us on the stuff we’re good at, not try to fight off automation of rote tasks. I also took some time off for calls and work.
That evening, after dinner, some friends and colleagues (they’re the same folks) came over to my suite. (I have gotten lots of accommodations for my situation; and I’m very grateful.) Fueled by libations, we proceeded to gin up an evil plan to control the world (or at least the market). Politically correct it wasn’t, fun it was. Too late to bed.
The next day I was part of the Guild Master panel with about 14 participants. Too many! Great thoughts, and I tried to stifle myself and only make the most cogent points. Apparently I still spoke a little too much. I blame it on this blogging, it gives me lots of thoughts. :) The points I wanted to make were, not surprisingly, about the need for getting back to basics in learning design, and to look beyond optimal execution to continual innovation.
I also sat in an ARK Kit presentation. It made AR seem almost within reach. At this time you still do need some coding, but if it progresses like many tools, much will soon become at a higher level of ability to describe what you want and make it so.
I still wasn’t done, as later that day I also gave my ‘professionalism and myths’ talk. The audience was small but enthusiastic. I do believe we made some converts. I added in not just debunking myths, but how to talk to folks who buy into it. There’s a little learning science in it as well. We really do need to be on a sound basis before we can have credibility.
I have to say, delightedly, that I continue to have folks say that my books have helped them. Different books for different folks, but something I love to hear. As an author, you get some idea of the sales, but none of the impact. Some of these were small effects, and some were “I’ve used this to change my/our practice.” That’s what it’s about, after all, you write a book to effect change. I’m grateful for those who share this insight! In particular, I hear lots of folks using the Myths book in their orgs to counter employees/customers’ misguided intentions. The Revolution book still (or, perhaps, now) has influence. And I still hear about the Games book!
I also slipped away with some more conspirators and experienced The Void. It was hard on my legs (I went with cane, not scooter), mostly because they didn’t have anywhere to sit while you waited!?!?! (I gave them a serve in the too-long post-experience survey.) However, it’s very cool: a compelling experience and great implications for learning. Embedded performance? That would be ‘yes’.
The keynotes, by the way, were excellent AND… I’ve heard over the years that conference organizers say it’s hard to have diversity in speakers. All white males (e.g. me ;), or at least white. This time, there were two women, and two blacks, out of three people. With good messages. It was inspiring to hear and to see! Kudos to David Kelly and the Guild for managing to debunk the barrier.
There was some discussion of whether there was a place for those who proselytize learning science or it was all going commercial and cheap. I feel like there’s a growing interest in the science, but I’m frequently a year or several ahead of the market. In this case, I want to yell “make me right!” This is a field I care about, and we can be doing so much good. I want us to capitalize on that potential. There were new folks looking for solutions and the opportunity to grow. I hope we can make that happen in a positive direction.
Overall, it was a success. I had time with smart colleagues, saw interesting sessions, and met new folks. I presented and got feedback, which is a great cycle. And it was another chance to immerse myself in the state of the industry. Here’s to continual improvement.