Thursday, November 1, 2012

DevLearn: Day 1

I survived the first day of DevLearn! Hooray!

Seriously, I love this convention, but it's more than a bit exhausting, what with all the learning I'm trying to cram into my brain.

I've been live tweeting the day's events (@EGeeking), but here's the quick highlights of the sessions I attended:

1) Keynote - Braving A New World: Innovation in Avatar and What Lies Ahead
Speaker: Jon Landau
What does a movie producer have to say about learning? As it turns out, quite a lot. Landau got everyone kind of giddy as he talked about how we're ALL creators. His talk focused on how you push towards innovation... mostly through having vision beyond your current options as well as surrounding yourself with others who also want to constantly push the boundaries of what can be done.

This was an excellent way to start the day. It seemed like everyone left the session charged with the desire to innovate or die trying.

2) Applying the Magic of Hollywood to eLearning
Speaker: Tom Graunke
Want eLearning that's memorable and engaging? Graunke says that you should learn from the stickiness of commercials and movie trailers. It's hard not to pay attention to the way these pieces of media use quick clips, memorable imagery, emotionally-charged music, high quality sound and lighting, and, above all, polished and condensed storytelling to catch people's attention and stick in their memories.

There's no reason we can't do many of these same things in our eLearning. I think Graunke was overly optimistic about the budgets we're working with, but otherwise his advice was solid (check my Twitter feed for photos of his slide deck).

Graunke also gets a Scooby Snack for having dozens of flash drives to give away that were pre-loaded with his slide deck and video examples. Best piece of con swag so far.

3) Breaking The Shackles of SCORM: Tin Can API Basics
Speaker: Tim Martin
What on Earth is Tin Can after all? Martin sums it up as "a shared language of experience, a way for systems to talk to each other about what people do."

Basically, while SCORM standards have helped have able to move learning content/information around with some amount of ease, the standard is inflexible and out-of-date with how our learners actually learn.

What if instead of just getting completion records and test scores you could also get info on what related articles your learners were reading, what complimentary YouTube videos they were viewing, or what insights they were tweeting about after a lesson? What if you could then use that information to suggest new learning opportunities catered to each learner's passions, create a broad permanent record of a learner's training accomplishments, and, above all, understand the bigger picture of how your learners really ingest and interpret content? The Tin Can API proposes just this. It's still in the early stages, but Tin Can is working to create a system where this data can be collected, sorted, and interpreted.

If it takes off, Tin Can could do a lot to change how schools and companies track when learning takes place and what sources provide that content. It also, like most online tracking, opens up a scary can of worms in terms of personal privacy issues. Tin Can encourages developers to "stay classy" and let people opt-in to reporting, but that's no guarantee that developers always will. That's more than a bit unnerving, especially to those uncomfortable with their school or employer knowing everything about what they're doing.

Completely ridiculous observation: the official Tin Can t-shirts are rather nifty looking. How do I get my hands on one?

4) Building mLearning for iPads Using HTML5 and iBooks Author
Speaker: Jason Baker
This session was basically a walk through of a Mac-only piece of software called Hype that allows you to make HTML5 interactions. It's like Flash-lite for situations where you don't want to use Flash or can't (e.g. For content to be displayed on an iPad). The skill level needed to operate the software is somewhere between creating animations in PowerPoint and creating basic interactions in Flash. So, yeah, not for beginners, but not horrifically intimidating either. Worth investigating if you want to create iPad-friendly custom interactions or basic widgets.

So that was today's sessions. In general, the conference has been fantastic. The sessions have been delightful and the people attending are both insightful and hilarious (check out the #DevLearn hash tag on Twitter for examples. It's seriously worth keeping your eyes on if you can't be here in person). It's exhilarating being at a place full of people as excited about learning and tech as I am.

Check back with me tomorrow while I check out sessions on leadership lessons from West Point, how Google has used gamification and social media in sales training, business lessons from Blackjack (that's rather location-appropriate), and accessibility solutions for screen readers and Braille displays.

But now it's time to sleep.

Happy Halloween everyone! See you in November.

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