DevLearn was different this year. It was fully online, called the “DevLearn Digital Experience” (DDX). Even online, it was a great experience. The sessions were valuable, and there was a sense of energy and community that doesn’t often happen in online events. As part of my reflection, I always try to pull out one or two key ideas from each session. You can also read my recap of week one, including more info about the platform and structure of the online event.
Day 6: 10/26
The Expanding Learning Platform Landscape: Panel Discussion
This was a panel discussion with Adam Weisblatt, Becky Willis, and Steve Foreman. They provided an overview of the differences between an LMS and an LXP, including what features they expect in LXPs. LMS vendors are working to add some of these features, but they tend to still not have the friendlier front end UX of an LXP.
Engaging Learners with Video: Passive and Active Engagement Strategies by Matthew Pierce
It’s always a pleasure to hear from Matt Pierce, who shared a long list of strategies for getting and keeping engagement during videos. Matt noted that one of the biggest reasons people stop watching videos is if they’re not getting the content they expected. That tells us that we both need to provide relevant content, and we need to help set expectations before people even start the video.
Motivation and Learning by Julie Dirksen
I have heard parts of this presentation in a different format previously, but the overview of self-determination theory (SDT) by Deci and Ryan was helpful. Realistically, we probably can’t get people to be intrinsically motivated via training, but we can potentially shift them to be more motivated to change their behavior.
Worst of the Worst Video Watch Party
During the watch parties, folks watched simultaneously and interacted in the chat. These collected videos were some of the “worst of the worst” training, and a fun activity at the end of the day.
Day 7: 10/27
The Business of Learning: A Guild Master Panel
This was a panel with Megan torrance, Frank Nguyen, and Mark Lassoff. One point made was that being able to change helps show more value from training. You can pilot and test. When you review, you have evidence of how well your solutions worked to solve the business problem.
Research Trends with Jane Bozarth and Julie Dirksen
Julie talked about Susan Michie’s COM-B model for motivation and changing behavior. More information on that model is available on The Behavior Change Wheel.
Jane talked about her research review on diversity training. She noted that she found the word “backlash” more in diversity training research than any other topic she has reviewed. Diversity training, in many cases, creates so much resistance that it’s better to do nothing than training.
One way to avoid that backlash is to avoid making it mandatory, especially by using diversity training as punishment for bad behavior. Instead, you can incorporate diversity into other training like communication or onboarding. She also talked about the possibility of having people apply to enroll in a program with limited seats. Essentially, you create scarcity for the training (maybe calling it “understanding differences” or “communicating with everyone” instead of diversity).
Easily Add Interactivity and xAPI Tracking on Video by Jeff Batt
In the past, I have had a number of clients or prospective clients ask how they can collect data about videos. Did people watch them? Did they pause at any specific points? I’ve never had a great answer for those questions (I usually default to “host on Wistia and use their data collection.”)
Jeff Batt shared some other options using xAPI for tracking media events: play, pause, reached halfway, finished. You can use these media events to trigger something else (like sending a record to an LRS or prompting a question).
Jeff provided free templates for creating xAPI wrappers for videos.
Visual Styles that Inspire by Connie Malamed
Connie showed examples of four trending styles: the duotone effect, isometric illustrations, minimalism, and bold typography. The whole structure of this presentation was really helpful. She showed examples of each trend, but then showed how she adapted one specific example of each for elearning. She talked about what she liked about the original and then how she took that inspiration into her own design.
After Hours Buzz on Scenarios
I led a discussion on scenarios. The After Hours Buzz sessions were DevLearn DDX version of the typical Morning Buzz sessions. These are intended to be informal conversations rather than formal presentations. All of the participants had the ability to turn on their cameras and to unmute themselves.
That was the idea anyway. In practice, people were very quiet on these sessions. That was partly due to the platform (if they joined through Attendify rather than through the Zoom app, they often couldn’t unmute). I suspect it was also the effect of having people so used to being passive and not being prepared to unmute.
I had about 20 people attend my Buzz discussion, and I did have a few unmute to either ask or answer questions. We also had some good questions and comments in chat. I ended up doing impromptu demos of Twine and of editing illustrated characters from eLearning Art.
Day 8: 10/28
I skipped the Expo day again to do client work, but I plan to go back to review some recorded sessions later.
Day 9: 10/29
Tips and Tricks to Create Standout Microlearning Videos by Julia Shawver and LaTarshia Wooten
I think I may have seen this presentation (or an earlier version of it) before, but the time estimates were helpful. They provided these benchmarks for creating 60 seconds of each type of video.
- Animated: 20 hours
- Whiteboard: 10 hours
- Compiled: 12 hours
- PowerPoint: 10 hours
- Traditional live video: 40 hours
Those estimates are just for development, excluding pre-production activities like storyboarding and scripting.
Creating Memorable Animated Explainer Videos in 60 Minutes or Less by Sarah Dewar
This was an interesting juxtaposition after the time estimates from the previous session. Sarah Dewar demonstrated how to create a quick video in Camtasia, including crowdsourcing the script live.
The goal was to create something “not fancy, but memorable” as an explainer video. She has tons of samples and tutorials on her YouTube channel.
Curiosity, Discovery, and Learning by Adam Savage
This was another watch party for the recording of Adam Savage’s keynote from a few years ago. He talked a lot about the need for both art and science, stating that “art and science are two different genres of storytelling.”
He also talked about how he’s mediocre at a lot of skills. You can find better carpenters, welders, electricians, etc. However, all those skills are arrows in his quiver for solving problems. I see that in a lot of ID folks too. We’re never going to be as good as graphic design or UX as people who do just that for their jobs. However, being mediocre at UX still helps us solve problems, and having a little skill in a lot of areas helps us connect ideas and people.
Day 10: 10/30
Agile Methods for Instructional Design Projects by Megan Torrance
Megan compared ID to wedding planning. If you’re a wedding planner, you can’t make everyone equally happy. You have to focus on the couple and whoever is paying. Those are the most important members of the audience. In the same way, elearning or other solutions can’t be equally useful to everyone. You have to focus on the needs of a specific audience.
Many of us already iterate a lot in creating elearning (alpha, beta, final, etc.), but we don’t get it in front of actual users until late in the process. This is the big difference in how they manage agile projects: getting it in front of users, gathering feedback, and adapting.
Streamlining Branching Scenario Planning and Design
This was my session. I had worried that by the Friday afternoon on day 10 of the conference that folks would be exhausted and checked out. I thought attendance might be low. Fortunately, 190 people attended my session–a great turnout, especially with 2 other concurrent sessions. The chat was very lively, with several excellent and thought-provoking questions. In fact, some of those questions deserve blog posts of their own (plus, this post is already approaching 1400 words!).
The Next Decade of Instructional Design: A Guild Master Panel
This was a panel discussion with Connie Malamed, Julie Dirksen, Karen Hyder, Karl Kapp, and David Kelly, a solid ending for a great conference.
One recurring theme was the idea that we need shorter feedback loops. We don’t get enough feedback on the solutions we build (or we get the wrong feedback, or we get it too late). Research is good and important; we should be informed by research. But research doesn’t cover everything. It’s very narrow, and the audience in research isn’t usually the same as our audience or context. Getting solutions in front of real users, and then gathering feedback on how well it works, is important. It helps us create better solutions, and it informs us on how to improve in our own jobs.
A great conference experience
Of course, I missed seeing folks in person. I miss getting hugs and eating in restaurants with friends I only see at conferences. But, this was still a great conference experience. It felt much more like a comprehensive conference, rather than just a series of webinars. While I hope that in person conferences will be possible again next year, I would absolutely attend an event like this again. It was a very valuable experience.