Last week, I attended and presented at TICE 2022 (Training Industry Conference & Expo). This is the first time I have attended any Training Industry event. It was also the first time the conference has been back to in person since the beginning of the pandemic. This is a local conference for me, hosted in Raleigh, NC, about 30 minutes from home. It was great to meet up with several people I had previously only met online.
As with other conferences, I try to review my notes afterwards to pull out a few key insights. This helps me remember what I learned, and helps share the ideas with those who couldn’t attend.
Learning Leaders’ Priorities and Challenges
Ken Blanchard shared research results about what learning leaders consider their priorities and challenges. The top 3 priorities were:
- Learner experience
Compliance/safety make sense; it’s not surprising that this is a priority for what needs to be done. Diversity/inclusion also weren’t a surprise to me, since that is a big push in training currently (even if a lot of the DEI training doesn’t really work).
I was a little surprised to see learner experience rank so high among the priorities though. The survey results also emphasized the importance and challenge of keeping learners engaged, which I think is tied to that learner experience.
Connecting and Engaging Your Audience in a Remote World
Cindy Parker and John Abel presented on their lessons learned from switching to vILT during the pandemic. They had some interesting approaches, including building a studio to record in and using two presenters plus a virtual producer.
One of the best insights I got from the session was actually from when they asked the audience about the positives about shifting to remote. While there was plenty of grumbling about remote training, multiple people chimed in about the positives in their organizations. For example, now it’s easier for every training to have a translation and/or live transcript. Remote workers also feel more connected to their coworkers and organizations than they had in the past.
Post-COVID-19 EdTech Landscape: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Stella Lee’s keynote on trends in edtech was balanced. While a lot of the conversations on edtech can be either naively glowing or depressingly cynical, Stella discussed both the good and bad in the industry.
One point I thought was important is that many of us have spent years trying to convince organizations to shift online. But now, we don’t have to prove that edtech is needed. They already see the why. Now we can shift the conversations to the how and the what. Edtech is a fast-growing industry, and the need isn’t going away even as we shift to the next phase of the pandemic.
The Art of Professional Wrestling: Becoming a Storytelling Champ
While I don’t watch professional wrestling, I do understand that it has some compelling storytelling. This session focused on the ways different wrestlers create memorable personas. Specifically, the presenters shared examples of how wrestlers create multisensory emotional experiences through personas, catch phrases, costumes, music, swag, and even food. That would be challenging to replicate in online learning though.
However, some of the other storytelling tactics were easier to connect to training.
- Characters who are overly positive can be boring and not memorable.
- Specific details make characters stand out.
- Exaggeration and characters that are “larger than life” can be engaging.
- Getting better at storytelling takes practice.
- Don’t fear failure; we learn through failure. Try something, and then adjust if it’s not working the way you want.
Roundtable discussion on communicating with stakeholders
During the roundtable discussions, you could pick a table and focus on a specific topic. This was a valuable conversation on challenges communicating with stakeholders. I didn’t catch the name of the person who said it, but I wrote down this great quote:
I can’t enable a strategy you can’t articulate.
Of course, sometimes, we need to be the ones coming up with the strategy. But, some of the most frustrating projects I have had were the ones where a particular stakeholder had a vision for what they wanted–but they couldn’t articulate it.
My session on engaging learners with scenarios
My session was titled: Go Beyond Boring: Creating Scenario-Based Learning that Engages Participants. This was an updated version of a past presentation I have given a few times before. I had a full room with good questions. Other than a few technical glitches like the clicker flaking out halfway through my presentation and my Slido polls not quite working on the provided laptop, I was fairly happy with how it went. Several people commented afterwards that they picked up some tips they can use in their work.
You Don’t Belong Here, You’re Different!
A lot of what I have seen in the past about creating a sense of belonging in the workplace is either very abstract or requires high level, strategic and systematic organizational change. But Wendy Gates Corbett provided a list of very concrete, achievable actions to support belonging. Her strategies are deliberately simple so people can do something no matter what role they’re in. For example, sharing fun and funny moments is a way to help people feel connected (and a strategy that works even when working remote).
Wendy has been posting these strategies on Twitter and LinkedIn, so you can follow her to get more details. Plus, she gave out bubbles, and we all shared a moment of joy together blowing bubbles at the end of her session.
Drips, Bots, and Blogs: A Non-Traditional Approach to Learning
Shannon Tipton shared a worksheet and process for planning “drip-feed learning,” or a scheduled delivery of chunked content to support spaced learning. I liked the idea of treating the drips like a story and keeping people engaged by making them curious about what happens next. Her worksheet and process will be a useful tool for planning in the future when I have a client interested in this approach.
Overall, I think the TICE conference is a solid choice for people who spend most of their time creating or facilitating instructor-led training, whether in the classroom or vILT. There were plenty of trainers and instructional designers there to network with. Plus the smaller conference (around 400 people) provided opportunities to meet a large portion of the attendees. One of my big goals for the conference was to meet some more local L&D professionals, and I was definitely able to achieve that at TICE 2022.
The next Training Industry event is a virtual event on October 12-13, 2022.
If you’re interested in my presentations, check out the recordings of many of my past presentations.