Last month, I attended the Learning Solutions 2018 Conference in Orlando. Once again, it was a great experience. I had fun meeting people like Judy Katz, Tracy Parish, Cammy Bean, and Clark Quinn in person who I have known online for years, plus seeing people again from last year.
Now that I’ve had a few weeks to process and reflect, I want to summarize some of what I learned. I did a similar post last year, and it helped me reinforce and remember what I learned. This is my own “spaced repetition” to help me use these ideas. These comments won’t always be the most important thing each speaker said, but one thing I took away from the session and think I can apply in my own work.
Diane Elkins: Microlearning Morning Buzz
One of the things I appreciated from Diane’s discussion was the balanced approach. This wasn’t the “microlearning will solve all of our problems!” hyperbole I see from many sources. We talked about how microlearning is sometimes a solution, sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with other forms of training.
Diane also shared a really great idea for training where you have to meet a certain minimum time to meet a legal or regulatory requirement. Instead of doing lots of content dump (which is sometimes padded to fill the required time), why not do just the minimum content plus a lot of practice and maybe reflection?
As a side note, Diane’s hand puppet demonstrations of pointless conversations with SMEs are hilarious.
Kai Kight: Composing Your World
As a musician and former music educator, it was really fun to hear a session start with violin and to watch the reactions of the audience.
One of the ideas from his keynote was to not get so wrapped up in the notes that you forget who you’re playing for. That applies to our work (and many fields); we have to always keep thinking about the audience and what they need.
Kevin Thorn: Comics for Learning
This was a session I attended specifically because it’s outside of what I normally do for work. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to apply this yet, but thinking about the various visual styles for comics gives me some new ideas.
Kevin shared a ton of research, examples, and resources. One that I need to dig into more is the Visual Language Lab.
Ann Rollins and Myra Roldan: Low-Cost, High-Impact AR Experiences
This was another session where I have no experience with the topic, but was curious to see some possibilities. My biggest takeaway is that several tools for simple AR are pretty affordable and easy enough to get started. Simple things like showing a video or a little information to explain features is very doable. We tested Zappar in the session to create a quick sample, but Layar also looks promising.
Julie Dirksen: Strategies for Supporting Complex Skill Development
I took 5 pages of notes from this session, so this could be several blog posts on its own.
How do you know if something is a skill or not? Is it reasonable to think that someone can be proficient without practice? If not, it’s a skill.
One idea I’m going to start using immediately is for self-paced elearning where I ask learners to type a longer answer. I have been using a model answer to compare as a way to help learners evaluate their own work, which is a good start. Julie talked about giving learners a checklist to guide their self-evaluation even more. I can implement that right now.
Tracy Parish: Free eLearning Design Tools
This was a discussion about free tools and how people use them, based largely on Tracy’s immense list of free tools.
Platon: Powerful Portraits
This was an engaging keynote because he has so many great stories about famous (and not famous) people.
One idea he shared was that if you can get people to see themselves in the story you put forward, maybe you can build bridges to connect people.
Cammy Bean: Architecting for Results
The big idea from this presentation was to think about broader systems for learning. Instead of content in a single event, it’s a journey over time. It’s a mix of what you do before the training, during the training, and after the training, but we often focus just on the middle portion.
The mix is going to be a little different for every program. This model is one way to think about the different pieces.
The simplified version is Prepare – Learn – Practice – Reflect.
Connie Malamed: Design Critique Party
The best thing I took away from this session was actually the protocol for requesting and giving critiques.
The protocol for the designer requesting critique:
- State your objective.
- Walk people through the experience.
- Say what you’d like to get feedback on
- Become an impartial observer
The protocol for giving critique:
If your objective is ____________, then _________ [critique].
Joe Fournier: Novel Writing Tricks
One idea from this session was about how the idea of a theme might apply to learning. The theme ties to the objective. It’s the emotional or value shift in a story. In learning, the theme might be how reporting employee theft is better for everyone.
Panel: Evolution of Instructional Design
This panel included Connie Malamed, Diane Elkins, Kevin Thorn, and Clark Quinn.
Diane Elkins pointed out that in classroom training, we often ask questions that only a few people will answer, and we don’t track them. If it’s OK to do that in classroom training, why not do it in elearning too? It’s OK to ask learners to type longer answers even though some of them will skip it. Let’s not punish the people who are willing to do the work and learn more just because we can’t track it or not everyone will do it.
David Kelly moderated the panel, and he pointed out how our field has a lot of “shiny object syndrome.” We’re often looking for “one tool to rule them all” that will fix every problem in every situation. That just doesn’t exist.
David Kelly: Shifting from Microlearning to Micromoments
There is no definition of microlearning. There are lots of opinions, some of which are labeled as definitions.
Maybe we should be thinking about micro as in microscope: something that narrows the scope of focus to a tiny part of the whole.
Bethany Vogel & Cara Halter: cMOOCs can be Effective
They used Intrepid Learning as the platform, which may be worth exploring more.
In their model, a MOOC is a time-bound online program that contains highly contextualized spaced, micro, and social learning. “Massive” and “Open” aren’t really part of their model, so I admit I’m not sure why they’re calling it a MOOC (other than that’s what their clients are asking for). I think you could do this same model with moderated social, spaced learning and call it “blended” or a “journey.” The experience was good, even if I might quibble with the label.
You can get a feel for the conference here.