Learning Solutions Conference 2012 – Day 1


Last year, I went to Learning Solutions with the expectation of learning about mLearning, but instead got a “brain bomb” about social media and storytelling/gamification in eLearning. It was full-on fascination from the first keynote speaker to the last. I expected the same this year. There were a lot of interesting speakers today, but it was not quite the explosion of new and exciting information I received last year. It may be a combination of the track of Expo presentations I took or it may be that I am a little older and wiser this year. Either way, it was beneficial and I think the fruits of the seeds planted thus far will show themselves a few years from now.

I think the key thought from this conference is going to be “the role of the Instructional Designer is starting to shift and our skill sets will need to grow and morph”.

John Maeda – Keynote Speaker

This presentation was about leadership and being able to “see the winds” and react to them. It was also about something that I thought was a very interesting perspective on education (and very happy to hear). He opened with something that I actually have spoken about in an as-of-yet unpublished article for this blog. It has to do with the statement “there is no “I” in team. There are a lot of “I’s” in individual. There is also a “we” in welcome”. He also spoke of Marshall Ganz, Harvard professor, who promotes the Leadership story as three stories – 1) the story of self, 2) the story of we/us, and 3) the story of NOW. He pointed out a few things that disrupt and change how the world reacts – “the wind”. For example, the fact that college and medical costs are up and the median income is down, company organizations have morphed into networks of people, and in 2000, for the first time, references to high priced colleges (Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) have dipped in literature. He also pointed out that the role of a leader is to make connections between people and resources (many times they may be other people).

The thing he talked about that was most interesting to me was the concept of converting STEM to STEAM. STEM represents the educational disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The extra A represents Art. His primary point is that we are at a time where Engineering and Art/Design need to merge to create innovation. He stated that Art is about creating questions and asking why or why not. It forces us to thing. Design is about people and creating solutions. It is about problem solving and has to do with form and content. Innovation is the convergence of art and design. Essentially we are at a time in history where art and science are about to converge to create a new vision of the future.

For more information on the STEM to STEAM project, check out www.stemtosteam.org.

Here is a museum dedicated to this intersection of science and art – http://www.exploratorium.edu/

Project Tin Can

This was the first presentation that caught my imagination. This is the evolution of the SCORM standard. Imagine not having to pre-launch an LMS. Imagine a single log-in into your computer and it just captures everything relative to training. Imagine being able to track comments and posting into social media or the reading of a blog article or even a book (probably an epub…but a book anyway). Imagine simply “doing your day-to-day doings” and having it register in your learning record.

This is the promise of the new iteration of SCORM.

It is verb driven. The list will have a bunch of pre-defined verbs related to the training function, but your organization can extend the list based on your specific need. Examples of verbs include taught, learned, read, commented, and posted. The organization developing this new iteration is ADL. Their goal is to be able to identify who the top performers in an organization are, why they are the top performers, and share the path these individuals took to be the top performer. This adjusts the role of the Instructional Designer. No longer are we just designing activities, but we are designing the EXPERIENCE of the activity. This means we need to start thinking about suggestion engines, much like Google and Amazon. The only difference is that these engines are excellent at getting people to do more of what they already do. Training requires something a bit different – reflection points and serendipity.

My eyes widened and imagination ran when I heard that there would be an Application interface that our developers could embed in our primary software we sell. Then, our clients’ actual work becomes their learning. Our clients are bankers, so imagine being a teller at a bank and having the Learning Management System be able to “ding” when I processed 250 withdrawals, each taking no less than 3 minutes each. The system now records the act of doing my job as a level of minimum competency and it can recommended further training since I passed this benchmark.

To learn more about Project Tin Can, visit this site: http://scorm.com/tincan/

Jane Bozarth

Jane always has interesting facts and free tools to offer that make life just a little easier. Here is her list of the Top 10.

1) Image Supported Collaboration Tools that support visual learning

2) Twitter – I saw a lot of people tweeting their notes from the conference. This lets others see them and makes them available later.

3) Facebook – Did you know that there are more daily Farmville users than the entire population of France? Don’t you wish your eLearning was that “sticky”? The trick with Facebook is that you must participate for it to be functional – you can’t just put up a page and hope people come. She suggested using it to support your courses. She also mentioned that customers hate homegrown apps because there is a fear of “big brother” watching. They already use Facebook.

4) Tools that make life easier – she promoted Hipmunk (sorts travel results by agony level) and World Time Buddy

5) Curation tools – This is an emerging role in the learning industry. She promoted:

6) Google Docs – the best way to sell this is to just find a real problem and solve it.

7) PowerPoint – we all have it and it is the workhorse of the industry.

8) Skype – The allows you to make unique connections that you would not be able to typically make. How about skyping with a remote expert during a class session?

9) Performance Support Apps

10) The Cloud – Storage/Dropbox, music, anything (I will discuss the cloud further in my post)

BONUS) Human Beings – New roles
• Participant/Sharer
• Curator
• Community Manager – don’t supervise students and understand that quality of contacts is more important than quantity
• Social Media Ambassador
• Voice of Reason – trust your people! It is cheaper and more rewarding than controlling them

Nick Floro – Project Management

Honestly, there was not a lot of new information here. His big push was for prototyping. He offered some sites that assisted with this.

• Keynotekungfoo.com
• Imockups

He also discussed the process of brainstorming and offered up these tools.

• LaunchCycle – this is a tool his company built
• Ideapaint.com – whiteboard paint for any wall


I came late to this presentation, but there was something interesting…OpenBadge. I am going to be real honest here…I don’t know much about this, but it seems like something I want to learn more about. If you know anything or want to learn, please share what you know with me. Supposedly, you can embed these in your learning and they live outside your environment, so your learners can share them on other social platforms.


The Cloud – eLearning On-Demand

Welcome to the brain-burner topic. This is the one I knew the least about and it looks to potentially have the largest impact…down the road.

Simply put…the cloud = the internet.

Here are two videos they shared – one about the cloud and another about Big Data.

It will be very hard to describe this…so I will try and probably fail. Admittedly, I am not any kind of expert on this, so take everything I describe and attempt to decipher it for yourself. I don’t think I am far off, but it may be enough to create confusion.

A cloud application has a primary instance, also termed “mother hen”. An online, cloud-based LMS, for example. If you sign up with them, they might replicate the “mother hen” with an instance for your organization. As a service, they might do this over and over for other organizations. When there is an update to the LMS application, they update the primary instance and it filters down to all instances. You can customize the instances independently for items such as logos and branding or specific feature sets. This type of environment allows you to save money since you are buying the service, not the hardware.

Today, when we create a course, we create a self-contained course. It has all the pieces of content and it we deliver it as a complete entity. In the cloud, each piece is separate and unique. This creates a completely different way we need to study analytics. So, if a learner searches for a topic, they might get a document from here, a PowerPoint presentation from there, a blog post from there, and a video or activity from yet somewhere else. This is now a customized learning experience rather than a pre-packaged course.

What this means is that your content becomes platform agnostic. Your organization would create the rules for delivery and the manner in which a platform displays this content (a web page versus a smart phone versus a tablet). For example, you might have a term as a piece of content. That term has the “term” and the “definition of the term”. You would define these and then define that “terms” are bold and “definitions” are italicized and indented. You might define that if the platform is a smart phone, the cloud wraps the content in HTML 5.

Again, this creates a new role for the learning industry – Supply Chain Manager.

One thing that became very clear is that this also means that Training teams will need to have a programmer at their disposal to create these content definitions and display methods. I expect that we will see vendors start to make this type of process easier as we move toward this type of delivery method.

In Summary

As you can see, there was a lot of interesting things to discuss. However, my biggest disappointment was that none of them are immediately accessible in my daily role. I can see that there is an impact with these advances coming over the next few years and our skills will need to grow and change. This, to me, was the crux of the day. I am looking forward to some interesting growth in our field!


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