Last week I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the 2019 Learning Solution Conference and Expo, with the amazing Vicky Hale. The conference was held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida from March 26 through 28, 2019. It’s one of the largest eLearning conferences in the world and its purpose is to provide the eLearning community with solutions to real problems. The sessions were divided into a variety of categories like tools, gamification, learning platforms, instructional design and more. Each session had a speaker who shared the knowledge gained from their own experiences. Personally, I don’t think there is a more sharing community! At the conference, we had the honor of presenting at two sessions and DemoFest... more on that later!
What could I possibly teach them?
Before attending, I had never spoken at a conference and, as you could imagine, I was extremely nervous. There was a real possibility that I'd be presenting to individuals with more experience than me. I kept assuming they were going to think I was a fraud. However, that wasn’t the case at all. We were pleased to see that participants enjoyed the sessions and engaged us in conversations directly following. We broke up our first presentation, Lessons Learned in Implementing an LMS, into four sections. In each section, we talked about the lessons we learned when implementing our own Learning Management System (LMS) and what we would have done differently had we known what we know now. What I enjoyed most from this session was interacting with the participants and hearing their stories. During our second presentation, The Power of Sound: Simple Tips for Audio Editing, we took the audience through the process of editing an audio file within Adobe Audition or Audacity. We gave them some tips and tricks to make their editing process more efficient.
Even though I went into both presentations thinking I couldn’t possibly teach these industry professionals something they didn’t already know, I realized that we all have different experiences, skills and stories to share. And through this collaboration, we all have something new we can learn.
As I mentioned earlier, we had the honor of showcasing one of our learning solutions in the blended learning category at DemoFest. Our topic was Meeting Needs With Choice: Three-Pronged Accounting Training and we showcased how we used a traditional classroom training, live webinars, and self-study to offer one of our top clients the same course via three different modalities to create a blended learning solution.
We didn’t win for our category, but we did have an awesome time networking and seeing the different projects that were being shown.
What did I learn at the Learning Solutions Conference?
One of the main takeaways for me is that technology is just the tool. I know you were probably expecting something more profound, but honestly that one statement changed something in me. I’m always up for learning about new technologies and figuring out how they work. However, our focus shouldn’t solely be on the technology, but the actual content being taught. The content is what the learner is after… that’s the whole reason they’re taking your course! Technology is just the vessel used to provide the training.
Beyond that revelation, I was able to learn about some really cool topics like xAPI, design tools, serious gaming, accessibility and representation within trainings. The topic that I was most interested in was the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI), which is the specification for sending, storing, and retrieving activity about learning and performance experience. If you have no idea what I just said, don’t worry! I didn’t either when they were first explaining it. It basically records the learner’s experiences—anything you would want to know about your learner, you now can access that information by using xAPI. For instance, you can track when a learner opens a course, answers a question (and which answer they select) and a ton of other experiences. And you don’t need the content to be stored on an LMS to be able to access it. How awesome is that? I went to multiple sessions on this topic and I can’t wait to do more research on it.
Another session that I was excited about was serious gaming, which is an immersive game-based learning experience that feels more like a true game (think video games) than an eLearning. While I am not a serious gamer, I do believe it has a place in eLearning. Some parents would totally disagree with me on this statement, but games can be used as a teaching mechanism. Games are fun, interactive, and attention grabbing. I think the presenter, Andrew Hughes, did an amazing job at explaining how to best use games in online courses. I can’t wait to see how we can incorporate games into our online trainings!
As a professional I need to strive for mastery and not for success. Success means meeting a goal once, but mastery means meeting your goal repeatedly. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to fail a few times along the way. Failure is an important step of the process that aids in learning how to become a master...and should be celebrated, not discouraged!
Lastly, if you wish really hard (or excel in the use of social media) you can meet some of your eLearning stars. Meeting some of the instructional designers that I follow on social media was EPIC! And they were all so nice and open to talking with me. It made the whole experience 10 times better.
If you have the opportunity to attend a conference on a topic about which you are passionate, I highly recommend you go. It was an inspiring and educational experience! Are you attending any conferences this year? If so, what conferences are you attending?
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