Five “A-ha” Moments from DevLearn 2019
Five “A-ha” Moments from DevLearn 2019

Five “A-ha” Moments from DevLearn 2019

I recently got back from several exciting, engaging, and enlightening days in Las Vegas at DevLearn. DevLearn is a large Learning and Development conference that focuses on up-and-coming technologies that will shape the future of the field.

From DevLearn’s site:

Every new technology goes through a hype cycle during which we, as an industry, explore the possibilities, put ideas into practice, discover what works and what doesn’t, and bring some level of standardization that helps mainstream adoption. But in order for that to happen, we need a place for industry leaders to connect, share, and collaborate on ideas and projects that foster growth and innovation."

DevLearn is that place. The collaborative atmosphere built by the awesome community of professionals in attendance was like nothing I have experienced before. I am back at work this week feeling inspired and eager to breathe new creativity into my projects.

My DevLearn experience

Two of my rockstar GAAP D colleagues, LaTarshia and Vicky, were accepted to facilitate two concurrent sessions, as well as present at DemoFest. My own DevLearn speaking debut took place with ten other wonderful presenters during a mini presentation called Tools, Apps, and Online Resources: Community Favorites.

Between facilitating, we also got to attend multiple informative presentations on augmented reality, upcoming design trends, implementing xAPI, programming eLearning using HTML5, and many other topics. We also got to hear thought-provoking keynote speeches from Sophia the Robot and Talithia Williams.

I came away from the conference with lots of new insights and ideas. I’d like to share with you five of the inspirational moments I experienced at DevLearn that left me feeling excited to get back to work on Monday.

1. Technology has come a long way… but we still have a ways to go

In her keynote speech, Sophia the Robot spoke about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the L&D field and how AI will allow humans to focus on roles that showcase the uniquely human benefits they bring to the workforce. By taking over manual labor and repetitive tasks, AI will help free up humans’ time to focus on more creative endeavors. (Yes, you read that right. Robots will probably not take your job. Still not convinced? Check out this website.)

I was surprised to learn that Sophia’s speech was written by her human team members at Hanson Robotics, and rehearsed a few times before delivery. After her speech, the executive director of the eLearning Guild, David, went “off-script” and interviewed Sophia with questions that were not pre-planned. There were some awkward long pauses, and a couple times where it was clear that Sophia didn’t quite “understand” the question asked of her. It was interesting (and a little relieving!) to learn that AI isn’t as advanced as I initially thought.

From Sophia:

The team that supports me continues to add new functionality to my systems, and my ability to use AI in my interactions with humans grows all the time. But the truth is I still have much to learn, and my abilities to effectively function autonomously are still in their infancy. But like any learner, the more new experiences I can participate in and learn from, the more I grow."

Still, the strides technology has made in recent years are incredible. The entire premise of an artificially intelligent social robot was probably unfathomable just a couple of decades ago, and now Sophia is a reality. Isn’t that exciting?

2. Like Apple, think different

In one of the sessions I attended, Case Study: How a Small Part of Ally is Using AR in a BIG Way, the speaker, Betty Dannewitz of Ally Insurance, encouraged participants to spark creativity by looking at problems from different angles. Betty described her company's need to make learning about insurance more fun and exciting and walked us through their solution of implementing the emerging technology of Augmented Reality (AR) in training endeavors.

Betty also discouraged the mindset (read: excuse) that can run rampant in some organizations: The idea that things should be done a certain way "because we've always done it that way." This mindset is lazy, and it squashes creativity, ingenuity, and fun.

This interactive session was one of my favorites because it really got my wheels turning about how I can be more innovative at work (and in other areas of my life!). What can I bring to the table that’s different than what has been done before?

3. There are multiple ways to bake a cake

Piggy-backing off #2, a third “A-ha” moment occurred for me during a session on Creating Interactive eBooks, where I learned how to create an eBook using a completely different method from how I have previously done it. (Have you checked out our PCAOB eBook yet?) Throughout the conference, I found myself in awe over and over again at the multitude of ways there are to get to one end goal, whether it be programming an eLearning course or publishing an eBook.

And just as there are multiple ways to bake a cake, there are multiple ways to teach a topic. For example, I attended a few different sessions that mentioned the implementation of xAPI, and each presenter taught just a little bit differently. This would also hold true if the delivery method changed; anyone familiar with the world of L&D knows that just because one teaching method works well in the classroom, doesn’t mean that method will suit a digital environment.

4. Failure is inevitable

Another key takeaway for me that popped up in several of the sessions I attended centered around failure. Many of the presenters touched on all the ways they failed before being successful, or at least starting on the path to success, during their various presentations. There will always be slip-ups and roadblocks along the way of any goal worth attaining, but the key is to continue learning from your mistakes instead of letting them stop you from succeeding.

In fact, during their presentation on Lessons Learned from Implementing an LMS, Vicky and LaTarshia spoke about many of our own blunders during the set-up of our Learning Management System. It’s always reassuring to hear that you’re not alone – no one is perfect the first time around! One of the greatest things about the eLearning community is that they’re not afraid to share their failures, so hopefully others can learn from their mistakes and start with a leg up.

5. We’re all in this together

As I mentioned before, it was incredible to come together with thousands of other eLearning professionals to discuss the field we’re all passionate about. The feeling of community and the bonds forged from shared experiences were pretty special, and I am so thankful to have been able to attend – and to have an employer who takes the continued learning and development of its employees seriously! (Did I mention we’re hiring?)

If you haven’t attended DevLearn before, start planning your trip for next year! Learn new tips and tricks on topics you’re familiar with or dip your toe in at a session on a subject you haven’t delved into yet; Hear inspiring keynotes from industry leaders and collaborate with your peers. It’s crucial to make time for cultivating creativity and inspiration, and attending DevLearn is a great way to do this!


This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.

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