Saturday, May 29, 2010

This Week at the Technology Assisted Learning Conference...

I spent the first half of this week in Chicago at Corporate University's Technology Assisted Learning Conference.  The conference was small, but impactful.  It provided a nice mix of presentations by industry thought leaders pointing out near-horizon future directions, and case examples from practitioners who are making good use of currently available technologies for their learners today.  As an added benefit, the conference was co-located with Social Media for Recruitment. Both conferences' schedules were aligned to allow for networking.   And although the conference was small, it did attract a wide range of attendees, including participants from a variety of industries (Finance, Real Estate, Technology) and geographies (Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands).  I was proud to be listed among a great group of speakers that included Allison Rossett, Tony O'Driscoll, and Charles Beckham each of whom delivered presentations that lived up to expectations to be the highlights of the event.

Dr. Rossett started things off with a keynote address on creating engaging elearning.  She shared practical advice organized into a list of "5 Essentials" which I summarized in my notes as:  The Right Stuff (relevant content), Guidance (providing certainty through clear navigation and instructions), Active (setting the level of challenge in the zone of proximal development), Relationships and Connectivity (capturing the power of the social experience), and There When Needed (clear, accessible, nothing unrelated).  Shortly afterwards, Tony O'Driscoll took the podium to bring us all into the immersive world of Learning in 3D as described in the book he co-authored with Karl Kapp (who's pre-conference workshop I unfortunately missed.)  Towards the end of the day Charles Beckham walked us through applications for the new social learning community platform, Jambok.

These were the expected highlights of the event.   However, sandwiched in and around these presentations were case studies highlighting technology applications in learning from a variety of companies.  I got to kick things off in the opening slot on day two with a case on our virtual approach to onboarding.  It was such a pleasure to be able to share the work we are doing with others in the learning community.  With that out of the way, I enjoyed presentations highlighting practices at The Nielsen Company (global learning community of practice), Harley Davidson (global elearning translation and deployment - and very high on the cool factor), excellRx, Inc. (using avatars - without making them too creepy!), AIMCO (creating cheap, effective, viral video) and others.

All in all, it was a blast.  This was Corporate University's first Technology Assisted Learning Conference.  I have a feeling it is an event that will grow in popularity over time.

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