Greetings from Learning Solutions

Hello from the eLearning Guild Learning Solutions in Orlando Florida!

I have been here for a few days, and it has been time extremely well spent. Below, I posted a few videos of my time here. It is difficult to capture the entirety of the conference with a phone, but you will see the highlights.

Learning Solutions Day One

I hit my goal of not skipping sessions on day one. The sessions I found most applicable are:

  1. Seven design principles of Van Gogh.  We learned to apply Van Gogh’s artistic principles to our training design. I will be applying these principles to my instructional design in the future which mostly consisted of using what you have and implementing social-alone learning – which is social learning combined with independent learning.
  2. The “bring your own device” session for low-cost augmented reality. The facilitators demonstrated three low-cost AR software and walked us through one called Zapper. I am excited to play more with Zapper back at the office and apply it to projects.

I recommend always attending the social events. I had a 12-hour day on Tuesday and very little motivation to go socialize. With a little encouragement, I went to the evening reception and met a lot of great people. After the reception, the Guild held a game night they called Game Crawl where you could sample games and socialize with peers. One of the Guild employees, Dave, even brought a game he developed with his son for us to test.

Learning Solutions Day Two

Day two was great! The sessions that resonated with me the most involved:

  1. A panel discussion on running virtual-instructor led training (VILT) that really put into perspective the realities of a distracted world and how to manage a virtual classroom. I found this useful for VILT facilitation I will do as well as writing courses for VILT.
  2. A graphic design course for non-graphic designers that where we looked at layout, fonts, colors, and basics for IDs who find themselves struggling to make something pretty. It was simple and I see a lot of application for slide design in the future.

If there is a good reason to skip a keynote, I can’t think of it. Both Learning Solutions keynote speakers were phenomenal. I hadn’t heard of either speaker before this week, and now, I will never forget Kai Kight or Platon. I was moved to tears in the morning’s presentation as were nearly everyone in the crowd.

I am off to finish the conference. Do you have questions or advice about speaking at or attending Learning Solutions or any other conference? Let’s talk about it in the chat!

Academics May Be The Least Patriotic Presenters On The Face Of The Earth

John Hancock

John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence was written so big because he was the president of the Continental Congress. The fact is, his was the only signature necessary to make the document official. Everyone signed the Declaration in a sign of solidarity.”

These were the words from a tour guide last Saturday as my family and I wrapped up our vacation in New England by walking part of the Freedom Trail. This information about John Hancock was new to me, and the tour guide didn’t stop there. He went on to say: “John Hancock had bigger ambitions. In fact, he expected to be named general of the Continental Army. After all, his fortune helped bankroll the army’s expenses in the early days of the American Revolution. There was only one problem… he didn’t have any military experience.”

Can you imagine how world history may have been different if the Founding Fathers of the United States had acquiesced to John Hancock’s ego and named a passionate, rich man dedicated to the cause of the American Revolution (yet without any military training or experience) as the top commander?

The desire to be the commander was, in part, a result of John Hancock’s ego and sense of entitlement. Patriotism and the cause of the American Revolution were only secondary. Ironically, his ego-driven desire to lead the army for a cause he was willing to give his life for (even though he had no experience or expertise in the matter) was itself an act of un-patriotic delusion. Thankfully there were people who understood this and named George Washington as the leader of the Continental Army. The rest is history.

As I listened to this story, I of course thought about learning and development and presentations that people are forced to sit through – either at work or at a conference – on a daily basis. Some presentations are phenomenal. Many are not.  Continue reading

Solve the Crime of the Century (A Training Murder Mystery)

I’ve been reading many upbeat accounts of presentations and experiences during the recent ASTD ICE. But what happens when an industry conference is a terrible experience?

There are a number of learning and development blogs that have recently focused on how to maximize your experience at a conference. The Elearning Guild’s blog, TWIST, has begun a series called “What’s in your conference bag” which highlights ways that various learning professionals prepare for attending a conference. Michelle Baker’s Phase(Two)Learning blog recently ran a contrarian post on ways to have a bad time at a conference. And the Learning Rebels have run a series of posts offering perspectives and take-aways from the recent ASTD ICE. If you or someone you know is getting ready to attend a conference, I highly recommend reading these articles (or passing them along) – tons of tips, ideas and strategies to make the most of your investment in professional development.

As learning professionals, we get pretty psyched about the opportunity to attend training events and conferences. What about the other 99.7% of working professionals? The attorneys who are required to attend workshops to earn CLEs and the medical professionals who go to conferences to earn CMEs? What about the array of other professionals who need to attend training to maintain professional certifications and the employees required to attend industry conferences for whatever other reasons?

While I read a lot of enthusiasm from my colleagues in the training field, I spend the weekends listening to non-training professionals and friends complain about the recent, mind-numbingly boring conferences, symposiums, workshops, compliance training and professional development sessions.

How do training professionals make an impact on the presentation skills of those who do not have words like “training” or “talent development” or “learning” in their title?

Nobody wakes up in the morning and says: “I hope my audience walks away complaining about how boring I was today!” My hypothesis is that many presenters lack the basic awareness of what an amazing learning experience can be, and more importantly they lack competence in how they can transform a room into a vessel of learning, engagement and behavior change.

In an effort to begin to raise that awareness, I recently created a short elearning program – it’s a sort of murder mystery called “Death by Boredom”.

Death by Boredom Title Page

Death by Boredom - Line Up

Click here to check it out. Have fun with it. And if you know someone who has an upcoming presentation, feel free to pass this along to them. See if they can identify any presentation elements they’d like to bring into their own presentations… and any elements they’d like to do away with.

7 Ways To Keep Your Audience Engaged (Even after Lunch)

You know that conference session that comes immediately after lunch (when it is always hardest to keep your audience engaged)? Guest blogger, Megan McJennett (full disclosure: she’s also my wife), attended one of those sessions this week and a funny thing happened.  Everyone was engaged. Here’s what she observed:

As I prepared myself for the always-dreaded post-lunch keynote address at the recent School’s Out Washington Bridge Conference, I thought to myself: how is he going to keep me engaged? Is he going to keep me awake? Is he going to keep me from checking my email?

John Medina (of Brain Rules fame) did not disappoint – he is a gifted speaker and the content is riveting.   But about 5 minutes into it, I realized something. As “Mrs. @FlipChartGuy” I have been ruined. My husband’s one-track mind and crusade about how every presentation should be engaging has crept into my own psyche. No longer am I paying attention to content, I am paying attention to style. What is it about John Medina’s talk that was so engaging? What kept me from sneaking a peek at my iPhone?

How Did John Medina Keep His Audience Engaged?

Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist speaking to a crowd of after-school educators. How did he reach us so effectively?

  1. Avoided Jargon: He spoke about neural pathways and neurotransmitters in a way that was very accessible by using nonscience-y vocabulary to introduce the concept.
  2. Set Expectations: He primed his audience at the beginning by letting us know that we were going to walk away with 2 practical ideas we could implement as soon as we got back to our programs.
  3. PowerPoint as Co-facilitator: He used slides as props, not crutches.
  4. Used his voice and body: He raised and lowered his voice, moved purposefully across the stage.
  5. Anecodotes: He told anecdotes to illustrate his points; the stories made the group laugh and get teary. He left space for both.
  6. Repetition: He reiterated his point succinctly before introducing the next point.
  7. Suprise: He kept us guessing (have you ever heard of a developmental molecular biologist refer to truuconfessions.com as a source?)

Sitting through this post-lunch keynote, I have to admit that he made this social worker want to go back to college just to take a few molecular biology classes.

What strategies have you seen that help keep participants engaged after lunch? What do you do to keep YOUR audience engaged?