ATD 2016 Day 1

ATD 2016 Day 1

This year, we're checking out the ATD (Association for Talent Development) 2016 International conference. Here we share a few thoughts - all the way from sunny Denver!

It’s Sunday and a beautiful day in Denver. The size and scale of everything here is impressive, from the stunning Rocky Mountains to the huge Denver Convention Hall complete with appropriately giant size blue bear, and from the 9000+ delegates at ATD to the coffee that comes in large, super-size, bucket and dustbin.

The event got off to an unpromising start. First session was the International Delegates welcome. Representatives from over 50 countries including large delegations from Korea, China and Japan, but the session was a waste of time, dreadful acoustics and what we could hear we already knew from the brochure and the App.

Next we were off to a "lunch and learn" panel discussion on enabling the mobile sales force. Some useful insights, particularly from the CEO of SwissVBS who have a couple of mobile Apps for learning reinforcement that I will be looking up at their stand when the expo floor opens tomorrow. The main takeaway though was how inexperienced the L&D profession is in the world of mobile learning and publishing to Apps. This is an industry that has been focused almost exclusively on delivery to the desktop via the company LMS. Faced with demand from their executives for mobile learning, L&D professionals feel a bit like rabbits in the headlights. We do not have the technical expertise (“where do we start?”) to deliver to multiple mobile platforms and are also struggling to apply traditional instructional design paradigms to the world of bite sized, JIT learning.

At Unicorn, we’ve short-cut the technical barrier through our partnership with Amuzo - who joined the Unicorn Group as recently as this month. You might like to think about this approach yourself: Is there a small, but high quality, games studio near you, who have all the expertise you lack in delivering to multiple mobile platforms, in multiple territories? The benefits are not just technical - Amuzo’s biggest client is Lego. So they create solutions that are intuitive (ask your nearest 4 year old, engaging, fun and snackable. Wouldn’t you like to be able to say that about your e-learning?

An image of a cow flying out of a car. A snapshot from an elearning game.

The next stop was to a brilliant session by Rick Lozano of Rackspace, titled "From lacking the swagger to moves like Jagger".

The theme was engagement, and Rick lived up to that by having us singing along to “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, and “You can't always get what you want", while filling the gaps between the songs with some great ideas, advice and stories. Here are a few key takeaways.

  • Engagement means being emotionally connected and psychologically committed.
  • For the organization, a fundamental requirement is trust (do you really need a dress code?). Do some of your policies and procedures actually stop people getting things done? I bet they do, so why not ask them which ones to drop?
  • For the individual, understand what motivates you - research shows that autonomy, mastery and purpose are more important drivers than money.
  • Creativity - make open space for creativity, e.g. 10% projects.
  • Should CEO be Chief Encouragement Officer? Creating a culture for innovation requires leadership.
  • Help people to grow. Focus on improving what individuals are already good at, help them become a master. Encourage informal peer to peer teaching.
  • What are your passions? How can you bring them to your work? Find your thing - create #PFM Pure freakin magic.

My next stop was to hear Patti Shank. Although I arrived early, the session was full, guards at the door turned me away. Dashed down to the "supercharge your learning with games session" with Barbara Greenstein but …… the guards turned me away from that one too.

Please note ATD, this is not good. Have you got too many delegates and too few speaker sessions? I’ve been to plenty of popular sessions at DevLearn but never been turned away!

Luckily, Jackie got in to Barbara Greenstein and what turned out to be a good session. She defined a game as “A physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participants in direct opposition to each other.”

Barbara talked about how we are all kids in adult clothing.

Good game-based learning improves teamwork, accelerates the learning process, provides a learner centred approach and gives the individual control. She then outlined her 8 steps to game design. You can check out Barbara’s recommended reading here.

Moving on, Jackie next dropped in on Josh Cavalier session on Interactive Video for E-Learning. Here are a few links from the session, including some well-known examples of interactive video learning:

Pharrell Williams Happy site

Bob Dylan video

And here’s Kahoot, a cool tool for creating interactive group games, particularly good in a classroom setting.

Meanwhile, in the final sessions of the day, I sat in on Sharon Tipton, who talked about how you don’t need to build social functionality into your LMS in order to encourage social learning. The “21st Century Tools” are already there, in everyday use by our learners. They include curation tools like Feedly, Flipboard, diigo and Pinterest. Then there are the familiar blogging, video and podcast sites that you can use alone or together to create simple frequent content, from Blogger and Wordpress to YouTube, and team sharing tools like Dropbox and Evernote.

Nothing new here, but an important message for LMS providers and administrators. Use the tools that your learners already use, and don’t think everything has to be controlled, monitored and curated. Give your learners the space to learn from each other.

Then it was off for an excellent dinner with our great friend Craig Weiss. If you are at ATD and read this blog, then make sure you look up Craig on the expo floor at Booth #631. There’s no greater expert on the LMS market and he’s open funny, irreverent and very honest too.

More from the land of the blue bear tomorrow.

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