Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3 - reflections on 2013 Learning Solutions

Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3 - reflections on 2013 Learning Solutions Learning Solutions Conference and Expo 2013 took place in Florida last week. In the first of a two-part blog reflecting on the event in Orlando, Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips, says the learning industry has every reason to be very excited about the future. After 25 years of building Unicorn it is not always easy to retain the enthusiasm and drive of the early pioneering years. So although attending Guild events like Learning Solutions Conference and Expo 2013 has all the obvious benefits of meeting like-minded folk, seeing what everyone is up to, picking up ideas and tips, and joining the debates on future trends, the real benefit for me is the opportunity to take a step back, recharge the batteries and renew my enthusiasm. This year’s Learning Solutions conference certainly achieved that, with inspirational keynote speakers, and a common feeling throughout the week of an industry at a very exciting point in our development, up to our necks in opportunities. Keynote Robert Ballard - the man who found the Titanic - opened with his remarkable story of exploration, achievement and how the web is spreading that explorer spirit to kids across the globe through online education. But even he was trumped by the amazing Yvonne Camus whose inspirational story of the triumph of the human spirit proved the perfect note to close the week. Here is a glimpse......... [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syf-PMJ5FpM] The links from these universal messages to our practical world of eLearning were well made by the mid-conference keynotes. Here is Dan Coyle demonstrating what can be achieved by practice at the edge of your ability without venturing anywhere near the jungles of Borneo or the bottom of the oceans. His messages about praising effort not ability, about reach, engagement, swift feedback and most of all the power of practice-based learning should resonate with all instructional designers. Watch the first few minutes of this if you ever wanted to play golf like Tiger Woods [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq0pHpNy6bs] Aaron Dignan brought us even closer to home with his keynote session on the application of game design principles to learning. Unicorn have been advocates of game based learning for 25 years, and Aaron’s message that play is nature’s learning engine resonate strongly. But they have never been more relevant and achievable in e-learning. New to me were examples of taking these gaming principles into other areas of the business, and we will certainly be trying his meetings ideas – wouldn’t you just love to be able to play a card saying “I’m done wasting my time here”? [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rT7n3JVwwQ] This theme of the power and effectiveness of Action based Instructional Design recurred throughout the event. I attended sessions on creating narratives, on building decision making scenarios, and on the power of experience and practice. A memorable image from Aaron’s session is the Clint Eastwood face on those teenage gamers – a look of fierce concentration very familiar to anyone who has facilitated or taken part in one of Unicorn’s simulation events. Julie Dirksen’s session on narrative creation was full of good ideas for creating and structuring stories, such as the “Hero’s Journey”. Start with a protagonist and an antagonist, each with opposing goals then build the story round the key learning outcomes.  She recommends looking at Popcorn Dialogues web site for more insights into story structure.  See more of Julie’s presentation here. On a related theme, a mention also for Dr Will Thalheimer. They say you should leave them wanting more and Will certainly did. A very thought provoking and intellectually rigorous approach to building decision making scenarios. I could have spent all day with this guy. You can find more on his SEDA model here...... [vimeo 19771618 w=425 h=350] *Tomorrow Peter's thoughts on the hot topics at the event including mobile, Tin Can, tools and the perennial favourite, the future for the LMS.

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