Monthly Archives: November 2022

Sean Gilligan, DevLearn 22, Las Vegas
November 22nd

DevLearn 22, Las Vegas, Nevada

Our journey to DevLearn started early one Sunday morning. The flight departed from Manchester via Frankfurt before heading to Las Vegas. To my astonishment, my bags had been lost again. On my last trip to Minneapolis, my bag got lost in Rikyavik and now Frankfurt had misplaced my luggage. At least I wasn’t the only one with lost luggage. My collegues James and Steve had lost their bags alongside 40 other Lufthansa passengers.

Steve Ding, James Rowe. Nick White, Webanywhere
Steve Ding, James Rowe, Nick White, Webanywhere

DevLearn 22 was held at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas and we stayed at the Plaza near the old town. We had last been at DevLearn back in 2017, and I was curious to find out how the world of learning had advanced over the last five years. DevLearn is the world’s largest developer learning event, bringing together over 26,000 developers, designers, educators and others who are passionate about learning new skills to build better software. It is a key event for Webanywhere as it allows us to connect with our customers and partners face-to-face.

Pre-conference there was a Learning Leaders Forum which Nick White our Head of Enterprise attended. One of the big learnings from the forum was to position Learning & Development as Learning & Performance to get greater buy-in from boards of directors. The leadership forum also discussed the need for metrics in learning & development to prove learning experiences are working.

A big theme of the show was virtual reality (VR) and augmented (AR). Of course, the Metaverse has driven a lot of interest in virtual reality headsets but is the technology good enough for mass consumption? Do people want to wear a virtual reality headset for hours on end? I remember the first time I tried on a virtual reality headset. It made me feel dizzy as I walked around the room full of Vincent Van Gogh paintings. I can see certain news cases in manufacturing, construction and in surgery settings where virtual reality makes total sense. In terms of mass-market adoption where everybody is wearing a virtual reality headset, I am more sceptical.

Betty Dannewitz, an immersive experience designer with over 18 years in corporate learning and development gave a talk on Bringing Casual Learning to your Organization. Betty focused on how to start a podcast. There are 4 main types of podcast formats Monologue, Conversational, Storytelling and Hybrid. Monologue podcasts are where you go solo with only you talking about your topic. Conversational podcasts usually include one or more guests. Storytelling is where you share past event experiences and finally Hybrid is your own cocktail of any of the above. Starting a podcast in our organization needs a vision, plan and buy-in. You must have drive and determination because starting a podcast is easy but keeping it going is more challenging. Your podcast will need a concept which needs you to decide on the format and concept. You also need to consider your audience so that you set the tone correctly. Gathering content is key starting with categories, then topics and threads in guests.

Getting started with podcasting can be costive all your need is a smartphone, some editing software and a hosting platform to push RSS feeds to Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Alternatively, you can get started with Sound Branch which lets you record, host and syndicate all from one platform. Sound Branch builds podcasts from voice notes meaning you don’t need to schedule or edit your podcast you simply invite people to your playlist to start a recording.

Webanywhere stand DevLearn 22
Nick White and James Rowe, Webanywhere, DevLearn 22

During the DevLearn exhibition, we showcase Totara TXP including Totara Learn, Totara Perform and Totara Engage. We also showcase Watch and Learn which can be used for learning in the flow of work and for live cohort-based learning events. Zoom fatigue is an issue in business and Zoom was not designed for learning. Zoom allows meeting recordings but does not support async video learning experiences such as employee-generated videos or screencasts needed for learners who want more flexibility in their work schedules.

DevLearn 22 hosted approximately 4,000 participants from the learning profession including instructional designers, heads of learning, CLOs and many other people. Our bags were recovered 2 days into our trip and apart from the occasional smokey hotel atmosphere, I would thoroughly recommend visiting DevLearn 23 as a community to get involved with.

Learning Summit Podcast – Nick White reflects on DevLearn 22

Sophia the Robot
November 16th

Learning 2022, Orlando, Florida

Learning 2022 in Orlando, Florida came quickly off the back of our attendance at DevLearn. My last 2 trips to America involved lost baggage and myself scrabbling for help from colleagues whilst visiting clothes shops for emergency provisions. Perhaps this time my travel experience would be smoother.

The last time I visited Learning 2022 approximately 10 years ago Captain “Sully” Sullenberger received a standing ovation for his heroic efforts in landing a distressed plane on the Hudson river in New York. The Learning Leaders Conference was set up by Elliott Massie who coined the phrase e-learning and is now owned and operated by Closer Still Media which host the Learning Technologies Show in London, Online Educa in Berlin, DevLearn in Las Vegas and Learning Solutions in Orlando.

Learning 2022 was back for the first time in 3 years in-person with approximately 1,000 attendees much smaller than DevLearn 2022 and indeed ATD 22 however the conference felt like going back to school with more focus on sessions and talks rather than the expo area.

Duncan Wardle, former VP Innovation and Creativity, Disney

One of the stand-out talks of the show was a keynote talk given by Duncan Wardle the former VP of Creativity and Innovation at Disney. In his talk he said when delivering a presentation you are much better off printing out the slides and putting them up on the walls around a room. You can then take the audience on a journey walking them through each slide. This gets people away from their tables which are guarded and lets people join in the conversation more freely. In another exercise, Duncan ran an experiment with participants. At first, Duncan got us to talk about an idea with one person saying “no” all the time similar to Eeyore out of Winney the Poo. Secondly, we talked through ideas again but this time using the phrase “yes and” to each idea. Not only did this make the ideas more diverse and wide-ranging but a sense of shared ownership was instilled. Sharing ideas ultimately means it’s more likely to happen and this technique is most certainly something I will try back in the office when we next have a brainstorming session.

One of the more bizarre talks was CEO of the Learning Guild David Kelly interviewing a robot called Sophia on stage. Sophia the robot was equipped with a camera and all sorts of high-tech widgets. It was particularly funny watching Sophia change her body language to mirror David’s as part of the demonstration. Sophia hardly had any technical hiccups and it is quite scary how fast robotics and artificial intelligence is now happening.

Donald H. Taylor who Chairs the Learning Technologies Conference in London gave a session on What Makes a Great Chief Learning Officer where people debated whether it’s better to come from an L&D background or from outside of the industry. Donald’s talk took us on a journey up a mountain where in the foothills the skills needed for learning and development management are quite different to the strategy skills required for a successful CLO. In the foothills of the mountain, you need your walking boots and a good walking stick. When you reach the ice cap at the top of a mountain a pick axe is needed and perhaps an oxygen cylinder instead of a rucksack. Most people concluded it was better to come from within the L&D industry. The question asked is whether the learning function should be called learning & development or learning & performance. Performance seems to resonate more with C-suite executives so but most learning professionals refer to the industry as L&D.

I myself gave a talk entitled Building Empathy into Learning Experiences which examined new ways of working and learning in this post-pandemic “Work from Anywhere’ era. People have become siloed and the distribution of people getting the work done means new approaches are needed. I explained how Sound Branch can open access to everyone for making podcasting quick and easy with no editing or scheduling needed. Sound Branch works by building podcasts from voice notes where traditional podcasts are scheduled for live recording Sound Branch playlists record podcasts with voice notes meaning no editing is needed. In addition hosts and guests have greater flexibility to their schedule as they can record the voice notes when and where they please. Instead of recording a podcast over 1-hour session, you can create the podcast over a few days giving time for reflection and preparation.

Async video is a big opportunity for remote communication and learning and we should default to screencasts not Zoom calls for certain types of learning engagements. I explain how Watch and Learn can be used for one-way communication where posting a video is more empathetic than text-based mediums. Finally, I discuss opportunities for social learning with virtual career fairs or internally in a business with virtual coffees to foster more informal conversations in the workplace.

Storm Nicole, Florida, November 2022

Shortly, after we arrived in Florida a weather warning was issued with Storm Nicole in the Bahamas and making its way inland towards the Sunshine State. Our networking event at Disney’s Epcot was made interesting by the wet and wild weather adding another dimension to the pub crawl as we kept looking for shelter whilst hopping over puddles.

Orlando airport closed for two days delaying our return to the UK. On the final day in Florida, the sun was shining and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the cold weather back home. It was my 3rd time in Orlando this year so perhaps we will be back soon on business or pleasure. I think in-person events are more valuable now than ever with more people working from home the need for human connection is in demand. Bring on Learning 2023!

Learning Summit Podcast – Learning 2022 Review
Sean Gilligan Podcast – Learning 2022 Reflections