ASTD 2008 Convention Reflections: Final Day

As we are now nearing the end of the morning of the final day, with one more of my eLearning Gallery Live Demos to do, I am finally able to start processing this experience, which is something I will probably do over the next few days as well.

I will offer a few initial thoughts:

  1. I like the setup here at the San Diego Convention Center. The ASTD central area was, literally, centrally located for the conference. The Expo was convenient, with generally enough Starbucks and food options here. The Convention Center is walkable to the Gaslamp Quarter (it is across the street), with numerous options for food and drinks and entertainment (Petco Field, where the Padres play, is also across the street). Even the airport is only a 10 minute drive from this location–what a wonderful convention location.
  2. There was free wifi access in certain parts of the convention center, though not in all the rooms and locations. This was also convenient, especially for people who simply cannot leave work alone for several days. With all this connectivity in areas around the Wifi Wireless Internet signs. The challenge is to find an available outlet in or around the area with the wifi access. I often travel with an extension or multiple-plug adapter, but did not due to space constraints this time.
  3. There did not seem to be the same number of sessions as there previously have been. I have not been to the conference in a number of years, though I seem to recall more sessions last time. The flip side is that with fewer sessions and enough time between each one, there was enough time to get from one end of the space to the other, get coffee, see the Expo (which has been a challenge in overscheduled conferences before), and otherwise connect with people.
  4. ASTD does not seem very Web 2.0. There were not any conference tags (I have been using astd2008), interactive locations for networking, or really any opportunities for encouraging social networking before and / or after the conference. While two of the sessions I attended and liveblogged were specifically on Web 2.0, with both of them encouraging the learning professional attendees to get up to speed ASAP with these possibilities and opportunities, I find it interesting that those sessions were packed with people trying to learn more, yet there seems very little that ASTD is formally doing to help meet the needs and try to catch up with the learning curve. I face people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that younger learners inhabit and use technology in an integrated lifestyle (as opposed to using technology as a different sort of “thing” as an add-on to whatever the “pure” content is), and even find myself techno-resistant at times without a clear sense of direction or direct applicability. However, our connected and networked world is only going to increasingly alter the “traditional” way of workplace learning and performance, and as professionals in this field, we have to stay current or even slightly ahead unless we will make ourselves seem completely irrelevant.
  5. Networking. I have not done that much networking during this conference. Yes, I did meet some really nice and interesting people with whom I hope I will be able to remain in touch, but I am a bit more reserved when left to my own F2P (face-to-face) devices. I wish I would have taken advantage of the dinner sign-ups at local establishments with others who signed up for a certain location of time. I really think this is a good opportunity, and will have to remember it as something definite to do next time.
  6. I liked showing my work at the eLearning Poster Session. It was a bit tough to do so for three days, but I think it allowed for a couple of great discussions, as well as opportunity to share my work. I really hope they do this again, and next time publicize it better. I also found it interesting that some of the sessions were, like mine, our own work, while others seemed to be more, shall we say, vendors looking to directly distribute their products in a different format? This is the first time ASTD ever tried this format, and I hope they used it as a test so it will be more known about next year to get even more people submitting for it. I have never presented in a poster session before, and in many ways was a rich learning experience and opportunity to develop my own skills as a presenter, researcher, and instructional design professional. 
  7. The gala event at Seaworld was wonderful. Good weather. Great demonstrations, Fun shows. Enjoyable games (I won two stuffed whales for the babies at home!). I even thought the food was good (though I did not eat most of the food, as it was (ironically) seafood) and the drinks spaced enough for the large crowd of us. I took lots of pictures that will be on Flickr in a few days.

I will certainly have additional thoughts about the conference over the next few days, and will probably add more posts about this, as well as upload all the pictures I took with some links to where they will be located on Flickr in the next few days.

As for all the learning I did? That is already beginning to be used immediately, and will (hopefully) become more apparent via my blogging. I also have a few new writing and presentation ideas to start considering. Did I mention I bought a bunch of books?

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Learning 2.0: Mobile, Rapid, Immersive, Collaborative, and Non-formal

Lance Dublin is speaking in this session, and I wish I could have seen it from the beginning. I arrived late as I was getting Patrick Lencioni sign my copy of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

This is a big room, and I am sitting on the floor. Yes, there are a few seats left, but I am sitting next to the outlet

People do not want to be managers; they want to own things. Who wants to run adult day care. Ouch! Rather inciteful!

Really interesting session. Not sure I know where he is going, but it seems to be going that people learn most of what they do on the job, rather than formal learning, training, classroom work, etc. It seems most people learn informally.

The guy next to me is on his cell phone. Now that is what I call multitasking.

Lance is speaking about formal learning, informal learning, and non-formal learning. The last is about how people learn something intentionally though they do not formally go to class for it.

The Internet was created by the government and academics for redundant communication.

The guy next to me now took off his shoes. How interesting.

“How many people know the term eLearning?” All hands go up. “Do we all have the same definition?” Of course not. There we are, all using a term we don’t define in the same way.

Now speaking about Web 1.0. HTML and text and graphics and such.

The older generation think of the Web as a place to go to plan and get stuff. The younger generation thinks of the Web as a platform, not a place to go.

Internet / Web 1.0 = medium that is content-centered

Internet / Web 2.0 = a platform

Prosumption = the process of giving back. This is just not a consumer perspective of taking things from the Web.

Democratization = the death of the subject-matter expert. “There are no experts, because some of them are like my parents, and they are pathetic.” Laughter around as this is one of his ongoing pieces of humor. This is where everybody participates.

He just recommended the book Wikinomics, which is about weapons of mass collaboration. I did not catch the author’s name. Repressive countries restrict access to information. E.g., the Internet in China, cassettes in Iran at the time of the Shah, copiers in Russia (way back when), etc.

Today’s Internet:

Rapid (we do not have patience for downloads, emails, we can shop and bank online and in-person, shop online and in-person, etc.).

Instructional designers slow things down. Like travel agents–they slow things down and cost more and most people get by without them–use them if you need a long and complicated trip. Instructional designers are the same way–instead of slowing down the process–equip the subject matter experts with templates and let them continue to create content. 

He is a really engaging speaker. Funny. Moving around. Asking questions. Speaking loudly.

I did not know Steve Jobs coined the term “podcasting.” Really? That is what Lance just stated.

Podcasting is known as audio training. The Vatican is the world’s largest podcasting network, called GodCast. Did not know that.

Apple uses podcasts to teach the support staff 12 hours before new products, and then the knowledge and incremental education increases.

M-learning = the cell phone is mobile and rapid, and most people seem to have color, Internet access, navigationability, etc. This is not formal training on a cell phone, but updates and tips and just-in time instruction.

Funny stories. His son wanted to wear a bow tie to his prom. He told Lance that he needed a real one (like James Bond), so they went to Nordstrom and bought one, but nobody there knew how to tie it. Where did they go? They watched 20 of the 25 of them on YouTube.

Rapid mobile learning. This is when baseball folks video the pitchers and hitters from the dugout and then review them on the plane while going to the next game.

Immersive = when we are so involved in something we forget about it. This is when you get in the car, get out of the car, and don’t remember anything that happened in between. Airlines, the military, and nuclear power. Simulation strategies and use and learn before they need the real thing.

There are a lot of online games where people communicate with people all over the world and are highly complex. Halo. Worlds of Warcraft. America’s Army. Second Life is the same thing. Really interesting, as it allows for make believe games, “like when you were a kid.”

Rapid, Mobile, Immersive, Collaborative.

Lance is speaking about blogs now. “Who has read one?” “Who has written one”  Too bad he did not ask “Who is writing one right now?” Hehehe.

Now speaking about Wikipedia.

Now speaking about the Janet Jackson Rule–one female mammary gland so traumatized the American people that a 5 second-delay was added to all live television. Of course, Lance must have missed Sue Simmons a few weeks ago!

LinkedIn and Plaxo are both communities for adults. I have never used Plaxo, as there seems to be so much spam there. LinkedIn seems to be the same as Tony’s session yesterday. Interestingly, I received 2 LinkedIn requests from colleagues unassociated with the this conference since yesterday. Interesting. I have had the account for years with minimal use, and now twice in the same 24 hours. I wonder if my friends (F2F) use LinkedIn as well? I always feel like a marketer or self-promoter to send out these friend requests. Now to think about it, I am not sure if I ever sent a LinkedIn or Facebook request. That may also be the reason I do not have many contacts!

How many people think there is a cool website out there that you are just not finding. Wouldn’t is be better if there were algorithms that would see what we want after a few searches and then send it to us. This is what the Semantic Web.

e-learning is too focused on the “e.” It seems we are moving to the learning e (with the learning as a superscript).

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Forget What You Know about Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting

Michael Allen, the eLearning guru, is presenting now. Wow, he really does look like his picture. I always thought it was interesting that he has his picture on all his books. Interpret it how you may.

I have seen his books all over the place, but have never heard anybody refer to him. However, the topic seems interesting (especially as I am an instructional designer).

Cool, he is using a technology from one of the vendors here at the conference–TurningPoint Audience Response System. He just took an instant poll and showed the results on his slide.

I like his statement, that for whatever reason we are here, we are probably here because we want to be successful, in whatever capacity. I like that he is not verbally making any suppositions about the audience.

OK, enough about running my laptop on the battery–I will move a chair to the wall and sit next to the outlet. Hmmmph.

Three success techniques for instructionally design:

  1. Enhance learner motivation to learn (This reminds me of a book I used by Wlodowski, I think his name is) Boy Michael is long-winded. He is still speaking slowly about this topic. Will check Twitter until he gets to point 2
  2. Focus learners on behavior-enhancing tasks
  3. Create meaningful and memorable experiences

Oh good. 18 minutes into his presentation (15 minutes after the polling) he is asking for something from the audience. He asked people what the three successful tips are.

Wow he is slow in presenting. Very different style than Ruth Clarke, who I am thinking about as they both speak about eLearning and they both presented in this huge room.

Think about the learner’s experience, rather than focusing on content.

Experts do not make good SMEs because they know too much.

He is discussing ADDIE (analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate), and is mentioning his spin on the model is to have an iterative approach that reminds me of the PDSA (plan, do, study, act) model in quality improvement.

Don’t provide learning objectives on the beginning of the slides, because few people read them and they do not provide focus or motivation. Have them, just don’ have them at the beginning. This is a really interesting point that I have to consider a bit.

I am distracted again. I am actually working on another blog post while liveblogging this one. I wonder what this experience may mean? I am noticing that people are leaving the session. Too bad, as his content is really good and he seems to be in accordance with good adult educational theory.

Try test and tell, rather than tell and test. Interesting. I wonder if this supports giving the same pre and post test?

Michael just showed a brief video of a plane crashing into the water as an example to get our attention. I think I am going to post this and head to look at his books.

I know his content is good, but perhaps as this is the second time he is giving the same presentation, he is a little tired?

E-Learning 2.0 for Personal and Group Learning

So, I am looking forward to finally meeting Tony Karrer at this session, especially as we have been trading Tweets and such for the previous couple of weeks.

Interesting that the slide show that is being projected before the session begins was at a slide with an NYU flag when I came into the room. I wonder what relationship Tony has with NYU? Having done a graduate degree there and now teaching at NYU Stern and NYU SCPS, I have a long and storied history with the university.

Nice use of a PowerPoint show, with interesting questions and factoids. Wish I brought my camera with me, but I went back to the hotel to rest and clean up email before this session, and could not carry everything on my back once again. The camera and business cards and conference book all had to go. They are now keeping the desk company.

Ahh, it begins.

Wonder where the stats and info came from on the slides Tony used. Hmmm. Can’t get away from evidence-based practice.

Tony just did a nice overview of what he will speak about. Nice review of what we will do, and then do it, and then hopefully he will review what we did.

PhD in computer sciences. CTO of eHarmony for four years. They are all about bringing people together for the purpose of marriage, as he mentioned. I wonder if they do the same for gay marriage as well? Getting off the point here . . .

Tony took an informal survey and asked how many people use RSS feeds, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. Seems more people blog than he thought. Perhaps they are just the ones who do not use Twitter?

The flow and pace of information is increasing, as he mentioned when he listed Friedman’s The World Is Flat.

Interesting thought about our school system, which is still focused on information and objective items we can just as easily look up online. Some of the skills we need are not as well taught.

Tony mentioned that, if he visits most of us and sees how we use various tools, and he would see how, after an hour, most of us were not using it appropriately. Odd choice of word – appropriately. I recall how somebody at one point made me aware of how the term “appropriate” tends to have a value judgement in it. In other word, it does not mean right or wrong, good or bad, or the like. Instead, it means that I think it is “appropriate” for me, or not.

He has 27 employees. Good for him; must be a challenge and benefit all in one!

Now, he is not claiming this is a right or wrong way to do stuff–instead, it is more personal, based on our needs (and our world). Another reference now to LinkedIn. I always thought that tool was somewhat weak, so glad Tony will be talking about it.

Interesting High Level Framework he gives. First, start with the Roles / Functions we do in all the capacities we do as knowledge workers (e.g. manager, small business owner, soccer coach, etc.). Choose a function or role, and then look at the needs and strategies  and challenges and future strategies. Scan them, then find, keep/organize, leverage and present, etc. Use this as a tool to determine if I am spending too much time with something that does not have much value, or not enough time on something where more time should be done.

Network learning is the ability to tap into other people to answer our questions. This reminds me of George Siemens and Connectivism. This is especially important when looking for perspectives about content or products, which is what Google generally offers. How do you get the perspectives from people.

The key aspects of networked learning is about:

build, maintain, and access your personal network

LinkedIn allows us to establish contacts and such. It is based on the 6 Degrees of Separation. It allows us to go out and find expertise. Tony is doing an advanced search based on a keyword (such as Lectora) and then based on people away from him. Tony then showed how he would reach out to somebody with an “Expertise request.” I have used LinkedIn, and never saw this feature in the software. I am not very proficient in the program, and do not know many people who are big fans of it. It seems like one more bucket of work. A colleague at Northern Voice, Kris Krug, I know speaks very highly of the system and told me he has used it for work.

Perhaps I should use LinkedIn more? I wonder how people find one another there? Nice Q&A on LinkedIn right now. Interesting discussion about LinkedIn vs. a community of practice.

Scanning–RSS Reader. All of the services Tony speaks about are online and are free. Tony uses Bloglines as an RSS reader. Wow, I have not seen Bloglines in a few years. I did not know they were still around. RSS readers has changed his entire way of gathering news and information. Great amounts of scanning, which only seems to be possible via RSS feeds.

Tony spends about an hour in the morning reading and writing blog posts. He also has some “Trying Out” folders where he tries out feeds for a short period. Good idea here. I do it more informally, where I remove feeds I no longer find valuable. Scan practices include define my purposes ahead of time, filter aggressively, and then organize.

The fundamental question Tony is now speaking about is: What’s Stopping You? Why are we now not using LinkedIn or RSS feeds. Another nice pause for questions and answers now.

Great question about ignoring LinkedIn requests, and how to handle them.

Somebody just asked a question that made Tony comment how he is speaking about a tool and not doing a good enough job linking them to our lives.

Tony is then speaking about the keynotes with Tony Bingham and Malcolm Gladwell, and how he liveblogged about them both. Tony mentioned how he uses blog posts, such as what he did, to take notes (and process / learn) during the process. Blogging is a good way of forcing us to process and then think through one’s own learning. It also acted as an extended memory (not to mention a good learning tool). Blogging can also be a relationship building tool and network extension opportunity.

Social Bookmarking ~

He tags interesting articles and descriptions via One of the differences is that tags are like folders, though several tags can be used for each post, rather than folders (where there is usually only one). Nice demo about tags for the websites. I hope people are following this, as I have struggled to maximize using

One comment about Tony’s slides–it seems a number of people in the audience do not know about a number of these tools–it would have been useful if he would have had more screenshots of some of the items / logos he discussed (rss, LinkedIn, Bloglines,, etc. Yes, the text was on the slides, but the logos and such would have been useful for the visual learners (me) in the audience.

Interesting how Tony mentioned that he was surprised that he knew so few of the people in the audience, in that at least half the audience claimed that they use blogs. I wonder if they meant “author” blogs?

Web 2.0 often does not create content–it creates the structure for others to add and edit content.

I wish I had a camera for the (e)learner(ing) 1.0 and 2.0. He is claiming that learning is going more and more toward learners using blogs and wikis and social bookmarking within their learning processes. I wish he were not so pressed for time, as it would have been useful to discuss this. I am not sure what he means by this.

Wikis are the low-hanging fruit for organizations to use for learning needs. Interesting how he mentioned he has had a discussion back and forth with Stewart Mader, who I know from Northern Voice. Wiki use for sharing and editing documents. Google Docs does this as well.

Tony believes blogs are a great personal learning tool. He is now suggesting using blogs for internal orientation onboarding processes.

How about motivation? Why will these people suddenly be motivated to work on and contribute to these tools. 

Wow, he went through this all very fast, as he mentioned and as I feel.

Great suggestions, and what I find most interesting is how few learning professionals in this audience seem to use these tools. I am wondering if the issue is really the same one I feel. The tools are great, but how do I use them?


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A Colleague Liveblogs at ASTD

I just saw that a colleague (whom I have still not met F2F though we have been trying to meet) here at ASTD 2008, Tony Karrer, seems to also be liveblogging today. He blogged about Tony Bingham’s introduction and Malcolm Gladwell’s presentation as well.

I look forward to debriefing the Gladwell presentation with him when we finally do chat in person!