DevLearn 2017 – Day 2 Recap

I’m at DevLearn all week long, so I’ll be recapping each day/session I attend.

Morning Buzz: Building a Partnership With SMEs – Ashley Chiasson


Keynote: Technology and Storytelling: Making a Difference in the Digital Age – LeVar Burton

DO I EVEN HAVE TO TELL YOU WHO LEVAR BURTON IS?! Star Trek…Reading Rainbow?! GET IT TOGETHER, FOLKS! I cannot explain how excited I am for this session. SO EXCITED! Look at all those capitals and exclamation points!

It is difficult for one to reach their full potential without being able to read in at least one language – LeVar Burton

LeVar kicks off his session by explaining that he believes literacy paves the way for lifelong learning – and he is so true. He explains that the definition of literacy needs to continue to evolve. STEM and STEAM are more well-rounded approaches to educate our children. They need a broad range of literacy.

He wants to take STEAM one step further by including Reading, STREAM. LeVar is an incredible force to promote literacy, and he self-identifies as a storyteller. He genuinely believes that storytelling has the power to fuel children’s development. He explains that it is our imagination that allows use to conceptualize, devise, and design any invention that has ever propelled us in our human journey!

Star Trek should be viewed as paving the way for the world in which we live. The Enterprise had iPads before we did, and Apple should be paying them residuals!

I cannot get over how fantastic LeVar is at presenting…which seems like an odd statement toward someone who self-identifies as a storyteller, but I’m immersive in everything he’s telling us! He explains that his mother passed away a month ago, but whenever he has the opportunity to speak her name in public, he does. She was instrumental in allowing him to reach his full potential in life. She had standards and consequences if you did not meet those standards. She had hopes, expectations, and dreams for LeVar because she knew the power of being educated. His mother taught him there were no limits in terms of what he did with his life, expect the limits he self-imposed.

There are some stories that can impact the trajectory of society! Roots shifted the frame of reference about slavery in America.

He explains that we’re only just beginning to learn how technology can impact education in today’s generation, so he has reimagined Reading Rainbow for today’s children by creating Skybrary School, which can be tailored to individual classroom needs. He wants to meet his audience where they are – smart!

He closes with an exercise: close your eyes for 30 seconds and think about a teacher or someone who saw your potential before you did, and helped you become the person you are today. Who was that person for you?

Session 1: Changing the Face of UI Design for eLearning – Melissa Milloway

Mel has a PACKED house! Giiiiiiiiirl. I love your very respectable numbers, and you don’t sound like you’ve consumed too much coffee, so you’re doing great! AND YOU’RE ON CAMERA – CRUSHING IT!

Mel’s session kicks off with some Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope, so obviously it’s going to be amazing. She talks about the difference between UX and UI, provides us with some Ryan Gosling getting therapy because of the Papyrus font:

And now everyone will start to see the papyrus font in EVERYTHING. In the sketch, Gosling laments the fact that there seemed to be no design thinking when the folks who created Avatar chose the font they were going to use.

April Ludgate takes us into our UI design pet peeves. Mine is autoplay videos because I don’t need your videos foisted upon me. That and popup opt ins…which I know is a marketing strategy…but damnit, GET YOUR LIFE!

Other pet peeves:

  • Stock photos with watermarks
  • Ads with the fake Xs
  • BULLETS ARE TOO VERBOSE (and this wasn’t my submission)

After this exercise, she explains why it’s so important to have good UI: you want to earn  your learner’s trust that the training will be effective, you want to showcase your culture in order to build your culture, it allows you to focus on the content, it allows you to save resources, and it minimizes cognitive load.

Ron Swanson’s party dance takes us in to design systems, and Mel demos several examples of these, such as Trello’s Nachos design system. Mel really knows her stuff!

End Note

Mel’s concurrent session was the only one I attended today, because jet lag is really hitting me, and I wanted to take some time to really focus on preparing my presentation materials for tomorrow – it’s been awhile since I’ve given this one!

DevLearn 2017 – Day 1 Recap


I’m at DevLearn all week long, so I’ll be recapping each day/session I attend.

Morning Buzz: How to Build an Effective eLearning Team – Tim Slade

I have to be honest that I popped in to Tim’s session just to say hi! I came in a few minutes late and sat uncomfortably close to him – I could see his pores (just kidding, Tim – You don’t have pores)! I also got to meet Mel Milloway for the first time after chatting with her online for years – There’s so much friendship-ing happening!

Tim spent his 45 minutes talking with folks about building effective e-learning teams, providing particular examples from his time, primarily, at GoDaddy. He spoke about different types of employees (e.g., the T-shaped employee) and exploring how those individuals can thrive at what they’re good at doing, while working efficiently within the organization and project team.

He also discussed hiring practices and the strategies he employs when posting position descriptions, interviewing, and hiring incumbents. This included a brief glance at the things he looks for when choosing individuals for individuals (e.g., portfolios, sample tests, observing their samples).

Attendees shared their experiences and asked others what their organizations are doing/how their teams work. Lots of good information included here – including the idea of having ‘post-mortems’ or ‘retrospectives’ (the less grim sounding approach) once a project completes. I found this interesting because in higher education I actively sought these post-mortems, but found the process and faculty collective agreements largely hindered my actualization of these events (which is a process issue, but also a faculty issue). It’s so important to reflect on completed work so you can better understand how to improve upon development in proceeding projects, so it’s extremely frustrating when you struggle to pin faculty members down to participate in these debriefs -sigh-.

Keynote: Sci-Fi Meets Reality: The Future, Today – Amy Webb

Amy Webb is a ‘futurist’ and author. Before she begins, I’m very interested to know what being a ‘futurist’ entails. I feel like Bif Naked in the 90s must sum this up accurately. We’ll see how far off I am.

I feel like I’m probably a little off.
Oh thank god! She’s going to explain what a Quantitative Futurist is. She explains that this entails looking at shifts in fundamental human behaviour in order to identify trends. She then analyzes those trends to make better decisions in the present, and plan for the future, reverse engineering the future she wants today.

She has a folder of open-sourced content for us at the end of the session – HOORAY! #freestuff

Futurists practice how to distinguish between shiny distractions and real trends – Amy Webb

Webb provides examples of badging in applications such as FourSquare…and then it reinforces my thought that using badging in higher education is just a shiny object. Does it mean anything in the education context? I’m sure if CAN, but I think it’s more dependent on the individual learner because as a learner, I don’t give diddly squat to receiving a badge. But in other contexts, I value them. For example, when I’m playing Ratchet & Clank, I want to find all of the secrets and receive all of the badges. And when participating in my Fitbit step challenges, I want to win – because I’m a passive-aggressive competitive person…but in the context of learning? NOPE. Totally a shiny object. Badges can kiss my butt!

The birth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) sounds a lot less painful than childbirth, but sounds equally terrifying and scarring. Also…a hotel in Japan run entirely by robots? Interesting…but terrifying! I’m too much of a chicken to become a futurist.

I feel like I know too much right now. I don’t know if I like knowing that my ABS braking system in my car is Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – I mean…maybe it’s better? Maybe I should feel more comforted?

What we want is machines that can learn from us and then make decision on our own – I can’t even make my own decisions! How will they ever learn?! In the future we’ll have a lot more of a problem with fake news and misinformation – Oi vey!

Amy closes by reminding us that the future hasn’t happened yet, so we can all build the future of learning that we want. But to do so, we must listen to weak signals in the present. We need to modify our thinking and act on the identification of weak signals.

Here is the folder of open-source resources

Session 1: BYOL: Storyline JavaScript, Variables, and Triggers – Oh, My! – Owen Holt

I am so grateful to Owen for everything I’ve learned from him in the Articulate E-Learning Heroes Community, and for attending my BYOL session last year and for helping some of my attendees as I rapidly flew through using variables in Articulate Storyline to create simple progress meters and closed captioning (in Storyline 2). So grateful! I also gave him some flack last year for not having presented as of yet. He has so much great things to show people, and he’s a fantastic teacher!

When I saw he was presenting this year, I was THRILLED, so again – this session was less of a session for my to do in depth learning, but more of a session for me to say Hello, and for me to pay it forward by helping out his attendees, if necessary.

Oh thank goodness – Owen says we’re not going to run! We’re going to roll over – we’re not even going to get to crawl! I’m pretty sweaty right now, so this is a relief! He begins his session by advising us to become educated in the basics (e.g., Variables/Triggers/HTML).

Owen shares several examples of how he’s used variables and JavaScript to create randomization, and to allow for integration of music within Articulate Storyline. Then, he went in to a very palatable explanation of variable declaration. The best way of declaring a variable is to tell the browser window that! It can’t read your mind!

The execute JavaScript functionality used in the Storyline player got some good oohs and ahhs!

JavaScript in Articulate Storyline is a topic that can be very intimidating, and as a speaker can be extremely ambitious to explain (and actually have people understand you). That being said, Owen did a fantastic job. Overall, this session was great – I think most everyone was with him. He fumbled a couple of times…but handled it very well.

On the e-learning guild’s website, you can access the session materials for Owen’s session, and the only feedback I have for Owen is that I would have printed a ton of handouts (despite the pain it will cause my back and shoulders carrying them around) as the conference wifi leaves something to be desired, and many folks were unable to download the materials. I also popped in a few minutes late, so I may have missed the flash drive handout with files, but if that didn’t occur, I would also have recommended having some on hand for the previously mentioned internet connectivity issue.

End Note

I actually intended on going to two other sessions, but fell into discussions with friends and e-learning colleagues, so today’s sessions were cut short for a good cause!