DevLearn 2018 DemoFest Recap: Winning Project: Best Academic Solution

This year was the first year that I have participated in DemoFest through the E-Learning Guild. If you’re unfamiliar, they liken it to a science fair for e-learning projects. Basically, a bunch of demonstrators are set up around the grand ballroom with their projects, and they have two hours to pitch/demo the project to as many people as possible. Those people then vote for one project in each category, and I was BESIDE MYSELF with gratitude when they announced that the project I demo’ed had won Best Academic Solution!

There were a lot of cool projects in the category (I did some recon before we started), so I thought for sure I was going to lose out to one of them. I was so surprised that when they announced the winner, I was watching the stage waiting for the winner to present themselves (typical Ashley), when the folks beside me were like “You won!!! Get up there!”. I wanted to cry. Here are some photos of me being super siked and wanting to cry…and of the awards.

So you’re probably asking yourself, “what project did she demo?!” Let me tell you all about it! The project I demonstrated was one that I had worked on for the Addiction and Mental Health graduate program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. The course itself was Group Counselling, and I demonstrated two specific interactions we created and highlighted the different technologies that we used to achieve the outcome. The project itself launches next year, so we don’t yet have student data on overall experience, but the team and reviewers are happy with the product. Below, I’ll take you through a screencast illustrating what was done.

DevLearn 2018: Session Recap and Resources – BYOD: Articulate Storyline 360: Let’s Get Variable!

Initially when I pitched this session, I thought “ooooh…a play on Let’s Get Physical…that’ll get picked up!”. I had planned on playing variations of that song in the background throughout the session…and then I read the lyrics. They are much more inappropriate than I had originally considered! OH MY!

Then I thought “maybe I’ll dress up in an 80s aerobic outfit”, but my session was at 1045am, and there was not enough morning coffee for that. Ah well! The room was packed, which is great news, and I think only about 10 folks trickled out throughout the session, so I’ll consider it a win. These sessions are always tricky because you never know what skill level folks are coming in at and it’s hard to cater to all within a one hour session, but 75% of the room had worked with variables before and they followed along very well – I was so proud!

Last time I delivered this session, I was having participants build a progress meter AND do closed captions with variables in Articulate Storyline 2 (which wasn’t a thing, so you had to do a workaround) and it was painful for them and for me. I opted out of two complex things for this session in favour of a more successful singular thing, and it paid off!

We started out with a bit of theory:

  • What are variables?
  • What variables are available in Storyline 360?
  • What can these variables do?
  • Why use variables?

I demonstrated a few examples of things you can do with (click each to download the .story file):

Then, I discussed controlling navigation using variables. I provided an example of bad controlling of navigation, and then discussed better ways of controlling navigation.

For those interested, you can download the very brief slide deck that I used here.

Finally, I had participants create a very simple progress meter. You can download the PDF walkthrough of what was done here, and you can watch me create the progress meter in the video below.

DevLearn 2018: Introduction to Instructional Design Recap

Alright folks – I’m back from DevLearn 2018, and I’m almost fully recovered, but not quite at 100% just yet. DevLearn was a blast, it was a whirlwind of a week for me, and over the next several days, I’ll be posting recaps for everything I participated in, beginning with the pre-conference certificate workshop that I delivered.

This year was my first time delivering a pre-conference certificate workshop for the E-Learning Guild, so I was incredibly nervous for a few reasons:

  1. It was my first time delivering a pre-conference certificate workshop for the E-Learning Guild
  2. I typically teach this workshop as an M.Ed graduate course over a full semester
  3. This course is available in its entirety at Sprout E-Learning (GO CHECK IT OUT!) and it is nearly 70 lessons, so condensing it into 6.5 hours was daunting

The first thing I have to say is: I had a fantastic group of participants. They were incredibly engaged, despite the boatload of theory I was cramming down their throats, and those who provided feedback were incredibly positive about the workshop and its delivery. They were the best participants I could have had for my first workshop!

I began with some introductions, housekeeping, and an ice breaker. I was SHOCKED when I asked how many people hated ice breakers as much as me and only three people raised their hands. AMEN!

We spent much of the morning discussing the ADDIE framework and Instructional Design models as a lead up to the first big activity: creating your own Instructional Design model. I had each table create a model, based on the things we discussed previously, and then I had them give me a sales pitch, fielding questions as they pitched. Everyone was so engaged in this activity that it went overtime! Look at all of these people working hard to create their models!

After lunch we really hammered through all of the learning theories, as well as doing a deeper dive through each phase of the ADDIE framework, discussing elements contained throughout each. At the end of the day, each group reviewed a self-paced course against an evaluation/QA criteria sheet and we discussed the importance of evaluation, and how, based on all that they learned within the workshop, each course was lacking or succeeding.

Overall, it was a great pre-conference certificate workshop. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement, I believe I converted some folks further into the idea of pursuing a role as an Instructional Designer, and I look forward to receiving the session evaluations so that I can optimize the workshop for its next delivery!

If you’re interested in participating in the full course, Essentials of Instructional Design, it is offered through Sprout E-Learning. It consists of nearly 70 lessons, activities throughout (that you can complete and submit, or not – whatever you prefer), and has been very well-received since launch. Check it out!

DevLearn 2018 | Day 1 Keynote: Julie Snyder

Today is the first official day of DevLearn 2018 in terms of sessions, and I am super excited about the Julie Snyder keynote!

Julie Snyder is the co-creator and executive producer of the podcasts Serial and S-Town. As a huge Serial fan, I have to say that I’m fan-girling pretty hard about having the opportunity to listen to Snyder tell us all about storytelling and what makes a captivating story. EEEEE!

Julie Snyder – What Makes a Captivating Story?


Julie Snyder begins her keynote by discussing the production elements of Serial…basement recordings and waiting for your kids to flush a toilet. She then goes on to discuss how Serial came to be. In the first episode of Serial, the host uses a quote directly from Snyder. She explains how Serial needed buy in from This American Life to get up and running. They had a very cold team meeting, and Serial was pitched as the “This Week” show. They wanted to identify how they could make the “This Week” show a weekly thing.

Ira Glass finally explained they had his buy in…but they asked whether they had any other ideas. That’s when a serialized documentary was pitched. A weekly documentary show that would follow one story each week. Julie thought at that point…that was a good concept. It made sense. She hadn’t heard of this format done before in radio, so it was a cool and exciting idea.

This American Life is very open to experimentation and failing. She indicated that 40-50% of stories done for This American Life end up getting killed, but it provides them with a lot of freedom to trial.

Their first story for Serial fell into place with minimal discussion. They didn’t need a large exploration to find the story – it was an investigation of a missing high school girl. Snyder loved the idea of exploring all of the concepts, especially the criminal justice system. Releasing the episodes weekly allowed for feedback and/or questions across the week that could be addressed in the next week’s episode.

The storytelling problem began with how to make listeners understand the significance of the details contained within dense and complicated content. They wanted to know what Sarah thought. Sarah was very honest about how she felt about what she didn’t know re: whether the information was solid. For someone without a background in crime reporting, Sarah does a great job with her investigations and reporting. Snyder thinks it’s very important to be able to check yourself on things you don’t know.

They had a lot of challenges with Serial, including being able to get access to speak with individuals (e.g., Jay, Adnan’s defence attorney, etc.). Much of the investigation came from a giant PDF of public information that the police deemed appropriate to release. The PDF was really disorganized, redacted, poorly scanned, and very disjointed. They were initially defeated in terms of “what are we going to do with all of this information?”. Once they befriended it, it became the backbone of the entire series (moreso than the trial transcript).

How were they supposed to figure out the importance of the early suspects if they couldn’t communicate with them? The giant PDF of public information!

They explored whether it was okay to make a nonfiction story as entertaining as TV…Serial reminded Julie of a lot of the elements you see in TV (e.g., episodic development). They borrowed elements from TV production, like ‘previously on’ intros and cliffhangers for episodes to come. Julie puts forth a hypothesis about the zeitgeist of Serial. She thinks that when people listened, the part of their brain that lit up when they watched escapist entertainment lit up when they listened to Serial and triggered new interest. What are the ethics? Is it journalism? Is it responsible? Snyder says “Yes!” she believes that artistry is alright in reporting so long as you stick to the truth!

Snyder gives Ira Glass major props for his influence in public radio. She explains that he has trained all of the radio producers, and it allowed them to go out in the world and take lessons learned from Ira. She explains that we should always be looking for the details and the moments in stories. We should try to reflect the world as it is in all the funny and bizarre and upsetting ways that it is. Reporting as artistry creates empathy and moves a story from what it is to something more meaningful.

She discusses Reddit and how the rules of reporting on Reddit are very different from their rules of reporting. They always had to weigh the value of disclosing something that might be damaging to someone…things would be left out, and then pop culture criticized Serial for missing information…information that may actually be there, but that they consciously decided to leave out. On Reddit, a lot of damaging information about real people was dug up that may have damaged individuals….because the Internet has very little rules. Snyder explains that they didn’t see this type of response coming because nothing similar had ever happened with This American Life.

They felt they were losing control and the frenzy of attention and scrutiny was consuming them. When the final episode dropped, they shut down the commenting on the Serial Facebook page. They had been hyper-vigilant about moderating the comments, removing inflammatory posts, etc. They then learned they cannot shut down commenting on Facebook; they can only block information containing various key words. A filter was created and tested…during the testing he discovered that the filter did not work…and “Adnan did it” was posted from the official Serial account. He thought “maybe no one saw it”…and then it was on Twitter and Reddit. The creator felt it was the worst work-related thing he ever did. He couldn’t even bring himself to look at the Reddit thread and found out that everyone thought it was a hack.

Ira came to the team to provide thoughts about how to end the story. He thought it would be great if the team solved the crime. Of course they wanted to solve the case! But as they neared the end of the show, they realized it wasn’t going to happen. However, it provided a question: Were they okay with the fact that someone is facing the rest of their life in prison and the state’s case is still incredibly flawed?

Julie finishes by discussing the relationship between Sarah and Adnan. Her relationship with Adnan was personal that was always evolving. A large component of this type of investigative journalism is psychological and emotional. It takes a toll! Serial felt different because instead of hiding the confusion of the reporting, it was often part of the narrative.