I can’t thank Clint and The Alchemy Lab team enough for all of the hard work they put in, bringing a digital L&D conference to folks – FOR FREE/BY DONATION – just when everyone needed a professional development pick-me-up. Thank you, thank you, thank you! There are so many great sessions that I had trouble choosing, and will have to go back and watch the replays of the ones I missed out on.
Keynote: Karl Kapp – The Power of Play and Games in These Uncertain Times
The conference kicks off with a great keynote in Karl. Most people know his name and/or books, and his sessions are some of my favourite to attend at conferences. We’ll be talking about how to use games to help predict future behaviour.
In March 2020, there was a 75% increase in playing games around the world! WHAT?! And 1.6 billion spent on software and gaming devices. That’s bananas!
How can we play games for learning outcomes, and not just to pass the time? Kapp discusses how games are not just about playing; games help us cope, enhance well-being, and to socialize. We live in a wild world where new games exist: Corona Ball and Social Distancing Tag. Oi vey. Did you know that Candy Land was created because of the polio epidemic? Me neither!
Karl moves on to discuss adapting games to our environment, explaining that card games that were previously distributed to organizations to make learning (various topics) more fun/meaningful, have moved to a digital environment. Games can be informative – such as the pandemic-related games. People are interested in these games for a variety reasons, but a lot of these games teach!
Plague, for example, helps educate and allows us to place our anxieties into the larger content, and make sense of the world around us.
The Sims were released in February 2020. There was a virus in the Sims the occurred in April of 2000 – if you didn’t clean your guinea pig’s cage, put your hand in the cage and got bitten, you would get the disease and could die. The idea was that you could recover from the disease if you treated it correctly.
Whyville had a virus outbreak in February 2002, whypox. People learned in this game that there were ways to cover the disease, contract the disease, avoid the disease, prevent spreading, or spreading the disease. Students who played the game, became more educated with how to handle disease.
The World of Warcraft Corrupted Blood Incident was the largest unplanned game-based virus. If you were near the end of the game, and went to fight Hakkar, you and your pets could contract the disease. Once studied, it was found that the spread was similar to how viruses are spread in real-life. For example, community spread. Blizzard, the game-maker, came into the game and tried to quarantine players, but eventually had to program a patch release to resolve the issue.
In 2019, a Government sponsored table top game, called Crimson Contagion emerged. The outcomes of the game found:
- Insufficient federal funding for a severe pandemic
- Confusing on how to apply the Defense Production Act
- The current medical supply chain and production capacity could not meet the demand
- Global manufacturing would be unable to meet the demand for PPE
In today’s world, this is all very familiar. Perhaps had key decision-making folk played this game, they would have learned a thing or two.
In closing, Karl summarizes the power of play and games as helping to acknowledge content (e.g., return-to-work from Coronavirus), they help calm, they help educate, and when the outcomes are observed in some games, they can be used to predict behaviour. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I always love Karl’s sessions. They’re always super informative, and this session was no different!
Kassy LaBorie – Interact and Engage! Activities for Engaging Virtual Training
I’m excited for this session – Kassy’s such a lovely personality, and while I don’t do a ton of virtual training myself (right now), this is an incredible topic and Kassy is the queen of virtual training! In my alter ego of instructor, I want to load my arsenal with tips and tricks.
First off – As a Microsoft Teams user, I’m both excited and terrified by the mention of new features coming this month….eeeee. Good? Bad? We’ll have to see!
What are we doing here? There are a lot of different names for what we’re doing – online training, webinar, virtual training – it’s kind of like job titles in Learning and Development.
With this conference, we’re doing a Webinar. There are lower-level learning objectives, a larger number of attendees, and are interactive. Live virtual classroom training involves higher-level learning objectives, smaller groups of participants, and is interactive/collaborative.
So, within webinars, what can we do to help make them less passive, and more engaging? Start by identifying the goals and objectives, determine what’s social (which objectives are best completed with others?), and then map interactions to the platform features (what interactions will you create using the platform you’re given).
LaBorie talks about the importance of warming up – Show folks how to use the tool (e.g., whiteboard, muting, etc.) or through reflection. Warm ups allow users to prepare themselves for learning. Recipe for the warm ups:
- Get people connected to content/tools
- Start the conversation and establish the environment
- Map the features
Next up – ice breakers. Whenever I start a workshop with an ice breaker, I always ask how many folks dread these. I ask them because the introvert in me has always been someone who would rather crawl inside of myself than participate in an icebreaker. The responses are always up and down – some workshops, people love them, some workshops, people hate them, and some workshop is a mix. Maybe we should just rebrand?
For collaborative discussion, you can start with change discussions, such as providing groups with quotes and asking that they choose one that resonates with them, which they will discuss with their groups.
Scavenger hunts can appeal to the inner competitive player in all of us, and can be a great way of both locating information, content, or resources, as well as engaging participants in the content/subject matter.
Making connections activities are perfect for wrapping up a section of the training. This is very similar to making meaning conferences in K-12. Images are presented (or topics, no visual needed), and participants create a narrative/story.
This was a great session from Kassy! One of the things I really enjoyed was that each activity presented came with a recipe. And a recipe is a good way of remembering how to deploy any activity you design.
Matt Ash – From Betamax to Fleedwood Mac: Failure & How to Bounce Back
I’m waiting in the session lobby, so I’m gonna go ahead and turn on some Fleetwood Mac to prepare!
Matt is the Director of Learning at Media Zoo, and he starts his session by taking us back to 1976 with Fleetwood Mac, a band plagued by divorces, fights, drug abuse and other disasters. Coming off of a very successful tour, success should feel different, but everything was falling apart.
According to our polls, fear of failure is very present, but it feels very different things to all of us. For me, I’m afraid of public speaking (particularly in front of a jury of my peers), what people are thinking/saying about me, and leaving the bathroom with my skirt stuck in my underwear. Though I’m slowly conquering all of those fears, trying to be more compassionate with myself, and just quadruple checking my butt before leaving the bathroom.
Fleetwood Mac made a masterpiece out of heartbreak – “thunder only happens when it’s raining”. We can create powerful things from the trenches. So it’s not about escaping failure, it’s about reframing failure. We need to be clear about what we’re trying to achieve and believe in it. That doesn’t mean that we won’t change. We can change and adapt as needed, but keep your goal in mind. Suitcases with wheels were once considered a failure – I love my Away suitcases, and they have built an entire brand on suitcases with wheels!
Next up, he discusses the Betamax, a tape war won by JVC. Betamax is shaking their fists at the abandoned boxes of VHS tapes in everyone’s basement. Betamax was too expensive and VHS was more easily available. It doesn’t matter how good something is (e.g., Betamax) if people aren’t using it! Similarly, with blu-ray vs. HD DVD – it’s very important to learn from your mistakes.
Finally, Matt discusses the curious case of Lizzy Grant. She recorded an album that was pretty much forgotten, but reframing her failure as Lana Del Rey – she is wildly successful! So if you fail, keep trying. Great advice!
- Know what you’re trying to achieve
- Expect it to go wrong
- Work collaboratively
- Try again
- Build a process around these principles
Overall, this was a great session. I lived for all of the pop culture references, and would if you ever see Matt Ash on a conference schedule, you must attend – he’s a fantastic presenter!
Kati Ryan – WAKE & SHAKE THEM UP: Injecting Fun Into Your Onboarding Training
I recently connected with Kati on LinkedIn, and was super excited to attend this session. The millennial in me is perpetually distracted, so I wanted to learn some tips for keeping and engaging attention. From a selfish perspective…for myself. Keeping and engaging my own attention, but also for my learners.
Kati begins her session with a pulse check; we saw these in Kassy’s session as an ice breaker – You receive a prompt (how do you feel about onboarding programs), select the image that resonates most, and indicate why.
30% of employees voluntarily leave an organization within the first 6 months.
Three main reasons:
- Poor onboarding experience
- Lack of understanding (how to succeed/what’s expected)
- Crumby manager
However, we can resolve these issues. She uses terrifying mountaineering photos to help illustrate her point (holy crap!). We need to tell stories, use pictures/images, and try to engage our learners in new hire training. We need to help guide learners so they don’t feel as though they’ve had a poor onboarding experience, they do feel like they know how to succeed within the organization, they do know what’s expected. The crumby manager…that may need more work.
58% of organizations solely focus their onboarding on policies and paperwork.
- Set the stage – Think of it as a branding campaign
- Create cohorts – Helps create community
- Leverage games – But, align them with your learning outcomes
- Inject culture – Hear from someone at the top of the organization (e.g., executive members)
- Weave in Employees – Pair current employees with new employees
- This can allow for stretch opportunities, and create a more dynamic environment
- Design for Retention – It’s more cost-effective to retain employees vs. continually onboarding
Overall, Kati really knows her stuff. She provided tons of tips that we can take back to our own training worlds – onboarding or otherwise – so that we can creating overall engaging learning experiences. This is my last session of the day because I’ve got a cake to bake/frost for my husband’s birthday tomorrow, but I’ll be back tomorrow to 1) present (Top Tips: Articulate Storyline 360), and 2) come through with a Day 2 Recap!