Lessons Learned from DevLearn 2019

Last week I attended The eLearning Guild’s DevLearn conference in Las Vegas, NV. It was my second time attending the event (my previous visit was in 2016). For those who haven’t attended a DevLearn conference before, it is a 3 day event where practitioners in the industry gather to discuss industry trends, best practices, and tips and tricks. On top of all of that, the guild also offers 2 days of pre-conference workshops for those looking to expand their skills even more.

Overall, I’m a big fan of the guild events. They’re actually my favorite in the industry to attend. It’s a great opportunity to connect with others, see what their working on, and share stories. I always come back with key nuggets that I cant wait to share with my team. This trip was no exception, below are a few highlights from the trip:

I LOVE my learning network!

First and foremost it must be said. I love my learning network! At this years DevLearn, I was able to meet some amazing people that I’ve been chatting with online for years now (like Tim Slade, Cara North, and Nick Floro).

Spending time with Matthew Pierce & Cara North at Demo Fest

I spent time with some of my former teammates at The Predictive Index. I also met others who are creating learning experiences for industries completely different than mine, such as emergency response and law. It is an amazing experience when you’re connect with others who share the same passion as you. You’re able to learn from their each others experiences, discuss differences, and challenges. It just goes to show how much of a common thread learning and education truly is.

Industry Trends

Overall, I attended about 15+ sessions over a span of 3 days and noticed some trends occurring in the industry:

AI is coming and as learning professionals we need to adapt.

There was a-lot of talk about whether AI is going to take over the future of work or not. This was definitely highlighted by the fact that one of the main keynoters was Sophia, the Robot. The key takeaway from these discussions is that AI will absolutely transform the way we do our work. It has the potential to automate many of the manual processes we do in our work , like capturing screenshots, creating step by step instructions for job-aids, helping write assessment questions, and curating learning content. As practitioners, this will leave us with time to do more of the creative work we love – YAY!

The rise of Learning Data is here!

With the rise of xAPI over the past few years, many in the industry are beginning to think more critically of their learning data. In total, there were over 13 sessions focused solely on data and measurement! I actually attended a pre-conference workshop with Sam Rogers of SnapSynapse about How to Make Better Training Decisions with Your Learning Data.

One of the major takeaways I got from Sam’s session is that in order to truly track the impact of our learning interventions, we need to take time from the outset to identify the outcomes and behaviors were looking to change. If we don’t know this, how will we know if were successful?

Additionally, one major area is the collection of data but what happens next? This is where the beauty of storytelling comes in. As practitioners, we need to think about the what our stakeholders care about, what decisions are we trying to influence with our data, and what is the best way to convey this to them?

There is a difference between learning strategy and product strategy

By far, the biggest takeaway for me came during Frank Nguyen’s guided panel discussion on Transforming from Learning Professional to Learning Leader. Frank and the panel highlighted the importance that as learning leaders we need to force others to think about the instructional strategy rather than immediately jumping to solutioning. This means identifying the true performance problems taking place, advocating for the learners and their needs, and determining an instructional strategy and experiences that support that. Learning is not simply defined by one up learning events but rather an entire ecosystem and all of their parts working together.

Overall, DevLearn was such a great experience. I’m so grateful to meet many of my friends in person. I can also say, i’m really happy to be home in my introvert cave with my cats. I look forward to seeing everyone at Learning Solutions in March 2020!

4 responses to “Lessons Learned from DevLearn 2019”

  1. Hey Michael,
    Thanks for writing in. I’m glad to hear your boss has approved letting you go to one of the guild conferences, they’re such great events! To echo Chris’ sentiments, I have found that DevLearn events are much larger in size and tend to focus on more technical topics such as learning analytics and measurement, AI/ML, development, programming, and other top trends in the industry. I’ve found Learning Solutions to be much more intimate in size with sessions focused on performance support, instructional design, and actual tactics and strategies around implementing learning experiences. I think the one that would be most beneficial would be dependent upon your goals inside your organization and personal development. Happy to chat more about it as well!

  2. Chris! So awesome to hear from you – Hope you’re doing well! Definitely missed your presence but fingers crossed we’ll be able to catch up at one of the guild events in the future.

  3. Hey Roberta, thanks for the great insight and summary of DevLearn. I didn’t get to go this year, so I’m on a quest to hear about what others learned! I’ll try to catch you at the next one.

    @Michael: DevLearn tends to have more technical sessions (authoring tools, programming, developer-type stuff) where Learning Solutions is a more general conference with lots more sessions on ID, learning strategy, teaching techniques. Hope that helps!

  4. Michael McFarland Avatar
    Michael McFarland

    Hello Roberta,
    I’m fairly new to the instructional design/elearning field. I’ve been working at Brown & Brown as a Teammate Learning and Development Partner. My past has been I.T. support for about 19 years, so I’ve got some tech knowledge along with 13 years of Adjunct instructor experience from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I have managed to convince my Leader (boss) to let me go to Dev Learn next year, but she thinks the learning solutions conference is the one to go to. I’m somewhat confused in which conference I should go to if I have to choose. Do you have any ideas on where to find info on Next October’s conference and insight as to which one would be most beneficial.

    Michael McFarland
    Teammate Learning & Development Partner
    Brown & Brown University

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