Learning Solutions 2012 Conference

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Sponsored by the e-Learning Guild, this is the first time I've attend this conf. It seems to be aimed at business and industry - I was one of a handful of higher ed attendees.

Things I liked:

The Timing of Sessions
They staggered sessions of different lengths, so if you were in one and decided it wasn't for you, you could often find another one just starting.

Vendor Showcase
Vendors had opportunities to do a presentation within the showcase area, drawing people into the area and giving them the spotlight for an hour or so. Very nice.

The Art of... Keynotes

This was the theme for the keynotes - The Art of Leadership, The Art of Vision, The Art of Choosing. All keynotes were good. Eric Wahl was AMAZING. His was the best keynote I've ever seen, no contest.  We simply have to get him to PSU. He would be great as a Symposium keynote.

Morning Buzzes
These were birds-of-a-feather early morning optional meetings. Informal and discussion oriented, it was a great way to start the day. Most often I see these as an add-on, at the end of the day or in the evenings. I like the morning approach better. If it's something you are passionate about, attending such a session energizes you for the entire day.

Things I disliked:

The Page-turner Metaphor
We are still stuck in developing instruction in a paged environment. Hard to believe, isn't it? Most of the new tools I saw work under this model. Is it truly the best way to approach learning online, or is it just an easy sell? One developer, Kaspar Spiro of EasyGenerator, writes:

"eLearning courses still use the book metaphor as a standard, and that is really beginning to hinder progress because eLearning is not linear like a book ... it demands a structure that allows for more dynamic interaction. We need to find a new metaphor for eLearning that is more flexible, more engaging, and less structured. One possible solution is Learning Maps: a geographical representation of eLearning content. "

His easyGenerator tool holds promise, but he needs to beef up his web site so you can see the tool in action. Think of it as a combination concept mapper and content generator.

Learning Designers need to continue to look for alternatives like this. Page-turning for online learning is not optimal!

The provided box lunches were adequate, just. For the price of the conference, they should have done better. People remember poor meals.

Spotty Understanding of Accessibility by the Vendors
Some get it and address accessibility, some don't. One tool I've been following for some time - ZebraZapps by Allen Interactions - is an awesome development tool, just as Authorware was at one time. They've yet to consider accessibility, so off my list it goes! Sigh.

In conclusion - a pricy conference, but worth attending every three years or so.

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