Reflections from DevLearn 2016

DevLearn 2016
DevLearn is one of Xyleme’s favorite conference and expos of the year because it attracts the world’s brightest organizations and learning technology lovers. This year, show producers appealed to show-goer’s creative spirit challenging them to examine how creativity influences learning, with the keynotes focused around storytelling, creative problem solving, adaptive content and the new realities of learning.
The people that we met were eager to listen, discuss, learn, and share more than ever. We knew that DevLearn was going to be an influential event for us, our goal was to take full advantage of all it had to offer! Our main objectives for attending and sponsoring this year included, professional development of our staff, market and product research, customer, and partner relations, and of course, business development. This article sums up what we learned, observed, and took away from the event.

L&D is really struggling to keep up with an increasing number of project requests,” said Leslie Farinella, Xyleme VP Customer Success. “Managers need to reduce development cycles and are looking to other disciplines for inspiration. Agile is replacing ADDIE, rapid prototyping is replacing long design documents, and Design Thinking is being used to design better learning experiences for the end learner. Managers are realizing that it doesn’t make sense to spend 3 months developing content with a shelf-life of 9 months and, thus, they are looking for tools to help them create professional looking outputs in less time. Unlocking analytics to quantify what is working and what is not is a key and somewhat elusive objective. More, better, faster is driving L&D to rethink many of their old habits.

“Learners are sick of paternalistic and boring courses that are outdated the moment after they are created, they want more dynamic learning applications that work the way they do.”

Caleb Brunel, Xyleme Senior Solution Architect

Caleb Brunel, Xyleme Sr. Solution Architect noticed, Many attendees expressed that they are looking to go ‘beyond the course’ in 2017. Given the ever-increasing number of eLearning authoring tools and other related platforms you would think the needs of learners are being met, but in conversation after conversation I heard the need to give learners a more integrated experience that is more in-tune with the internet and other web applications they use to do their jobs. Learners are sick of paternalistic and boring courses that are outdated the moment after they are created, they want more dynamic learning applications that work the way they do.

Not at the expense of creativity but to increase the speed of it, there is more focus from vendors now on creating templates and pre-built configurations for learners. Clearly the complexity of managing the creation of engaging content, configuring it to report the appropriate analytics and deploying it to various LMS and non-LMS distribution points has started to overwhelm L&D,” said Xyleme CEO and President, Greg Schottland. “Vendors are getting a clue that is has to be a lot easier for users.

People generally want two things, the first being able to build and access their learning content faster and easier. The second is to deliver great looking content rapidly at a lower cost. Overall, do more with less! These ideas flowed through three aspects of learning content development and distribution:

  • Authoring: simplified interfaces accessed easily through browsers, and/or offering rich sets of templates for their content.
  • Content Access: finding the content and distributing it to learners via a quick search mechanism was a common theme.
  • Creation and Distribution Process: Agile processes are gaining ground in learning development. The managers, authors, integrators, and consumers want a repeatable, consistent, manageable process that is iterative. said,Jim Franzel, Xyleme VP Engineering.

“In the learning industry, authors are used to working on one project by themselves. With shorter deadlines, they are having to move out of their comfort zone and start to work in more of a team environment,” remarked Xyleme CTO, Trey Spiva. “There was a lot of sharing of ideas and discussion about how to better manage projects together.”

“Content curation, analytics and performance support (via mobile) are key topics that I heard not only at DevLearn, but also at the Masie conference this year. There is a general shift in thinking to take learning beyond the course and beyond the LMS. This is great to hear since Xyleme can help organizations do that,” said Kathy Bernardino, Xyleme Regional Sales Director.

“At DevLearn and Masie this year, I consistently heard that L&D departments need to produce and deliver more content than ever. It must be done quickly and cost effectively and made easily accessible whenever the learner needs it, however L&D teams are lacking the tools to accomplish these goals,” mentioned Cindy Bequeaith, Xyleme Business Development Manager. “Getting support from upper management to seek out new tools and solutions is also a challenge when budgets are tight. This is a major dilemma for content developers.”

“One thing I like about DevLearn is that the big LMS vendors don’t exhibit, which opens up the expo floor (and people’s minds) to consider the other types of solutions needed in the learning tech stack. Although virtual and augmented reality was the new thing and this was a great place to get a first look, the people I spoke with were more focused on solving practical issues of delivering smaller learning experiences that are more memorable and tracking them (with xAPI). I was concerned that a focus on creative thinking would foster more of this one-off artisan approach to every learning experience, and in fact the opposite was true. People want rapid creativity, which means you can pull a character off the shelf, or build an animation from simple parts, or assemble a course quickly from existing topics. This is the kind of thinking that will drive more collaboration and move L&D ahead,” said Monica Kraft, Xyleme Director, Product Marketing.

As you have read, the Xyleme employees who attended DevLearn 2016 had substantial take-aways from the conference. The consensus was that demands being put upon learning and development teams is growing substantially, but without the allocation of additional resources. Simultaneously, the entire industry is in the middle of a giant shift as learners are requiring blended learning and content that extends beyond the course.

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