5 Perceived L&D Takeaways from DevLearn

I have to admit, every time something good ends (like a conference), I’m puzzled by how fast a day went. (As opposed to a 5 hour flight with a twist of turning back after 20 minutes because of a mechnical issue.) But again, I have to remind myself that it is just sheer perception. Time does not go faster. It just “seems to go” faster.

img_4200 Anyway, before this year’s DevLearn, I posted on how to get the best out of a conference.  Mainly, to select  a balanced set of sessions:


A) things I need today to do my job better
B) things I need within weeks to grow
C) things I need in six months to a year to get inspired about the future

On the plane to Las Vegas, what are the chances, I sat next to Jess, first timer at DevLearn. Just when I shared these three points (20 minutes in air), the captain announced that we’re turning back to Philly. They made it sound like a “minor” missed step in the pre-check, some kind of ridiculously unimportant piece of the plane is not functioning. Now, imagine that feeling that every minute you fly is actually adding another minute to the overall 5 hours…


Takeaway #0: The App. It was a great way to connect. Even if you’re far away… So, turning back to Philly. Sign? Stranger Things? There was nothing to do but…

Takeaway #1: Gamifying a painful experience, like a plane ride, does not make the wait time shorter. But it does make it feel like going faster. And that’s the point of gamification! It’s all about the experience. Our perception of the world is influenced by our emotions and motivation.

People who are thirsty perceive a glass of water as taller than those who are not thirsty.

L&D point: Emotions and motivation DO influence our perception, even our attention and focus. You’re not creating the perception of the course on slide 1, where you list the learning objectives your SME insisted on. You’re creating the perception way before that. If L&D wants a seat at the table, we have to show up. We have to change the perception of being a checkmark at the end of a giant project plan. Showing value starts with looking at the world not from a learning perspective but from that of the business.


Takeaway #2: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are very much in demand. The two major industries, always forefront in implementing new tech, were not present at the conference (porn and military). However, it was clear that we’re now in the AWE stage. (Like when eLearning started back in the early days.) I just hope we get this one right, because aside all virtual and augmented reality, I still feel like we haven’t even mastered eLearning yet.

L&D point: If you haven’t seen this, check it out. People who tried the virtual cow experience reportedly did not eat meat for weeks.  I’m excited to explore the possibilities of VR in learning, while also keeping in mind how generally learning projects go today (hectic). Often, even without VR, doing L&D does feel like that cow experience. Technology is never the solution. It’s the vehicle that can take you there faster (if you’re on the right track).


Takeaway #3: Tools are amazing, xAPI is hot! Wondering through the expo gives you the shrills. It’s almost like every tool they’re showcasing is so freaking good at what they’re doing that makes you drool all over the potential L&D impact and issues they can solve for you. Before you buy a tool to solve an issue, make sure that issue is actually needs to be solved!

L&D point: features of an authoring tool is exciting for learning geeks. Sending and receiving xAPI statements sound thrilling. But… Nobody cares! What the business wants to know is simple: how does that impact our goals? (monetary, speed, customer service, innovation, etc.) CONNECT with the business, do the meetings before the meetings, build relationships! Even better, spend a day in a month in the shoes of your audience! They don’t care about click and reveal features. They want to grow and do a better job. Every. Single. Day. So, let’s go and help them!


And that brings to Takeaway #4: Still, very few people know (and even fewer actually use) about Cathy Moore’s action mapping. Here’s my advice: even if you decide not to use learner personas and action mapping, as an L&D professional, you must know about them!

L&D point: Just do it!


Takeaway #5: Stranger Things. I used every opportunity to connect with strangers, as well as people I know from online but never met IRL (in real life). That is one of the best side effects of a conference. You can say hi to anyone, eat lunch with anyone, and socialize with anyone (including speakers or even eLearning Guild ppl) without having a hard time explaining what you do. Half words, and you are connected!




Connection is not simply the distance between objects (and I learned that when my laptop wouldn’t connect to the projector cable or my mic wouldn’t connect with my voice)

Connecting is more than being amazed by how virtual reality is so realistic. Connecting is a two way relationship, a bridge that allows and encourages traffic from both sides. It is an exchange of curiosity, respect and trust. It is not based on distance, it is based on the perception of distance. Our perception of the world, even like vision and attention, are influenced by our emotions. Research indicates that our visual perception of the world (which we tend to think as objective) is indeed influenced by our emotions and motivations.

“[…]for example, when we are feeling sad, we will perceive the hill to be steeper than when we are feeling happy…”

“[…]people who are thirsty perceive a glass of water as taller than those who are not thirsty…”

“[…]for example, both emotion and motivation appear to prepare the visual system to detect relevant aspects of the environment by making them easier to see…”

What now?

Let’s make sure we keep the most important aspect of learning in focus, no matter what technology and platform we’re using. As I said (would have said if I hadn’t had technical issues) in my session:

Gamification is not about extraordinary games. It’s about ordinary people. Doing extraordinary things. Every. Single. Day.


For more details, check out David Kelly’s curation and JD Dillon’s flipmag. Also, watch Ken’s highlights here. And next time I see you anywhere, be sure to connect (and remember, it’s the perception of distance, so you might as well just do it online)!


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