Posted tagged ‘conference’

E-Learning = Innovation = Science

10 June 2014

Have you ever been to a conference where the presenter asks the audience, “Who’s implemented a mobile learning strategy?”, and only 2 or 3 people raise their hand?

Forgive me: it’s a rhetorical question. I know you have. Because everyone has.

Of course the question might not revolve around mobile learning, but rather gamification, or enterprise social networking, or flipped classrooms, or whatever the hot topic may be.

While a lot of talk is bandied around about e-learning, it’s evident that relatively few of us are actually doing it.

The e-learning panel at AITD2014

To help bridge the gap, I was honoured to moderate a panel session at last month’s AITD National Conference. I was even more honoured to share the stage with Helen Blunden, Matthew Guyan, Anne Bartlett-Bragg and Simon Crook.

The session was entitled E-Learning: Transforming Talk into Action, and the panellists were hand-picked from multiple sectors to share their insights and expertise with us. And that they did.

Simon explained how his science students are using their iPads in class to enrich their learning experience: “Engage me or enrage me”; Matt described his use of Articulate Storyline to develop online courses in-house; Helen shared her experience in using Yammer to cultivate a collaborative culture in a conservative corporate environment; while Anne dove head-first into MOOCs and ruffled a few feathers along the way.

Regardless of the specific technology or pedagogy discussed by the panellists, the overarching advice provided by each one was to give it a go and see what happens.

In other words, e-learning is innovation.


Now I realise that many of my peers will balk at this assertion. After all, e-learning is decades old, and today’s L&D pro’s are tech savvy and digitally invested.

So let’s take the “e” out of “e-learning” already – I’ve argued that myself in the past. However I put it to you that a great many among us still haven’t put the “e” into e-learning, let alone take it out again.

For these people, e-learning represents making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. And when you think about it, e-learning is that for the rest of us too – it’s just we’re more comfortable with it; or, in fact, excited by it.

For all of us then, viewing e-learning through the lens of innovation offers us a crucial advantage: it reframes failure.

You see, innovators don’t think of failure as most people do. Rather than see it as something to be ashamed of, avoided at all costs, and certainly not to be aired in public, innovators embrace failure, they actively seek it out – and most importantly of all, they learn from it.

They appreciate the fact that if you never try, you never know. A failure isn’t an error or a mistake, but a beautiful piece of intelligence that informs your next move.

The trick of course is to ensure that when you fail, you do so quickly and cheaply. You don’t want to bring the roof crashing down upon you, so protect yourself by taking baby steps. Pilot your innovation and if it doesn’t quite work, modify it and try again; if it tanks miserably, cut your losses and abandon it; but if it does work, scale it up, keep an eye on it, continue to modify it where necessary, and enjoy your “overnight success”.


And still I wish to take this line of thinking further. Beyond innovation, e-learning is science.

My definition of science is “systematic knowledge”. If you want to obtain deep, scientific insight, get systematic.

Scientists frame failure in much the same way as innovators do. Again, rather than seeing it as something to be ashamed of, they see it simply as a result. It’s not good or bad, right or wrong. It just is.

The advantage of viewing e-learning through the lens of science is embedded in its methodology. Classic experimental design is based on two hypotheses: the null hypothesis, in which the treatment has no effect; and the alternative hypothesis, in which the treatment has an effect. By running an experiment, the scientist will either accept or reject the null hypothesis.

For example, suppose a scientist in a soda company is charged with testing whether honey-flavoured cola will be popular. He might set up two sample groups drawn from the target market: one group tastes the regular cola, the other group tastes the honey-flavoured cola, and both rate their satisfaction. After crunching the numbers, the scientist may find no significant difference between the colas – so he accepts the null hypothesis. Or he may find that the honey-flavoured cola tastes significantly better (or worse!) than the regular cola – so he rejects the null hypothesis. Whether the null hypothesis is accepted or rejected, it’s a useful result. The concept of failure is redundant.

The parallel with e-learning is readily apparent. Consider the teacher who allows her students to bring their mobile devices into class; or the trainer who delivers part of her program online; or the manager who sets up a team site on SharePoint; or the L&D consultant who supports a group of employees through a MOOC. In each case, the null hypothesis is that her new method, idea or product has no effect – on what? that depends on the context – while the alternative is that is has. Either way, the result informs her next move.

A baby taking a step forward

So my advice to anyone who has never raised their hand at a conference is that you don’t need to don a white coat and safety goggles to transform talk into action. Rather, change your mindset and take a baby step forward.

E-Learning events in Australia in 2014

14 January 2014

As another year dawns, another round of professional development opportunities beckon down under… Bonza!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Australian eLearning Congress
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 11-13 February 2014
• More info: Ark Group

Learning Cafe Unconference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 20 February 2014
• More info: Learning Cafe

The Future of Learning Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 24-25 February 2014
• More info: Informa

Blended Learning Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 12-13 March 2014
• More info: Liquid Learning

• Where: Sydney
• When: 12-14 March 2014
• More info: Association & Communications Events

iDesignX – Australian Instructional Design Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 19 March 2014
• More info: LearnX Foundation

eLearning Design Workshop with Tom Kuhlmann
• Where: Sydney
• When: 20 & 21 March 2014
• More info: B Online Learning

Special Education Technology Needs Congress
• Where: Sydney
• When: 1-3 April 2014
• More info: Association & Communications Events

Australian Government Social Media Best Practice Toolkit
• Where: Canberra
• When: 9-10 April 2014
• More info: Ark Group

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 5-7 May 2014
• More info: CeBIT Australia

AITD National Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 14-15 May 2014
• More info: AITD

Workplace Learning Congress
• Where: Sydney
• When: 16 May 2014
• More info: ElNet

iMoot 2014
• Where: Online (Perth)
• When: 15-19 May 2014
• More info: iMoot

Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference
• Where: Gold Coast
• When: 20-23 May 2014
• More info: Spectronics

EduTECH 2014
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 3-4 June 2014
• More info: EduTECH

The Australian Government Online Learning Toolkit 2014
• Where: Canberra
• When: 18-19 June 2014
• More info: Ark Group

Flat Connections Conference 2014
• Where: Sydney
• When: 18-20 June 2014
• More info: Flat Connections

Moodlemoot AU
• Where: Cairns
• When: 30 June – 2 July 2014
• More info: Moodlerooms

Slide 2 Learn
• Where: Sydney
• When: 1-2 July 2014
• More info: Slide 2 Learn

KM Australia 2014
• Where: Sydney
• When: 22-24 July 2014
• More info: KM Australia

Strategies for Developing Impact Measurement for Your Learning Programmes
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 14 August 2014
• More info: Ark Group

• Where: Adelaide
• When: 25-28 August 2014
• More info: Simulation Australia

SimTecT2014 – Asia-Pacific Simulation Training Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 25-28 August 2014
• More info: Simulation Australia

• Where: Melbourne
• When: 12-14 September 2014
• More info: iwbNet

Australian Computers in Education Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 30 September – 3 October 2014
• More info: ACCE

LearnX Asia Pacific
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 14 October 2014
• More info: LearnX

Blended Learning 2014
• Where: Sydney
• When: 14-17 October 2014
• More info: IQPC

• Where: Sydney
• When: 27-29 October 2014
• More info: Association & Communications Events

V2Conference 2014
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 6-7 November 2014
• More info: V2Training

• Where: Melbourne
• When: 20-21 November 2014
• More info: eWorks

If you are the organiser of one of these events, don’t forget to boil the backchannel…!

Boiling the backchannel

1 October 2013

I enjoy attending conferences.

Unfortunately I don’t attend as many as I’d like because so many of them are prohibitively expensive, are beyond my travel budget, or demand too much time out of the office.

Whenever I do attend, however, I enjoy hearing and seeing what other people have to say and show, because they validate my own ideas, introduce new ideas, and spark tangential ideas. I also like meeting new people in the industry and re-connecting with those whom I already know.

Another aspect of conferences that I enjoy is the real-time chat on Twitter – aka the “backchannel”. When I’m not at the conference, the backchannel clues me in to the key learnings; when I am at the conference, I can peruse the observations of my fellow audience members and share my own. It’s also a great way of putting a face to a name to facilitate the aforementioned networking.

Of course, healthy backchannel activity is in the interests of the conference organiser too. While it may seem counterintuitive, loads of attendees sharing their observations with the Twittersphere for free won’t discourage other people from attending (as the backchannel is inevitably an inferior substitute for the real thing). On the contrary, the backchannel is a vehicle for precious WOM that can raise awareness of the event among the Twitterati and – if it sounds appealing enough – encourage them to attend next time.

So I see heating up the backchannel as a critical aspect of the conference organiser’s role. Here are my suggestions for getting it to boil…

Pan on a gas burner

1. Inform everyone of the official hashtag.

If you don’t, your audience will splinter and they will use various permutations of acronyms and digits which will then dilute the conversation.

So tell everyone up front what the official hashtag is. Even better, include it on your marketing material to get the conversation going before Day 1.

2. Explicitly invite the audience to tweet.

Not only does this give many in the audience the moral authority they seek, but it also reminds those who might otherwise have forgotten.

3. Provide free Wi-Fi.

I realise this might be pricey, but if you want your audience to use the Internet, this is a big juicy carrot.

And if you do offer free Wi-Fi, for crying out loud inform everyone of the access details.

4. Host a charging kiosk.

Even the most ardent of tweeters can’t do much with a dead device.

5. Inform the audience of the presenter’s handle.

Tweeters like quoting the presenter, but they’re less likely to do so if he or she isn’t on Twitter. Even if they are on Twitter, the search function is so awful that it can be difficult to find them.

Putting the presenter’s handle on the last slide is comically late. Put it on the first slide instead, and in the official program too.

6. Resist dressing mutton up as lamb.

I’m constantly amazed by the number of presenters who try to pass off a product flog as a pedagogical exposition. I’m not so much amazed by the fact that they try it on, but that they think we’re dumb enough to fall for it.

Conference organisers need to know that any self-respecting Tweeter will withhold social mention of this imposture in protest.

So change its title to reflect what it really is: a product demonstration. Plenty of people will want to see that, and they’ll tweet about it in kind.

7. Join in.

The conference organiser should actively participate in the backchannel too.

Favouriting and re-tweeting others is a nice way of acknowledging their contributions (and motivating them to continue), while tweeting your own observations keeps the activity humming during flat periods.

Adding extra hashtags (eg #edtech, #gamification, #mobile) will also extend your reach.

Kid saying to his mum - How do you think my first day of kindergarten went? They didn't even have Wi-Fi.

So if you’re a conference organiser, I hope my suggestions help you improve the experience for your attendees and promote your event to potential newcomers.

And if you have a free ticket to give away, I’ll tweet up a storm!

E-Learning events in Australia in 2013

14 January 2013

2013 has well and truly arrived. That means it’s time to plan your next round of professional development events to attend.

If you’ll be down under over the next 12 months, may I draw your attention to the following…

Man working on computer at the beach

ACE2013 – Australasian Computing Education Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 29 January – 1 February 2013
• More info: ACE2013

Australian eLearning Congress
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 6-8 February 2013
• More info: Ark Group

Learning Cafe Unconference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 21 February 2013
• More info: Learning Cafe

E-Learning Summit
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 6-7 March 2013
• More info: Informa Network

iDesignX – Australian Instructional Design Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 14 March 2013
• More info: LearnX Foundation

Simulation-Based Training
• Where: Sydney
• When: 19-20 March 2013
• More info: Liquid Learning

Enterprise Learning Innovation Summit
• Where: Sydney
• When: 19-20 March 2013
• More info: Liquid Learning

THETA – The Higher Education Technology Agenda
• Where: Hobart
• When: 7-10 April 2013
• More info: THETA

AITD National Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 10-11 April 2013
• More info: AITD

iMoot 2013
• Where: Online (via Perth)
• When: 23-27 May 2013
• More info: iMoot

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 28-30 May 2013
• More info: CeBIT Australia

EduTECH 2013
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 3-5 June 2013
• More info: EduTECH

Amplify Festival
• Where: Sydney
• When: 3-7 June 2013
• More info: Amplify Festival

Australian Government Online Learning Toolkit
• Where: Canberra
• When: 19-20 June 2013
• More info: Ark Group

National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference
• Where: Gold Coast
• When: 9-10 August 2013
• More info: IWBNet

LearnX Asia Pacific
• Where: Sydney
• When: 10-11 September 2013
• More info: LearnX

SimHealth 2013
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 10-13 September 2013
• More info: Australian Society for Simulation in Healthcare

SimTecT2013 – Asia-Pacific Simulation Training Conference
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 16-19 September 2013
• More info: Simulation Australia

MoodlePosium 2013
• Where: Canberra
• When: 19-20 September 2013
• More info: MoodlePosium

Developing talent through technology
• Where: Sydney
• When: 30 October – 1 November 2013
• More info: Telesis Events

• Where: Sydney
• When: 11-13 November 2013
• More info: AC Events

• Where: Melbourne
• When: 21-22 November 2013
• More info: eWorks

• Where: Sydney
• When: 1-4 December 2013
• More info: ASCILITE

This list is by no means exhaustive!

If you are aware of any other big e-learning events in sunny Oz, please let me know…


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E-Learning? Ja!

19 March 2012

Last month I attended the Didacta education fair in Hannover, Germany.

I knew it was a big event, but I had underestimated just how big.


Five cavernous halls – each larger than several football fields – promoted the full gamut of the education sector: child care, primary school, high school, further education, workplace training and accreditation.

Each hall hosted stalls, exhibitions and lectures, and every square metre was crawling with people. It reminded me of the showbag pavilion at the Royal Easter Show on Children’s Day.

Didacta education fair, Hannover, Germany, February 2012

My primary purpose for attending Didacta was to gain an insight into the practice of e-learning in Germany, and to compare it to that in my own country, Australia.

E-Learning was a focus topic of the fair this year (hence my presence), so I made a beeline to the “eLearning Joint Stand”.

I can report that the state of e-learning in both countries appears to be very similar.

Didacta logoAmong the recurring themes were:

• Online course development
• Online training delivery
• Learning Management Systems
• Interactive whiteboards
• 3D animation
• Immersive virtual environments

One of the big differences I noticed, though, was a general lack of mobile. Train By Cell was the only vendor on the floor, and they’re American!

Anyway, I’m glad I visited Didacta, if only to validate that we Aussies are cooking along all right.

I recommend the fair for educational professionals, but I advise that a little bit of German helps a lot. Although most of the delegates speak English, the lectures, take-aways and simple things like signage are not bilingual.

I can’t compare Didacta to Online Educa because I’ve never been.

Maybe next year!

E-Learning events in the Asia-Pacific region 2012

10 January 2012

With 2012 gathering steam, it’s time to plan the next round of professional development events to attend.

If you’ll be in my corner of the globe over the next 12 months, may I draw your attention to the following…

Man working on computer at the beach

Australian eLearning Congress
• Where: Sydney
• When: 7-9 February 2012
• Theme: eLearning business case studies
• More info: Ark Group

Learning Cafe Unconference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 16 February 2012
• Theme: Near future of learning in Australia
• More info: Learning Cafe

Australian Instructional Design Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 21 March 2012
• Theme: Designing instructionally sound and engaging learning
• More info: LearnX Foundation

Blended Learning Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 21-23 March 2012
• Theme: Engaging learners with innovative solutions
• More info: Liquid Learning

International Conference on Teaching with Technology
• Where: Singapore
• When: 27-30 March 2012
• Theme: Do IT! Transform learning, shape the future
• More info: ISTE

AITD National Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 18-19 April 2012
• Theme: Learning strategy, training techniques and technology
• More info: AITD

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 22-24 May 2012
• Theme: Stay ahead of the game
• More info: CeBIT

International Conference on Human Computer Interaction
• Where: Tokyo
• When: 29-30 May 2012
• Theme: HCI experiences, research, challenges and solutions
• More info: WASET

eLearning Forum Asia
• Where: Beijing
• When: 12-14 June 2012
• Theme: Engaging technology-driven learners
• More info: Peking University

International Conference on E-Learning
• Where: Hong Kong
• When: 21-22 June 2012
• Theme: Open educational resources
• More info: Academic Conferences International

PLE Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 11-13 July 2012
• More info: PLE2012

KM Australia Congress
• Where: Sydney
• When: 24-26 July 2012
• Theme: Putting the pieces together
• More info: KM Australia

LearnX Asia Pacific
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 29-30 August 2012
• Theme: Learning today for tomorrow’s success
• More info: LearnX

World Human Resources Congress
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 25-28 September 2012
• Theme: What does the future hold? How will business evolve?
• More info: HRIZON

• Where: Auckland
• When: 10-12 October 2012
• Theme: Collaborate, innovate, educate
• More info: CORE Education

Ascilite Annual Conference
• Where: Wellington
• When: 25-28 November 2012
• Theme: Future challenges and sustainable futures
• More info: Ascilite

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you are aware of other events in the Asia-Pacific region, please add a comment below…


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2011: A writer’s odyssey

6 December 2011

Wow! 2011 was a big year of writing for me, with 2 self-published books and over 40 blog posts.

My books are available on Amazon, and I have listed the year’s blog posts below for your convenience.

Thanks for reading!

Tag cloud

Social media

Social media extremism
Smash your wall
My Twitter hero
Who owns the photocopiers?
20 hot resources for customer-facing social media
LATI: A better way to measure influence on Twitter?
A circular argument
The big myth of social networking
Foching up social media

Mobile learning

The 4 S’s of mobile design
Mobile learning – Push or pull?

Informal learning

Viva la evolution
Doctoring the Informal Learning Environment

Content development

Toying with emotion
14 reasons why your multiple-choice quiz sucks
3 hot resources for best practice multiple-choice quizzing
The 2 sources of freebies
Australia’s Nobel Laureates
On the Money

Books and e-books

When is an e-book not a book?
E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 1

Awards and events

ElNet Workplace E-learning Congress 2011
I’m a Best Australian Blogs nominee!
When it rains it pours
8 interesting things at CeBIT
Everything connects at Amplify
Winners are grinners


Selective democracy
Where’s Waldo? – The Minimalist Edition
Foolproof hiding spot for your key
Recent changes patroller
Respect for Klout


Top 5 things I hope not to hear in 2011
Observations of a Critical Theory newbie
The Parable of the Monkeys
Ode to the naysayers
The A to Z of learning
Learning vs Development
Eye of the tiger
Does L&D belong in HR?
When augmented reality isn’t
Psst…! 15 inside tips for sales reps
A question of leadership development
The unscience of evaluation
Clash of the titans


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