Monday, April 25, 2022

Learning Solutions 2022 - Conference Summary #LSCon

It's been a long time, and, man, it was really good to be back in person with my L+D peeps at the Learning Guild's Learning Solutions 2022 (#LSCon). 

900 or so of us converged in Orlando, Florida for a week of talking, socializing, listening, learning, dining, laughing, commiserating, connecting, and re-connecting. Man, was it exhausting. Also super inspiring. Quite frankly, it was all the things. 

It's as if we were all some kind of salamander-like creatures emerging from under our dark rocks and into the light for the first time in years. We slowly blinked our eyes and looked around. We dipped our toes back into the world of in-person conference activities. We weren't sure if we should hug people or fist bump them or just say hi. We weren't sure if we should wear masks or go free. 
My last large conference was Dev Learn in Vegas in October 2019. Which was like an eon ago, right? Before Everything Changed. It really has been awhile. 

Back in the Olden Times, I used to live blog every conference session I attended. I didn't do that this year, but I did take notes, which I'm going to attempt to turn into a few light touch summaries from which you can hopefully glean a few insights. And I'm going to post them on my blog, which I haven't touched in YEARS. But the timing is right. I'm ready to write and share and get out from under my rock. 


Presentation Roulette (Cammy Bean, Hadiya Nuriddin, Megan Torrance, Destery Hildenbrand, Matt Smith) 

The Guild invited me to join a Tuesday night get-this-conference/party-started event which was a total hoot. 5 presenters, ad libbing and improvising our ways through decks we had never seen on topics we drew out of a hat. My topic: "Why Compliance training NEEDS to be boring." 20 slides automatically timed to advance after 20 seconds. Random stock photography of dogs and chess pieces and whatever weird things the Guild decided they wanted to throw at us. What a fun time with lots of laughs. Watch out for our upcoming world tour ;) 


Opening Keynote - Embrace the Shake: Transforming Limitations into Opportunities (Phil Hansen)

Keynotes are generally meant to inspire and set the tone. This year's keynote did just that. Phil Hansen is a visual artist who's favorite medium was pointillism, a technique which requires deft motor control. While in his early twenties, he developed a tremor in his hand making it no longer possible to draw a straight line or make a precise dot. He figured his life as an artist was over. But then, on the advice of a doctor, he decided to "embrace the shake." The artwork he's since created is AMAZING. Think "outside of the box." Phil shared plenty of examples of inspiring ways he's made art in spite of/because of his shaking hand. Embracing our limitations can actually drive our creativity. He talked about the difference between a limitation (something that has been put in our way) vs. a self limiting believe (something that we have put in our own way). All of us in the keynote session made art together on our phones and Phil's going to put them all together to create a larger work of art. Can't wait to see what we created! 

  • Link to the Bruce Lee video 
  • Link to the TED Talk 
  • Link to the longer video that contains Sarah's story How to 

Use TikTok Videos as Part of Your Learning Culture (Vanessa Alzate, Anchor Training) 

Sounded like fun and although I couldn't stay for the whole session, it was great to consider TikTok style videos as a format for learning within an org. It's what the kids are doing (just talk to my teens). It's edutainment at its finest with learning bites often in 30 seconds or less, imparting knowledge and info that you can put to use right away. 

Ever seen the TikTok video of someone demonstrating how to REALLY use a vegetable peeler?? Now you know, no practice activity required. The best content is goofy and silly, with a whole lot of sass and creativity flying around. Teachers are flipping their classrooms and posting "the facts" on TikTok to then follow up with more experiential learning in the classroom. If you're looking to have a play with TikTok style videos, think about telling stories to create a strong narrative arc to connect with learners. Make it goofy. Keep it light and short. Create a place where your people can create and share their own videos -- just remember it needs to be a place they are already going. You can create private channels on TikTok, but you may also want to think about how you can get TikTok inspired content going on your Intranet, LXP/LMS, or whatever place your people are. 

Check out #LearnOnTikTok for inspiration and examples. 

Best Practices in Instructional Design for the Accidental Instructional Designer (Cammy Bean, Kineo) 

Hey, that's me! This is a session I've delivered many times over the years and it's always a delight to connect with newly anointed IDs who are making their way into our field. If you fell into this field by accident, you are NOT alone. You have a whole community of people who are figuring it out as they go along too! 

The Power of Performance-First Mindset (Bob Mosher) 

Always good to refresh on the 5 Moments of Learning Need with the ever-energetic Bob Mosher. When do we need to learn or perform? 5 key places: New (when I'm new to the content), More (when I need to learn more), Change (when something has changed), Solve (when I need to solve a problem), APPLY (when I need to DO the thing!). Bob reminds us to design for the APPLY phase first and work backwards. Not everything needs training! 


Thursday Keynote - The Future of Work is Here (Crystal Washington) 

Crystal Washington talked about the future of work, with a focus on three areas - the SHIFT we're going through, the TRENDS we're seeing, and how to DRIVE CHANGE (how we understand those trends and bend them to our needs) The world is operating in a state of perpetual panic. Hard to be innovative when you're operating from a place of FEAR. WE think we're changing technology, but technology is changing us. Collect data. Ask questions. Create a trend or bend one that's already existed. Don't wait for someone to tell you what the newest thing. YOU look for the easter eggs and find the hidden treasures. People register CHANGE as DANGER. It's why we resist change. We have FEAR. 

Guild Master Panel: What L&D Needs to Hear (With Learning Guild Masters Julie Dirksen. Nick Floro. Megan Torrance, Ron Price) 

Lively discussion with questions posed by David Kelly from the Guild and the audience. 

Guild Research: Upskilling, Communities, and Engagement (Dr. Jane Bozarth, The Learning Guild) 

Jane took us through some of the latest research publications from the Learning Guild. Lots to dig into around Communities, Engagement, and more. I was late to this session as I had a meeting, so be sure to check out some of the great research reports produced by the Guild (available with a free Guild Membership - well worth the cost, I might add!) 

Content Strategy for LXP Authoring when Collaboration with an AI (Chad Udell, Float Learning/SparkLearn) 

Chad is one of those guys who plays with the new tech and tinkers and is about 50 steps ahead of the rest of the learning world. In this session, Chad shared some of the tinkering and thinking he's been doing with Artificial intelligence (A(), which is already transforming the training ecosystem landscape - e.g, AI enhanced search. 

He reminded us that "AI is just math." 

Types of AI: 

 • Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) - like Nest 
 • General AI or Strong AI 
 • Super AI - Ultron and other scary humanoid robots that will take over the future in some scary sci-fi dystopian time 

Products that are making the mark aren't from the training domain. 

Tools you can use: 

 • Grammarly (when unlocked from your team, it does trend analysis across your entire team) aids in uniformity and quality. (maybe $20 per month per user - saves a lot of time). 
 • - automated creativity tool - generates copy in seconds - marketing automation tool. Feed it baseline info and let it iterate for you, reducing tedium. Good for A/B testing and variations. Creates highly digestible content. 
 • Open AI - got purchased by Microsoft. > you enter in some key words and copy and then it will write you a first draft blog post (it can find your keywords, you can have it edited for a second grader) Higher quality and more $$. 

Lifecycle Learning: Performance at Work (Jeannette Munroe and Cristina Masucci, Sodexo) 

This was a fantastic case study of one sales enablement team's journey to build a world-class sales training program from NOTHING. 
Their challenge? A three part-er: 

 1) Create an onboarding experience (that created a competitive differentiator for the company) 
 2) Grow a positive sales culture (community, confidence, incentive to win) 
 3) Improve conversion (increase seller productivity and reduce cost to acquire a new client > these are the metrics that matter to the biz) 

To design this program - they started with the RESULTS they were after. "What did this program did to achieve for their business?" And they had to better define the problem they were trying to solve. "A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved." This took considerable time to sort through the complexity that was their sales process. 

They needed to understand the way that work gets done and how to get that work done. Then then starting mapping everything to domains (cognitive, psychomotor, affective). They organized all those "tasks" as behaviors. 

Only THEN we were ready to develop learning Jeannette urges designers to "Get best in class at writing objectives." and to "Pick the right verb to drive the right behavior to get the right results." She reminds us that Instructional objectives are for the designers developing the training. Spend good time here this is where most of the hard work gets done. She had visuals for Bloom's behavior wheels for all three domains (look up Atkinson 2010, Blooms wheels) 

They created a two bucket learning program that has been a resounding success: 
 • Onboarding - first 90 days 
 • Optimization - to your last day in role (learning and dev doesn't end with onboarding!) - this is about sustaining and nurturing that sales culture, which they do through an annual Revenue Kickoff Conference in the fall, plus a Revenue Rally in the Spring. They host #FreshFridays once a month on relevant sales topics and #ReFreshFridays once a month to review prior topics. 

They've had a HUGE IMPACT on the business and the revenue pipeline. And they've done it as a sales enablement team of two with virtually no budget. Not only that, but it's all been delivered outside of the LMS. 



DemoFest is always a great opportunity to check out examples of programs real people are building in the real world. This year's conference was smaller than past years - only 22 or so presenters in DemoFest -- and I appreciated the size reduction. It meant I could actually visit most of the tables and check out some cool stuff built in Storyline, Rise, Virtual Reality, aNewSpring social learning platform, and more. And yes, I did kill myself by falling into a lake when trying out a safety program built for the South Dakota School of Mines using Oculus Quest. 

The Guild usually hosts a webinar event post-conference where all the winners show off their solutions. Check it out if you've got the time. 


Working with Vendors (Cammy Bean, Kineo) 

This was a Morning Buzz session I hosted. Casual conversation over coffee at 7:30 am. It was Friday and I had two people show up, but it was a great conversation. One participant is currently in a PhD program for Ed Tech and considering BECOMING a vendor. The other leads a centralized L&D team for a company of 5,000 and is looking to find better ways of partnering with their LMS vendor and content vendors. As I AM on the vendor side, we had a lot to talk about! 

Leadership Learning (David Kelly, The Learning Guild) 

David is the CEO of the Learning Guild. So it was kind of like hearing the Father of the Bride give a toast at his daughter's wedding. OK, not really. But sort of. David talked about key traits of leaders in the learner space (really, any space, to be honest). And shared great ideas for how to put these in action with your own teams. 

The Expo 

The Expo was open Wednesday through Thursday. It was nice to NOT be working a booth myself this year, cuz that really is an exhausting conference experience. A smaller Expo than I've seen in years with about 30 vendors, but pretty much as expected given our collective emerging-from-under-our-rocks status in April of 2022. A few new names and logos to check out, and some big names missing from the usual suspects list (no Articulate or Adobe booths). I'd say more than half of the vendors were pitching platforms -- Learning Management Systems, LXPs -- with a few other tool vendors, translation providers, and just a few content development companies. There was talk of xAPI and building content for Apple Watches, with a little Virtual Reality thrown in the mix. 


And that was a wrap for me! I had to hit the road before things finished up on Friday so I could get home and crawl back under my rock and missed the last few sessions and closing keynote. It was great to get to so many sessions this conference and to participate so fully in the conference experience. I'm super full of learning theory and learning nerd-ery and feel pretty inspired and pumped up, in spite of the afore-mentioned exhaustion. And I did have some amazing meals out with some of my favorite learning people. 

Until next time! It was great to be together again. #Grateful