Saturday, October 3, 2015

DevLearn 2015 The Recap - "Listen"

Me Aculpa...And All That

Let me be the first to apologize: For as much as my "Why I Blog" post referenced conference blogging, and how I live blog everything I'm in, I did a marginal job, at best, this time, and definitely feel light in the blog department.  But with that apology comes another...

Sorry...not sorry.

See, there was a reason for the lacking blog presence, and it wasn't that the conference was lacking, or that the sessions weren't diverse, or that something was wrong anywhere.  It was the total opposite: At this conference, I found more going on, more being taught, more intriguing "stuff", and it led me to do something that, admittedly, I'd not done in a long time: Stop typing/tweeting/etc. and LISTEN.

This year's DevLearn was off the chart in a number of areas, but the one that seemed to rise to the top in all accounts was keeping me busy.  And busy is a good thing, I's why:

Honey Do, Honey Do
One of the biggest differences for me this year was that I went from a paltry ONE session being presented to being involved with FOUR (assuming you consider the Morning Buzz among my numbers...which you should...just sayin).  And while that would likely sound like a deterrent to anyone with their head on straight, any of you that know me know that's not the case here (re: my cranium being one attached in a straightforward method).

All kidding aside, being as busy as I was made everything I was able to attend that much more poignant.  I found myself almost "thirsty" to absorb whatever I could amidst my own obligations (and in no way, shape or form am I saying that because I couldn't attend as much things were better...I'm saying that the content was incredibly rich in the narrow windows I could "attend", so I can only imagine how less busy people felt!).  Additionally, presenting/participating as much as I did lent itself to my own personal learning (see: gleaning) from the awesome attendees that were in my/our sessions.  We all know that peer-to-peer education is the strongest, retention-wise, and I feel like because I was surrounded by so many phenomenal audience members, I gained that much more. 

(Not saying I want to do 5 or 6 sessions or anything, Dave...but busy works for me.)

The Spice of Life...(AKA Variety)

Another factor I noticed this year, in and among my attempts to breathe, was the sheer robustness of the conference.  I am in no way, shape, or form saying that any previous DevLearn was lacking - Nothing could be farther from the truth.  But this year, felt a way I'd never experienced it before. 

It's not like I adhered to a track...or hung out with a docent...nothing like that.  I wasn't there looking for anything in particular.  But it was almost like I couldn't turn my head 90 degrees in any direction without finding/seeing something worth attending and learning AT LEAST two or three things I hadn't walked in with.  Even MEMEs, which I consider myself mildly to moderately proficient in, proved educational to me (see: PechaKucha).  And for a longstanding attendee, like myself?  That's pretty damned awesome...(though I'm still working through what, exactly, xAPI actually is...but I'm getting there, Aaron/S Put). 

Overall, just a bigger, better, badder, more innovative conference...I can't say it enough: DevLearn is the Cadillac (or whatever brand car you like best) of the eLearning circuit.

Adam Savage.Relax.  This isn't me fanboying out any harder than I already did (but BELIEVE ME, I could).  This heading is about, first of all, the greatest keynote speaker DevLearn has seen/heard...ever...yes, ever (so much for the not fanboying), but it's not for the reasons you'd think.  It's not for the content, necessarily, of his keynote...though MY GOD it was amazing, wasn't it? (Strike 2, Rosler...).  There were three different times, in the Q&A with Dave, nonetheless, where Adam Savage, for as long as I've watched him/been a fan, had me identifying with him hardcore (and feeling good about my faults):

1.) It's hard to be wrong...even for Adam Savage.  I admittedly can't recall whether it was during his keynote or in the Q&A after, but Adam related to us all how he's had a problem with not knowing things.  Well, last time I admitted that, Neil DeGrasse Tyson threatened to slap me (true story), so imagine my delight knowing that it's really okay (confirmed, even) to not know things.  That one of the greatest joys in life is to actually hang around people who know more than you and just soak it in...that it's a badge of honor, in Adam's eyes, to admit you don't know something.  He related that the smartest people he knows aren't that ones that always have the answers, but, rather, the ones that can ask for the answer when they don't know. I've struggled since the beginning of my career (and then some) to be okay with that, and hearing him say that made me that much better.

2.) It's hard to be a good listener...even for Adam Savage.  For as much as I've always struggled with the whole "knowing everything" issue, those around me have (for the most part) patiently endured my perpetually pending need to spring forth with a quip, analogy, or related story when they've been telling me something.  So, imagine my surprise when someone who I sincerely look up to (yes, Mr Savage) comes out to the audience as a terrible listener!  And, it circles back to the whole "not knowing the answer issue"...if I've got something spring-loaded quick enough, it won't matter that I don't know...they won't have the time to realize!  But it's okay to not know, and it's okay to listen and absorb...again, super reassuring.

3.) Being enthusiastic about things we like is awkward, sometimes...even for Adam Savage.  Probably the point that left me the most gutted, though (in the best way, mind you), was Adam recounting how he liked things that other kids around him didn't when he was 9...and his childhood was awkward, difficult, and so on because of it.  And that it hadn't ended...that even today, mega-success that he is, there's still interests he has that there's a moment (if not more) of embarrassment when he realizes those around him see his enthusiasm...and judge it, if just a bit.  I don't know that there's anyone who grows up to be an e-learning practitioner/figure/guru that DOESN'T experience this, and it was nothing short of reassuring to hear the face of science on Discovery channel say: It's okay.  Be honest - Your interests are different...they might even be weird.  But they're only perceived that way because the perceivers are the ones who are limited.  And the weird kids?  They grow up to be the cool(ish), smart(ish) "adults".  Trust me on that one.

But, At The End Of It All...Community Wins Again

I've exhausted my ability to recall the names of the people I used to simply watch from afar who now accept me as one of their of our I won't even try (with thanks to Mark Shepperd for the idea to not namedrop).  But, long story short, DevLearn is to me, and continues to be to me about COMMUNITY.  Plain.  Simple.  Truth/

YES...I get it, that's my presentation.  YES...I get it, that's what I wrote my recap on last year.  YES...I get's almost a softball response.  I get it all...ALL of it.'s true.  And every year I embed myself further, it becomes more and more true.  The people make the event.  The people who appreciate each other, draw from each other, and give to each other tirelessly.  Let's see if I can do a mass name drop (and if you're not in the mix...sue me):

Jane Bozarth, Ellen Wagner, Dave Kelly, Kevin Thorn, Sarah Gilbert, Cammy Bean, Mark Shepperd, Tom Spiglanin, Jeanette Campos, JD Dillon, Tracy Parish, Aaron Silvers, Sean Putman, Bill Brandon, Clark Quinn, Karl Kapp, Julie Dirksen, Mark Britz, Joe Ganci, Brian Dusablon, Trina Rimmer, Connie Malamed, Steve Howard, Neil Lasher...

Okay.  Enough.  But, as I told people in my session about Community, THESE are the people I can count on, day or night.  THESE are the people who respond at odd hours almost immediately to what questions about damn near anything.  THESE are the people I was nervous to approach and say "Hey...I think things...", only to find out they think them, too.  Just like me. 

And WE...well, we're still smarter then long as you just LISTEN.

Thanks again for another phenomenal experience...can't wait to do it all over again in 2016.  And there WILL be ukes.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Session 614 - Meme-ing the Innovative World of Learning (Dave Kelly, Cammy Bean, Jeanette Campos, Jane Bozarth)

Can you do a whole session centered around memes?  With these four rockstars/icons, anything is possible...20 seconds each slides...four speakers...all memes...GO!

Party Like It's 1532...or 1940 (Cammy Bean)

Cammy Bean discusses the rising prevalence of apprenticeships...taking it back to 1532...or 1940.  Relates an old training video, specifically focusing on the 5 things (in 1940) to find the right people for the right position.  Also mentioned that we're not providing the right training to our managers to be able to do so.  THEN, the managers can go so far as to give their employees the support they need, too.  GENIUS!

But where can we find this training?  Cammy relates a story of her husband fixing the car by going to "The Google" and trying...and it worked for a bit.  Are we supporting this kind of accessibility in the workplace?  In my experience, anyway, the answer is a resounding NO.  Cammy says to let go of looking to shiny things and buzzwords...just stop.  We're chasing buzzwords and objects.  How can we take the tools that work and use innovation to learn them?  Let's use the older models of learning (apprenticeships) and "play them forward".  How can we support learning naturally?  Ultimately, that's what matters.

Let's innovate, not by looking ahead, but by looking to the past.

Badges...I'm Gamified! (Jane Bozarth)

Jane worries sometimes that we're so concerned and transfixed on the technology that we forget exactly what it's being used for.  It's not just about being gamified, or badges...

We know that things are being automated/robotized.  Bookkeepers, sports writers, pharmacists, drivers...all being replaced.  We're seeing changes in the work is becoming more like Uber.  We'll see changes in daily commutes and issues, then, based on this vocational change.  People will be rewarded for the work they do, not for the hours they work.  We won't have IT departments...they'll become custodians as opposed to gatekeepers because they're not needed.

Created/making will take on a massive upswing (craft beer), independence and beyond.  Workers are going to walk away from the institutional structure, and more to freedom.  Work and social are going to be more tightly interwoven.  We'll develop our own personal networks, reaching out to who we need when we need them.  We'll be dealing with workers who can post ideas to something like Instagram, conferring within their own network, and become more immediate.

Education is going to change massively, away from the K-12 structure it's in now.  We're going to change media literacies away from text.  We'll get away from learning styles, and Myers-Briggs, etc.  We have a more tech-savvy, interenet-savvy workforce than ever before...and it's about damn time.  They can search for answers on YouTube, Google, and so on. 

Wearable tech is becoming more ubiquitous re: personal data.  If you need something during the day, your glasses and watch will provide.  Your "band" is monitoring your health. 

How do we get people to serve the organization's goals?  How do we get people to bring their best self to work?  We're going to have to do a lot better at accommodating, at allowing freedom, at allowing personal style and preference.

The Future is Now (Dave Kelly)

You can't talk about innovation without talking about how things are changing.  We are a group of people who don't move quickly.  We're still LEARNING PROFESSIONALS, but you don't learn someone...we train them.  It's not a bad thing, but it's an honest thing. 

"It's gonna take you 6-8 weeks to create an e-learning course?  AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!"

People are taking control of their learning.  Why are we still giving a SH*T about how many asses were in seats?  Why are we still acting like we care about 'reports'?  Well, what if I told you your role has already changed?

We have to wipe the slate clean COMPLETELY.  We bring old methodologies forward to new ones instead of just replacing them.  The "Course", for example, is the default solution...and they're fine, but it's not the only solution.  We have to stop people from learning to take them, but we should be focusing on being less disruptive with our knowledge-giving.  We need to be curious and look at things differently. 

Change is a good thing.  No, really...but we're all afraid of change...we need to do it.  The future has occurred, innovation is happening in our daily lives, not just our professions.  "The myth that we don't need to change?  BUSTED."

Turning Training On Its Head (Jeanette Campos)

J Campos is legitimate.  For real.

She loves learning and loves chemistry cat.  She spends a lot of time learning and how we can do it better.  Sometimes she breaks the rules and doesn't use memes. 

We aren't training learners in optimal conditions.  It's like putting lipstick on a pig.  Now, we're doing some things right, but we still have problems.  Jeanette recently spent an hour talking about flipcharts, and that's when she realized something had to change. 

Everybody knows how to do the Whip/Nae Nae and it doesn't have a learning objective!  Training is insufficient.  Training itself doesn't lead to meaningful performance.  So, what is the Innovation?

The Innovation is Integration of learning.  "If you could integrate learning...that would be GRRREAT."  Talent management, management, etc...if we could get learning closer to the work to learn while working, THAT'S the innovation.  What if we were able to go into a workplace and invest all of our training dollars teaching colleagues how to coach?  Managers should develop to be teachers and coaches...and it's HAPPENING. 

AM Keynote - The One, The Only...Adam Savage

Innovation in the Making

"When we look at Adam Savage, this is someone who doesn't learn in the traditional ways...he's not teaching anyone, but we're all learning through it." - Dave Kelly re: Adam Savage

His Father, The Painter, The Poet

Adam's dad was a painter and a poet and wrote a limerick, calling out the falsehoods behind academia.  "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" is the quote he references, and he's spot on - Too often we have to have some kind of fact or framework to find something appealing...we can't just like it, we just can't be curious about something. 

Art & Science - We often say about things that are complicated that it's an art AND a science.  Art and science are viewed as opposites, but Adam doesn't believe that they are.  We think of art and science as parts of our culture best handled by EXPERTS.  Three reasons why:

1.) We see Art and Science as opposites.  We see art as a loosy goosy thing that kids do, and science is something we suffer through.

2.) We view art as separate from ourselves.  If you Venn diagramed, we and science would be completely removed circles.
3.) When we don't know something, we don't even try.  Which is BS.

Let's Work Backwards

People look at Jackson Pollack and say "What's so great?  My kid could do that."  Fair enough...but Adam looks back through art movements throughout it's tore through subject and left a story.  But we do that same thing with science: Story is related re: the material science behind breaking spaghetti...and we're JUST NOW understanding how it breaks.

Ellie Lammer did a study of Berkeley parking meters, when she was 12, and whether they were timing correctly.  Her study was so rigorous and so revealing that a piece of legislation (Lammer's Law) was passed and enforces standardization.

Adam foes on to give more examples, but suffice to say...we've been trying to find the story behind the subject.

Every generation since we've been writing stuff down has felt the same way about science.  Want proof?  SPORTS.  All sports talk about science.

The Second Cause - Art is Separate From Us

"Art is ONLY what we like." - Adam's Dad

The only opinion about art that's wrong is when you take it from someone else.  But we do the same thing with science..."I'm just not a math guy".  But Adam's friend (a filmmaker) said "I'm great at math, I'm just not good at numbers."  The art of editing is all about algorithms.  So he's using it without identifying with it.


Let's see:

1.) Come up with a question.  Adam relates, though, that this is the hardest part.  You don't start, necessarily, with the question - You start at the end point and work back to discover where the TRUE question is at (see: Running/Walking in the rain).

2.) Form a hypothesis.  Based on the question, then, what potential truth is it you want to find/arrive at?  Forming a hypothesis is a self-generating act...the more you come up with, the more you come up with.  Ideas lead to questions, questions lead to hypotheses...

3.) Design an experiment that tests your hypothesis.  Pull away variables to get past your biases and test the actual truth in something.  Per Adam, this is one of the greatest ways to look at viewing art. "To know what is true in your secret heart is true for all men."

Conclusion?  The Scientific Method is MOST DEFINITELY a creative process.  Art and science are intrinsic to how we discuss who we are.  When cavemen came together, carving stones in different ways to kill bigger animals? SCIENCE!  When they got together to celebrate killing larger game and drew cave paintings of this process? ART!

It's All Story

When you stand in front of a Jackson Pollack, you'll find a story.  When you look at a map of the universe and its shape?  It's a story.  Art and science are simply two different versions of a narrative.  Science has rigor, art has everything else.  Stories are the reason we have language.  We evolved language in order to tell each other stories, which is a conversation.  Which is culture...and culture is a conversation.  We can be stewards of a better culture by realizing art and science are not opposites.  How do we do better?

1.) Pay Attention - Adam is confronted with ideas and concepts he's never been confronted with before, but if he reads enough about a subject (see: science of viscosity) he can be a steward of that knowledge.  What he came to learn was that viscosity wasn't actually a value, but a relationship.  But if he hadn't had a conversation, he wouldn't have arrived at those truths, and the episode wouldn't have happened as awesomely as it did. 

2.) Speak Your Mind - once you've investigated something enough, it's important to actually verbalize it.

3.) Stay Curious - Curiosity is something that tends to leave's a great moniker for life.  The more curious you are, the more interesting life is. 

4.) Ask Questions - Adam's had to work hard in life at being able to say "I Don't Know".  We have all pretended to know shit, but the most intelligent people Adam knows are the ones who can.  WOW can I relate...

5.) Tell Your Stories (But Listen, Too) - Share your stories, but listen to other people's stories, too.  Are you a listener or a wait-to-talker (!!!)?  Listen to the person in front of you, stop logging your stories.

I could wrap it up with some summary statement, but I'll let Adam speak for it:

"Art and Science are the twin engines by which we improve as a species.  They make us ALL better and NEITHER is beyond our understanding."

So, Adam Savage?  Unbelievable keynote? CONFIRMED.