Thursday, October 29, 2015

DevLearn Reflections

Just back from DevLearn and still reeling under its effect, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my experience with everyone. Though team Raptivity has been a known face at DevLearn, it was my first visit, and my maiden chance to experience it live, and I must admit, I was bowled over.

I was there with two other team members, for all three days of the conference. I attended visitors at our booth, participated in DemoFest and attended speaker sessions whenever I could grab a chance.


Raptivity Team with me in the center.

Harbinger, Raptivity’s parent company, completed its 25 years of operations on October 1 this year. DevLearn gave us a perfect chance to celebrate this occasion by giving us a chance to talk with many of our customers at the booth. Infact, I also got to meet some customers who have been using Raptivity since 2006, when it was launched. I was overwhelmed and so were they. Loyal customers are a real asset. Apart from these joyous meets, most of the visitors at the booth loved the idea of using Raptivity interactions seamlessly with various authoring tools and LMS.

Talking about speaker sessions, overall, I liked the depth and breadth of topics covered across DevLearn. It touched upon all facets of eLearning development process; whilst also catering to all levels of eLearning professionals, from novices to CLOs. Through dedicated tracks on gamification, videos and BYOLs, one could aim to become an expert in one thing or attend various different sessions to get an overall understanding of what was happening in the eLearning fraternity at a high level.

Coming to DemoFest, it took place on the last day of the conference, and for me, it was the best part of DevLearn. I loved the thrill of real world examples being showcased live. There were over 90 projects being showcased and ours was one of them. There were moments when I could actually relate a project to some of the sessions I had attended, and it was quite exciting to realize that connect. 
DemoFest where Janhavi, Raptivity team discussing with Joe Ganci

On the whole, DevLearn was a fascinating experience for me, wherein I could learn different things, seek validation on different ideas, network with eLearning professionals from across the globe, and even meet some old customers.

If I have to segregate my learning experiences in different buckets, here are some of my key takeaways:
  • There is a lot of excitement about mobile learning. An important aspect while creating mobile based designs is to focus more on user experience and simplicity rather than jazzy animations and interactions. Although, people are open to try out smart-phone based learning, not many have actually implemented it. I personally feel, this is probably due to the lack of tools to support seamless development for smart-phones, tablets and desktops alike.
  • Performance support based designs are something to watch out for, where the role of an eLearning professional goes above and beyond ID and multimedia designer, infact, it becomes comparable to that of a technology professional. It allows us to think beyond LMS and courses, traverses a whole new world of systems and processes where learning happens through various encounters people have with them.
  • One strong message which came out loud and clear was the strategic shift of thinking beyond just tools and focusing on end results. People now consider that tools are just a way to support and complement end results. So, rather than thinking what tool to buy and what can be done with it, many speakers insisted that course creators think about the end goal for their learners and then use various mediums to deliver it such as infographics, videos, mini-modules, courses, discussions over facebook, etc.
  • Agile project management technique was a highlight across various sessions. Since I come from a software product development background, I was very happy to see people’s openness to this technique. People are still trying to figure out how to use Agile in their individual organizations. This is one area where our organization can definitely participate and share more based on our earlier experiences.
  • Natalie’s session on ‘Learning without Boundaries’ was a big motivator. It forced me to think about my foundations for success, which could be described as:
    • Ready to fail and try again
    • Being open to say “I don’t know but can try"
    • Teamwork
    • Ability to understand other’s view point rather than criticizing them
I would end this write-up on the last note I shared from Natalie’s session. As she pointed, I should be ‘open to share what I have learnt with others’, I shared everything that I learnt at this conference. I hope it will be useful for the readers. Looking forward to hear your thoughts.