Thursday, 28 February 2008

First Thoughts After ASTD Sessions

I’m on the flight back from ASTD TechKnowledge and thought I should try to capture some initial thoughts from the conference and sessions while it was still fresh and before life clouds my memory…

I did two sessions and face time at the conference. I also had some really good lunch conversations. I found that one-on-one and small group is a fantastic way to have meaningful discussions. It’s too bad that there aren’t ways to do more of this at a conference.Are there models for this that people have seen work at different kinds of conferences?

I need to go back and look at Better Conferences, Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee to see if there were suggestions.

I read the evaluations from both sessions before I left. I always appreciate written comments thanks to the people who spent the time to write something. By in large I got very favorable evaluations on the first session and a mixed bag on the second.

The first session was an Introduction to eLearning 2.0. The slides were similar to eLearning 2.0 Presentation - ISPI Los Angeles.

I felt this session when pretty well. The audience had diverse experiences, backgrounds which always makes it challenging. Generally people were familiar with what a Wiki was, but few had ever edited a Wiki page or seen it done. At least I showed that in my session.

About 15 out of 130 were bloggers – likely on personal topics – one was politics. Only 2 people said they read my blog. Yikes.

Almost no one was familiar with social bookmarking.

How much ground can you really cover in an hour? I tried to go all the way from the overall landscape to individual tools back to the new landscape that is eLearning 2.0. That was a big challenge.

I’m going to do a similar presentation in June at ASTD ICE in San Diego. I’m going to try to work on improving the flow a bit. Otherwise, I’m not sure what I’ll change.

The Second Session was intended to be a discussion session that was eLearning 2.0 - Applications and Implications - a follow-up to the first session. I used suggestions from Conference Breakout Sessions to help me design this session.

As I said, the second session was not rated as high. I’m going to write a follow-up post around the discussion in the session and some other more detailed thoughts. But some high level thoughts... Oh, and I just saw that Kevin Jones posted his thoughts around the session: TK08 - Tony Karrer and Implementation of Social Learning.

Challenges / Mistakes

  1. Needed a better session description. It was not clear that this was a discussion, Q&A with relatively little presentation.
  2. I was planning for 30 and instead had more than 100 – not even sure how many more. I have not been successful getting into small group discussions at large conferences.
  3. Room was way too big and hard to hear some contributions. And with that size, people were not able to get their questions asked and answered. I’m sure it was probably somewhat frustrating. However, some people said upfront that they wanted to be lurkers, so maybe it was okay for them.
  4. I needed to seed the audience with more people who had hands on experience. We had about 7-10 people with real experience of different kinds.
  5. People did not offer up as many examples of where they’d like to use Blogs, Wikis, Social Bookmarking as I anticipated. I thought they would be just rolling out. Especially with the survey to prompt some ideas. It would have made the session a lot more energetic. Again, seeding would have worked much better. Once I started asking for examples, that worked well. Of course, it was hard to hear.

Things that went okay / well

  1. I’m really glad I didn’t do small group discussions Conference Breakout Sessions - thanks everyone for steering me away from that. It would not have been good.
  2. Good examples from the audiences. Intuit – Wiki for customers to discuss tax issues. Worried about quality. In the end, updates happen in about 5 minutes if someone posts something wrong. Good adoption.
  3. People were able to voice challenges that they faced and I feel we had good discussion / sharing around these challenges. Kevin said he was frustrated that he couldn't jump in and dismiss some of these more quickly. I think I should have attacked it that way instead of getting the list all at once.

Overall, I might try to do this again, but I’m going to have to figure out how to overcome some of this. Clearly 75 minutes is not enough to discuss eLearning 2.0, but having a discussion of eLearning 2.0 for the next 75 minutes is not quite right either. More guidance and structure would have probably been better. Hmmm … okay, I’ve got some ideas. That makes me feel a bit better.

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