Drawing learning design lessons from DevLearn

Gaining insights from experts is always a fantastic way to learn – especially when there are thousands of them in the same place as you. However, New Zealand’s small population means we struggle to get that many people together unless it’s for a rugby match.  

That’s why we were thrilled when our learning designer Adriana Ross (pictured above) was invited to present at DevLearn in Las Vegas.  Not only was this a great achievement in its own right, but it also gave Adriana the opportunity to hear first-hand from the world’s leading design leaders.

The event, held last month, attracted around 3000 L&D pros.  It provided an opportunity not just to showcase Kiwi learning design but also to meet and learn from some well-known names.

Adriana says: “It was a huge event: I felt like a country mouse in the big city when I arrived. People were very approachable though, and willing to share information and insights. In fact, that was the highlight for me.”

Softball eLearning module success

Adriana presented her softball scoring eLearning module at DemoFest, a showcase of learning from conference participants. You may have spotted clips from the module on our social media. 

“People liked the video clips from real games and wanted to know what tools I had used to develop the learning,” she recalls. “One lady who learnt to score softball years ago gave it a thumbs up and said she wished something like this had existed when she was learning.”

Valuable insights from leading learning design experts

Adriana also had the opportunity to meet some learning industry’s leading lights.  Here are her key take-outs from their sessions:

Art Kohn (professor of cognitive sciences):  What we do after L&D training is more important than what you do during training, according to Art Kohn. In the context of neuroscience, if we don’t offer learners a way to boost their learning then much of what they learn will be forgotten.

“As L&D professionals, we know how important follow up can be, but it was interesting to revisit what the research says and to explore new ways of harnessing technology to boost learning in cognitive and social ways,” Adriana explains.

Arun Pradhan (Learn2Learn): His advice on using mental models (shortcuts and tools we use to understand and act) for our own development resonated with Adriana. As we encounter mental models, we should capture them in way that helps us easily access them so we can then learn and apply them.

An example of a mental model she encountered at DevLearn was presented by Josh Cavalier of Lodestone was in his discussion about Microvideo Learning Sequences. This five-step formula for structuring video mirrors Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, a technique for organizing persuasive messages that inspire people to take action. Both are shown below.

Adriana says she aims to apply these mental models to future client projects that involve video.

Microvideo Learning Sequences

Lynda Barry (award-winning cartoonist, author and teacher): Creativity, Lynda says, starts with using our hands, and that ‘our digits’ (fingers) are the ‘original technology’.

Lynda Barry at DevLearn

Adriana (pictured below with Lynda) explains that scribbling and doodling are ways of getting your creativity to percolate: “Just don’t stop (which we often do) because the early drawings aren’t to our standards. ‘It doesn’t happen quickly or all at once for some, but you still have to keep going.”

Lynda Barry with Adriana

Lynda gave simple exercises that she uses with her grad students, such as drawing with their eyes closed, tandem drawing and collaborative sketching. In her words, “There are no rules to what creativity is and isn’t. We need to use our imagination and reconnect with our inner child.” Applying her approach to the creative process, as shown in the wonderful cartoon below, will surely impact the work we do so long as we’re willing to take the risk.

The DevLearn experience was fabulous, says Adriana. “I made new professional connections, explored emerging technologies and feel very inspired to impIement learning boosts and use mental models to augment my own development. I also vow to use paper and pencil more, to ‘warm up my creativity’, especially at the prototyping stage of learning design.”

Are you planning on visiting DevLearn next year?

Adriana is keen to travel with a companion next time, to make the most of the event. If you’re keen to join her in October 2019 then drop us a line [link to Adriana’s email address]. Plus, we’re always keen to hear from people going overseas for other learning conferences because it means we can send an unofficial Kiwi delegation. Do get in touch if you’re making travel plans as we are planning to put a group together.

Want to learn more?

No problem if you couldn’t make it to DemoFest because there’s a free webinar coming up.  The best of DemoFest webinar will run on Thursday 29 November at 7.00 am NZ time. Never fear if you’re not a early riser because you can register for the webinar now and access the recording later.