We said farewell to Learning Solutions 2013 last Friday, putting the finishing touches on perhaps the most exciting conference I’ve ever been to. This year’s focus was on performance and I can’t think of a better thing to talk about. Despite all the training created and conducted, all the self-paced “elearning” materials produced and delivered, and all the social learning that’s occurred, what really matters is performance – what an individual can now do or do better as a result of having experienced something (hat tip to Jane Hart / @C4LPT).

General Session 1

The conference opened with a general session featuring Robert Ballard, a modern-day explorer often associated with finding and exploring the Titanic. He talked of his lifelong passion to explore this planet, much of it underwater. Among the many discoveries he described were a 24,000 mile long mountain range under the oceans – Earth’s largest feature – discovered only after astronauts had walked on the surface of the moon. Another discovery, that 23% of Earth’s biomass lives in its crust, and an answer to why the oceans are salty. What was perhaps most interesting from a performance perspective (not that these discoveries weren’t the result of amazing performance, commitment, and dedication) were a series of discoveries made by reasoning where the best place to look would be and devising the best way to search for them. In short, others made discoveries by looking in places most convenient to them. He found what he was looking for by looking in the right place. Performance.

Featured Session

Of three parallel featured sessions, I listened to Andy Hunt talk about Herding Racehorses and Racing Sheep. Andy’s area of expertise is in agile software development, but he brought a few key lessons to the L&D field. The most memorable to me include the importance of getting rapid, real-world feedback, and the notion that experts use intuition to solve problems. This led to the following tweets, which pretty much sum up my take-away from the session:

 

Parallel Sessions

There were two more opportunities to join parallel sessions on Wednesday. The first I joined was on the topic of Evaluating and Using Cloud Technologies for Hands-on Learning by TJ Palazzolo of Oracle Corporation. He described how cloud technologies – particularly Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) – can be used to rapidly deploy computer/server test environments for students to work in, and how using templates can simplify and nearly automate the process of creating new virtual infrastructure as needed.

The second session on Wednesday afternoon was led by Neil Lasher: Changing the Way We Train-Lessons from the 2012 Olympics. Neil described the daunting process of interviewing, selecting, and training tens of thousands of volunteer games-makers for the 2012 Olympics. Training was largely face-to-face, not a stack of PowerPoint slides or page-turning “elearning” products. The effectiveness of face-to-face training can’t be overstated in this case. As Neil said, it’s important to consider the scalability of training. In this case, that included large-format “events.”

 

My reflections on Day 2 of LSCon will follow shortly.

Thanks for reading!
@tomspiglanin


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