DevLearn session summary 1. Stories from the first half of week One

Welcome to the first of four summaries from DevLearn 2020. Unlike the usual conference experience, this year DevLearn is 100% virtual. That means that all sessions, the Expo and the DemoFest can be accessed through a browser. DevLearn decided to make each Wednesday Expo and DemoFest day, which means that the other 8 days are for sessions.

The sessions are usually live where you can interact with a subject matter expert or panel on a particular topic, or chat directly to presenters in after houses session. Additionally, there are recorded on-demand sessions which are timed but can be reviewed any time after the conference end for a few months. What’s great about DevLearn 2020 is that they use a browser-based portal called attendify that embeds Zoom and other interactive features. It’s well worth checking out.

For the first two days, Ian attended about 10 sessions. Here are the main highlights.

1. Trends in learning today: Where should I focus? with Nick Floro

This was a rapid fire session looking at how to design amazing experiences, new tools, apps and resources, and future trends in learning. Nick is a goldmine of information and knowledge in learning tech. It’s way too much to list here, so we’d recommend going directly to his slides to get the lowdown on what to invest in. Nick’s slides can be accessed on Slideshare here.

2. How scenarios, assessments and feedback can reduce learner overconfidence with Bryan Smith

Bryan put forward an interesting argument that errors in the application of learning occur when learners feel overconfident about their ability to apply learning correctly. Moreover, he said that most people are not aware of their overconfidence so we should utilise three tactics to counterbalance overconfidence.

Use Scenarios Create scenarios using the SEDA model: Situation, Evaluation, Decision, Action.

Create Assessments Use three types according to your requirements:

  • Multiple-choice questions: Use this before you teach a skill to benchmark ability
  • Essay questions: Use this to make sure that people can explain in their own words what they have learned
  • Scenarios: Use a branching structure to get people to make smart choices

Provide Feedback Immediate feedback is important / add thinking points to feedback for questions that are incorrect.

A deeper description of each tactic can be found in Bryan’s slides here

3. The white whale: Learning analytics that mean something with Michael Whatley

Michael presented a great analysis of how to go from the basics of assessing learning using smile sheets to calculating ROI. I thought it was a great session for anyone getting into data analytics. He explained it as a process that can be used by anyone, even if they don’t have an analytics background.

These are the highlights of what Michael recommends to gather data and turn it into meaningful outputs using ROI

  • Leverage research by Jack and Patti Philips to guide data modelling
  • Use the Kirkpatrick’s model to decide which data to collect
  • Use the ROI institute V model for writing objectives
  • Use a scenario, assessment, feedback structure
  • Monitor for change (when people don’t know they are being watched) for objectivity

For a more in-depth analysis of how to create learner analytics that matter check out Michael’s slides here

4. L&D Lessons from Behavioural Economics: The Art of Nudging with Arun Pradhan

Arun is by his own description an extremely curious, empathetic and geeky human. He’s also very knowledgable about behavioural economics. The basic premise of that as it applies to learning can be described as:

Wrong assumptions: Training leads to learning which leads to behaviour change and finally to business impact.

Rational decision-making: Most people believe they are rational and that other people are largely irrational. This assumption is wrong because most of the time we are on autopilot. This compares fast thinking to slow thinking:

Fast thinking: automatic pilot – common, easy and automatic, emotional, error prone / Slow thinking: takes time – rare, hard and deliberate, rational, reliable. 

In learning most people think that learners are operating in slow thinking mode. We typically think that learners will pay attention, remember, understand, change behaviour, apply learning etc. But, in reality learners apply ‘quick thinking’ and act irrationally, use least amount of effort, use mental shortcuts and operate on autopilot.

To overcome these issues Arun suggested we don’t fight the autopilot and instead focus on change the route using the EAST model:

How to get people to make the choices you want them to: Make it EASY; Make it ATTRACTIVE; make it SOCIAL; make it TIMELY

There is a lot we can learn from nudge methods, most of which can be found on Arun’s website but for more information about how to use the EAST model have a look at this download.

5. Text message learning: Research, use cases, and best practices with Michael Loffe

Finally, Michael introduced the concept of designing learning that is used only on a mobile phone. There are no external links but the slides were pretty informative. Here are the main points.

Text message learning has a very high completion rate compared to other forms of media.
Text message learning is great for simple behaviour change and knowledge retention.
You can be quite varied in your approach and use pictures, text, quizzes and feedback.

Here are 6 tips that Michael recommends we follow if we want to make great text message learning.

  • Tip 1: Know your objectives for each step of training
  • Tip 2: Outline each course – basically like menu of training items  
  • Tip 3: Brevity matters for writing
  • Tip 4: Custom responses are best – make responses sound familiar
  • Tip 5: Images and GIFs are good learning tools
  • Tip 6: Tone matters – negative feedback should be positively framed

That’s it from the first few days of DevLearn. Look out for the next instalment at the weekend and have a great week.

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