All of this happened at The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2016 Conference & Expo and Ecosystem 2016:

We spent the week “Sharing What Works”

The eLearning Guild’s spring conference took place in Orlando, March 16 – 18, with pre-conference sessions meeting March 14 – 15. The event, which grew out of the Guild’s original Annual Gathering, has had significant growth every year—this year it grew by 8 percent over 2015.

Here are some of the highlights.

Bill Nye: Fostering Constant Paths of Curiosity

Bill took more than 1,600 attendees on a journey through his fascination with science and learning; it actually began before he was born with his father’s internment as a POW for 44 months in World War II, which led to father-and-son projects that revolved around sun dials. (You can follow along with the presentation in Figure 1, a sketchnote of the session provided by artist, graphic recorder, and visual notetaker Kelly Kingman.)

Figure 1: Here is Bill Nye’s keynote as a sketchnote. If you missed it: Dude!

Learning starts with observation—and one test is worth a thousand expert opinions. The Ford Pinto exemplifies the irony of the upside-down pyramid of design: Every step in the production of a new product adds to the cost, but if the design is bad, even on your best day, when you're done you’ve still produced only a Ford Pinto. Keep things simple and things work out: All 100 shows in the Bill Nye the Science Guy program came from reducing the entire focus to just three categories of science and two instances of each of the three.

David Kwong: Think Inside the Box: Creativity Within Constraints

On Thursday, within a string of amazing magic tricks, mentalist work, and interactively building a crossword puzzle with the audience (including a totally amazing and mystifying finish), David demonstrated how magicians set something up ahead of time and subtly influence their audience toward it (Figure 2). It was a great example for instructional designers, showing us how to produce the unexpected while keeping people 100 percent engaged in the process.

Figure 2: David Kwong and the sketchnote of his presentation. Pure magic.

Annie Murphy Paul: Learning Beyond the Myths

Annie, a journalist, author, and Time magazine columnist, closed the event on Friday with an outstanding session built around common myths about learning (Figure 3). Beginning with three simplistic myths—learning styles, digital natives, and brain training—she proceeded to more sophisticated (but also wrong) myths such as the need to make learning enjoyable and the value of expert teaching. Annie offered evidence-based statements to replace each mistaken notion. She ended the keynote with an extended question-and-answer session during which participants brought up their own favorite myths for discussion.

Figure 3: Annie Murphy Paul, mythbuster


The eLearning Guild added two new Guild Masters and presented awards to the winners of Thursday night’s DemoFest.

Guild Master: Jean Marrapodi

Jean Marrapodi has been a valuable contributor to, and supporter of, The eLearning Guild from the very beginning. A passionate educator and lifelong learner with more than 15 years in corporate training in banking, retail, printing, nonprofits, and health care, Jean understands trends and needs in a variety of industries. Trained as a teacher, she has taught preschool, special, elementary and adult education classes and spent five years in higher education, where she led her eLearning team to three national awards in 2014. Jean is a CPLP, ATD’s highest credential, and holds a PhD in adult education, along with a master’s degree in online instructional design. She brings all of this to the conference sessions that she leads for the Guild, and for all of these reasons, we name her our newest Guild Master.

Figure 4: Jean Marrapodi

Guild Master: Jay Cross

Up until the day of his untimely passing, Jay Cross contributed much to the entire eLearning community with his writing and speaking on real and informal learning. Jay had a natural curiosity and wanted to explore what people were doing and thinking, and the learning value that came out of it. He was a tireless networker and champion of “bottom-up” learning. He has been (and in many ways continues to be) a driving force for the emergence of informal learning as a valid area of interest in our field. Jay’s writings have led many to explore learning more deeply. It is fitting that we honor his memory, his work, and his contributions by naming him a Guild Master. Clark Quinn, Jay’s friend and colleague, accepted the award on behalf of Jay’s family.

Figure 5: Jay Cross

DemoFest Awards

DemoFest, the event at every eLearning Guild conference where practitioners are able to show their best work during an evening of networking and camaraderie, always ends with awards that are decided through votes by attendees. This year, 50 projects in 11 categories qualified for exhibition (Figure 6), and the room was packed with observers for two hours.

Figure 6: At DemoFest, developers (in the stylish green shirts for St. Patrick’s Day) showed their best work at 50 tables

Here are the categories, the winners in each, and the two projects voted Best of Show:

Best Academic Solution: “The Norwegian Virtual School” by Morten Oddvik and Kjetil Idas, Vestfold County Municipality

Best Alternative Solution: “Bloomingdale’s: Microlearning for Safety and Sales” by Chad McIntosh, Bloomingdale’s, and Laura Martin, Axonify

Best Blended Learning Solution: “Bridgestone Education Network” by Shauna Vaughan, SweetRush

Best Business Process Solution: “Dealing with Angry Customers: A Branching Scenario” by Tim Slade, Artisan E-Learning

Best Game-Based Solution: “Missouri River Basin Balancer Game” by William Brown and Jeanette Stanley, SAIC

Best Immersive/Simulation Solution: “Henkel OSI Window Installation Game” by Dan Keckan, Cinecraft Productions

Best Mobile Solution: “American Greetings AG2GO Mobile Training” by Marie Wood and Josh Kester, American Greetings

Best Onboarding/Orientation Solution: “The Orientation Game” by Anne Paine, Apex Performance Solutions

Best Performance Support Solution: “Stories and Compliance” by Rance Greene, MCSC

Best Sales Training Solution: “Lead Generation Through Blended Learning” by Pooja Jaisingh, Adobe Systems, and Andrew Scivally, eLearning Brothers

Best Soft Skills Solution: “My Plan: Mission Transition Support” by Mikaylie Kartchner and Jeff Batt, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Best of Show Vendor: “PayPal New Employee Welcome Suite” by Richard Vass, eLearning Brothers

Best of Show Non-vendor: “Nielsen’s myLearning Portal” by Tricia Ward, Nielsen, and Nick Floro, Sealworks Interactive

And there was more!

In addition to what has already been described in this article, the conference program provided participants with over 225 more learning opportunities: concurrent sessions, learning stages, Morning Buzz discussions, and other events.

The Expo featured 66 exhibitors from every segment of the eLearning world.

Figure 7: The Expo provides the opportunity for in-depth conversation with providers of the tools and services you need for your work

The xAPI Camp was a one-day pre-conference experience at Learning Solutions that showcased what’s possible with the xAPI. Over two dozen participants experienced a day filled with case studies, problem solving, and networking, and connected to answers they could act on. This is a community that helps its members make an impact. There will be a separate report in Learning Solutions Magazine soon on this event.

Figure 8: The xAPI Camp

Learning Solutions 2016 Conference & Expo and Ecosystem 2016, like The eLearning Guild’s other events—FocusOn Learning and DevLearn—is where you will find the widest array of topics and the most knowledgeable speakers in the eLearning field. These high-energy programs feature multiple networking opportunities within the daily schedule, support for participants who are new to the industry through the docent program, and presentation notes delivered through the conference app. With generous discounts for Guild members, you get the best value for your registration fee of any professional community of practice in the world. Join us in Austin, Texas this June for FocusOn Learning 2016!