The eLearning Guild presented its first Executive Forum for senior learning and development leaders October 24, 2017, at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. The event preceded DevLearn Conference & Expo, the Guild’s premier annual event focused on learning technologies.

Forty-two executives representing a wide array of verticals attended educational sessions and networked at the full-day event. The program focused on corporate digital learning, an emerging topic garnering attention among L&D executives. The program included stimulating presentations from industry experts, case studies, and plenty of opportunity for informal discussion.

David Kelly, executive vice president and executive director of The eLearning Guild, kicked off the Executive Forum. He spoke about how new technology has radically transformed human behavior, which in turn is impacting the way employees learn. To illustrate his point, he asked attendees what typically happens when a group of diners are trying to recall a particular fact.

“Someone will Google it,” they chorused. That is digital learning in action. As Kelly added, “No one says, ‘Hold on a minute, I’m going to log on to the LMS to find the answer.’”

Kelly emphasized that although employees today can solve many problems on their own, “our L&D practices haven’t caught up with that yet.” He predicts that the rise of digital learning will cause L&D to pivot from a training and education focus to supporting learning in its natural form.

Anders Gronstedt, president of the Gronstedt Group, illuminated technologies shaping this new reality. His company leverages innovative solutions such as next-generation digital simulations, learning games, transmedia storytelling, virtual reality, and augmented reality. While demonstrating some of the technology, Gronstedt remarked that immersive experiences are vital for engaging a modern workforce. According to Gronstedt, “The average 21-year-old has spent more time playing video games than in school.”

Frank Nguyen, chief talent development officer at Advisor Group, has directed enterprise learning at numerous high-profile companies including American Express, Intel, and Sears Holdings Corporation. Nguyen, a Guild Master, specializes in transforming learning organizations by building learning strategies around business strategies. He discussed how technology is driving digital learning and shared practical suggestions of how learning leaders can architect a modern learning ecosystem using a variety of tools, including gamification.

After a gourmet lunch, Aaron Silvers, manager of analytics at Elsevier, made his presentation. Silvers is an industry veteran who years ago helped develop the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and more recently guided xAPI to 1.0 release. A respected consultant, designer, and strategist, Silvers discussed data and analytics in relation to digital learning.

The Executive Forum program concluded with two case studies. Matt Peters, director of the Tech College within Visa University, demonstrated how his organization is using a content aggregator to create an integrated learning experience. Then Kenneth Hubbell, senior manager of instructional design at Wells Fargo, discussed how Wells Fargo is successfully incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into its learning architecture.

Kenneth Hubbell of Wells Fargo presents at The eLearning Guild’s Executive Forum.

Figure 1: Kenneth Hubbell of Wells Fargo presents at The eLearning Guild’s Executive Forum

Feedback from Executive Forum attendees

The diverse group of senior learning leaders attending The eLearning Guild’s Executive Forum came from all around the United States, as well as Dubai, New Zealand, and Canada, seeking practical takeaways and solutions to their business challenges.

“At IBM we’re in the midst of a major digital transformation in our learning area, and I was very interested to meet and hear from other executives on their challenges, solutions, and best practices as they take the same journey,” said senior program manager and content strategist Meg Petersen. She found the educational sessions valuable and developed important connections that she hopes to sustain via a private LinkedIn group formed after the event.

Throughout the conference, Executive Forum attendees had exclusive use of a special lounge. “Having the lounge really added to the experience, giving us the opportunity to solidify relationships, get more input on our own challenges, and learn from others,” Petersen added.

Chip Reaves is president of, a training partner that creates eLearning courses and content. The Executive Forum exceeded his expectations. According to Reaves, the best part was the discussions about industry trends, most notably learning outside the LMS, and the rise of xAPI as a related standard. “It helped me to understand how our company and our team can better support our eLearning clients,” he said.

Reaves got real value from the experience. “The ‘secret lunches’ alone were worth the cost of the Forum; the insight into other businesses and new solutions was priceless,” he said.

Elise Dunn, a training and development professional at Goldman Sachs in Jersey City, New Jersey, also praised the Executive Forum. She felt it was a productive investment: thoughtful, insightful, and innovative. “This Forum really capped off my entire DevLearn experience,” she wrote in an evaluation.

Click here to view a video about the DevLearn Executive Forum.

Join us at our next Executive Forum

The next eLearning Guild Executive Forum will take place March 26, 2018, prior to Learning Solutions 2018 Conference & Expo, March 27 – 29. The topic for this Executive Forum is “Learning & Performance Ecosystems.” Participants will collaborate with colleagues to explore strategies, methodologies, and technologies that are transforming organizations today. All senior learning and development leaders are invited to attend.