ASTD ICE 2013 Report

The following are notes I took at this year’s ASTD ICE in Dallas, TX. Although they’re not exhaustive notes, my hope was to share at least one nugget from each session.

Mobile for Learning and Performance Support – Allison Rossett
Dr. Rossett focused on the two types of mobile performance support tools: planners and sidekicks.

A planner is a tool that one uses beforehand. For example, a person interested in adopting a dog might complete a short questionnaire that identifies a certain breed as a suitable match. That questionnaire is most useful before visiting the animal shelter, not during the visit. A sidekick is a tool that one uses while taking an action. Dr. Rossett’s example was Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance — Google was inundated with “How old is Madonna” search queries during the performance. Google acted as a sidekick during Americans’ Super Bowl parties.

Keynote – Sir Ken Robinson
I must admit that I’m leaning heavily on Cammy Bean’s live blog of Robinson’s talk here (it was very early in the morning). Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation focused on discovering one’s talent and following one’s passion. He identified two key principles to remember:

  1. You are one of a kind.
  2. You create your own life.

Bean summed it up nicely, “When ordinary people find their passion, extraordinary things happen.”

Tin Can Case Studies for a Brave New World – Megan Bowe
Megan gave an overview of the Tin Can API along with some helpful case studies. In particular, one case study caught my eye: the Michigan Health System. They’re using Tin Can to implement activities such as a QR code game (which will serve as a helpful example during my upcoming presentation), email and text messages that act as bite-sized learning, and learner-generated content via WordPress — all of which is tracked using the Tin Can API.

Talking to the Top Brass – Dianna Booher
I often find myself presenting crazy ideas to the top brass at various companies. Booher’s presentation was extremely helpful — in particular the 5 stumbling blocks we often encounter when presenting to executives:

  1. Performing monologues — Leave plenty of time for questions and conversation
  2. Losing control — Learn to facilitate strong personalities
  3. Giving information — Make recommendations, don’t give information
  4. Confusing professional with boring — Don’t be boring
  5. Acting defensively — Expect and welcome challenging questions

Innovative Thinking: Powerful Concepts and Hands-On Tools for Innovation – Etsuko Ogiso and Akira Furumoto
The speakers describe three techniques that lead to innovative thinking: divergent, convergent, and implementation. Divergent techniques generate large numbers of ideas, while convergent techniques screen and polish those ideas. Finally, implementation techniques are what you’d expect — ways to put those ideas into action.

Keynote – John Seely Brown
Brown focused mainly on the concept of entrepreneurial learners. These are learners who are predisposed to questing (working to solve problems and achieve goals), connecting, reflecting, and play. In short, these learners would say, “I am what I create, what I share, and what others build on.”

Leaving ADDIE for SAM – Michael Allen
As instructional designers, we should strive to design experiences that improve knowledge, ability, and performance. However, too often we only address knowledge with “tell and test” experiences that are soon forgotten. If we design active learning experiences along with distributed practice opportunities and powerful motivators, we can improve ability and performance as well. As the session title suggests, Allen spoke a great deal about SAM… but I’ll leave that summary to someone else.

Interactivity, Games, and Gamification: A Research-Based Approach to Engaging Learners Through Games – Karl Kapp
Much of the conference was spent discussing games and game-based learning. Enspire Learning and Enspire Studios were used as examples of serious game design in multiple sessions, including this one. My favorite line from this session was, “Bullets don’t kill people, bulleted lists kill people.” Kapp described three ways to increase intrinsic motivation: provide challenges, inject fantasy, and spark curiosity. As always, Kapp delivered a great presentation.