#DevLearn Reflections: A Process, Not an Event by Brian Washburn

Picture1Today we welcome Brian Washburn, Global Learning & Development Manager with SightLife (the world’s largest eye bank) as he shares his thoughts about last week’s DevLearn Conference and Expo.

A Process, Not an Event

One of my biggest take-aways from DevLearn 2014 can be summed up with this multiple choice question (based on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s General Session): Which is the correct way to spell “cat”?

a)      c-a-t
b)      k-a-t
c)       x-y-z

While choices “b” and “c” are incorrect, is one more incorrect than the other?

Simply asking these questions, six days after listening to Dr. Tyson speak, can help defeat the dreaded Forgetting Curve, a research-based phenomenon that insists by now we’ll have forgotten 90% of what we learned during DevLearn.

Herein lies the biggest ah-ha for me, something I took away from Art Kohn’s Building Online Training to Promote Learning Transfer and Behavior Change session: using episodic “learning boosts” (like a few multiple choice questions) to follow-up a learning intervention can help increase retention.

For years I’ve been pushing my colleagues to ensure each of our learning interventions becomes a process, not an event. I’ve been pushing my colleagues in the field to follow-up the learning we do in the classroom with one-on-one coaching and regular check-ins. These strategies are labor-intensive and seen by many as “nice-to-have” but can be bumped if something more urgent comes up.

The idea of leveraging technology to provide learning boosts and increase retention will be something I delve much further into with my team. Following Art Kohn’s session, I bought Peter C. Brown’s Make It Stick in order to take a deeper look at the brain science behind how we learn.

As I reflect more on my experience at DevLearn 2014, I think the eLearning Guild is also committed to this idea of transforming their learning event into a process.

DevLearn’s “Hedgehog”

In Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote at length about the “hedgehog concept” – the confluence of three factors: what you’re deeply passionate about, what you’re the best in the world at and what drives your economic engine. I think it can be argued that the eLearning Guild’s hedgehog – what the Guild does better than any other organization – is its ability to transform a major conference into an ongoing learning process.

Deep Passion

The eLearning Guild exists in order to create a place where eLearning professionals can share their knowledge, expertise, and ideas to build a better industry – and better learning experiences – for everyone. These aren’t just words. At DevLearn, the Guild created a place… and the attendees seemed to do the rest – from the “What I Love About DevLearn” blog posts prior to the conference, the volume of posts on the DevLearn app’s activity feed, the range of sessions, activities and networking opportunities, DemoFest and right on through to the post-DevLearn #GuildChat.

Best in the World

I’ve attended and presented at a number of conferences across the learning and professional development field – ATD, SHRM, Association for Experiential Education – and I’ve never seen such an effective combination of opportunities for anyone and everyone to make a contribution to the conference.

During Thursday’s Chat2Lrn “Morning Buzz” session I had an opportunity to meet a slew of people who I had previously only known by their Twitter handles. In the exhibit hall, I met the geniuses behind the Articulate Online Community. I had a chance to sit down with LinkedIn connections in The Hub. The DevLearn app helped me keep up with sessions I didn’t have an opportunity to attend.

Economic Driver

The eLearning Guild may not operate to lose money, but it’s not driven by profits. In the social sector, the final piece to the Hedgehog Concept is the social return on investment. While I’ve only been back in the office for two business days following the conference, I’ve never seen a community of conference attendees so enthusiastic to carry their new learnings forward. I get the impression that this was not just an event to many of the attendees… it’s a cause.

In Sum…

Was every session perfect? No. Will DevLearn impact the way our organization leverages learning technologies to eliminate corneal blindness as we go forward? Yes.

I’m looking forward to continuing to engage with the eLearning Guild community and to continue to make sure I do something with what I’ve taken away from DevLearn. Here’s to a great event process…

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