Opening Address at DevLearn

For all those who are interested, here is what I said at the opening general session at DevLearn. Glad the ‘Challenge Speakers’ caught on. At a recent conference, a fellow attendee referred to me as unprofessional and insulting when I challenged a speaker. I also linked to a Lorne Carpenter video that explains the ‘collective intelligence experiments’


Thank you very much for making the effort to come to what I think of as the most progressive exciting conference in the online learning industry, DevLearn. I’ve been asked by the eLearning Guild to talk with you a bit about this year’s conference theme ‘ Shaping Whats Next’ and what it means.

I’m a long standing verteran of this conference. Been coming to this dance since 2004 or something equally impressive.  My first DevLearn conference was significant since I had a budding startup and coming to a show, with a booth and selling my wares at a conference like DevLearn was a huge milestone. It was exhilarating although I didn’t realize the burden of being eye candy. Since that first show I’ve participated in DevLearn as a vendor, speaker and was part of a program committee. By the way, my first conference I probably looked something like this: (show picture)

DevLearn always has a great mix of the current, the slightly ahead of the curve and some far out stuff that blow our minds and help us stretch ourselves. I’ve watched DevLearn grow from a niche conference to one that represents the spectrum of expertise in the online learning industry and in that time I’ve evolved, I’ve watched my colleagues evolve and I’ve watched the interests of our industry evolve.

When I signed up for program chair of DevLearn I felt the weight of continuing a tradition and the desire to leave a mark. There was no question that DevLearn had a secret sauce about it and I needed to make sure that this year included the sauce. My own desire for DevLearn was that it continued to be a progressive representation of our industry, AND that it became a catalyst for someone, a group, a company to innovate something new. I want DevLearn to help you not only plant a seed but nurture it to the point where one day that seed is on full display at DevLearn and is in fact a by product of having attended this show.

Have people heard of Lorne Carpenter and the collective intelligence experiments? He’s also the cofounder of Pixar and his wife heads up Cinematrix. The collective intelligence experiments demonstrated what happens when a group of people who don’t know each other come together in a place like this, have a common goal and purpose and develop whats refered to as a ‘hive’ mind. That is they develop a collective brain and sub-consciously work with one another to execute the task at hand. The bees do it, the birds do it and we do it.

This year’s tag line ‘Shaping Whats Next’ was not easily come by. We all bought into the idea that this year at DevLearn, more so than ever, we wanted to infuse the show with sessions and with opportunities that guided this collective mind to a new status quo of which we don’t necessarily know what it looks like but we do know what we want it to include. I’m not talking about some ethereal, philosophical concept here. We looked at future trends, we explored what was coming down the pipe in technology and we reached outside our own industry and pulled people in who can tell us whats happening in the outside world. This isn’t about portraying a future that isn’t attainable, this is about all of us together forming and shaping a future whose path we will determine together.

The great thing about this vision, like every path forward, it shapes our current beliefs and continues to morph and change what we want to see in the future. Now here’s the thing: all of this requires work. It requires us to challenge one another, to compromise, to compliment and to make sure that you are using the show as a catalyst and not simply a place where you come to listen. I encourage everyone to engage in discourse with the fantastic speakers we have here. That means not simply listening to them but also challenging them. Everyone here moves from teacher to student to philosopher to doer within seconds. Don’t be passive. Make this show your catalyst and the catalyst that changes this industry.

Lofty goals of course, which is why I will be playing with Lego.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a reply