So last year the eLearning Guild decided that I was going to chair the 2013 DevLearn Conference and Expo. One of the discussion points I had with the Guild was that as an attendee who was more than up to date with the technology, the trends and the general discussion points of the industry, the eLearning Guild DevLearn experience offered alot in the way of networking opportunities but didn’t fully explore how to make the conference education portion of the show relevant and meaningful for me. Now bear in mind that the eLearning Guild is one of the most progressive organizations out there not only delivering cutting edge knowledge but testing and implementing new technologies all the time. However, the membership probably follows a normal distribution curve for how ‘cutting edge’ their own knowledge is and so to throw a conference the size of DevLearn you must consider that normal distribution curve and deliver sessions that are going to be relevant for people who are not outliers but within the part of the curve not including the standard deviations.
As a new chair to this conference, I proposed an idea about what the conference should accomplish for the members that fall within the ‘normal’ range. The idea was ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have somebody at the conference have the opportunity to develop an idea, and have that idea materialize as a product that one day was on exhibition at the show on the exhibitors floor. In other words, how do we ignite an innovative idea and provide a space for that idea to cultivate. Truth be told, at last year’s DevLearn I believe this was kinda what was going on with the ‘Junto‘. However, I wasn’t really interested in providing a space for discussion, I wanted to provide a space to build something. Ideas around hackathons were thrown about but the logistics seemed slightly out of scope.
This year at DevLearn, there will be LEGO robots! Enable Education has helped LEGO build out their curriculum for teachers, schools and other associations to run sessions for students on learning to build and program LEGO robots and they are coming to DevLearn to do the same for us. Why? Lets get serious for one second: the primary reason we’re bringing them is because I need to try this out! Truth. Secondly, everyone at the show will have a chance to ‘build’ something that they have probably never built before and will get a very tactile, very hands on, experience based opportunity to develop new skills. Jane Bozarth wrote a column for Learning Solutions magazine not too long ago about becoming a learner. Well this is an opportunity for us to become learners, to build something and to get an understanding of how ‘robotics’ can teach us a lot about design (a featured session on this is being done by me at DevLearn). Lastly, having a space for people to come and build robots, is also a space where those who are outliers, who are standard deviants from the curve have a place to go to to feed their brain when there aren’t any relevant sessions within a timeslot that they find. In fact its a space where great conversations can be had while building, where great networking opportunities may exist and where the start of friendly competition may blossom.
So game on DevLearn people! My robot will undoubtedly be the darling of the show. Care to take me up on that?