I attended the eLearning Guild’s Annual Gathering in Orlando last week, and I was very impressed with the generally optimistic atmosphere. Unlike other conferences I have attended this year, staff members freely acknowledged, albeit unofficially, that attendance may have decreased compared to years prior but not as much as feared. The collaborative and congenial atmosphere created by leaders Heidi Fisk and David Holcomb has propelled the eLearning Guild to the top of pack— association and conference wise. It helps that there is a “free” level of Guild membership. Secondly, the Guild’s singular focus on eLearning makes for strong workshops and sessions. Thirdly, since the group is privately owned, leadership and management are passionate about maintaining the mission and the vision. I hope this dedication can continue, but I am starting to sense a drift.

When I went to my first Annual Gathering several years ago, I was taken in with the grassroots commitment to eLearning practice and collaboration. The keynotes that year in Boston were given by eLearning pundits, and the vendors/exhibitors were placed casually in the hallway and in the back of the ballroom. I felt the spirit of a real “guild of practitioners” in the air.

I was a little disappointed this year with the keynote speakers, who seemed to have been hired to draw a crowd or promote their trendy book, but did not quite fulfill the task of integrating eLearning into their speech. Aren’t those the tactics that Training Magazine (and sometimes ASTD TechKnowledge) uses to up their conference enrollments? Our industry has an ample amount of inspirational authors and speakers to choose from. I have heard eLearning by Design author William Horton and others within our practice give very dynamic keynotes. You can probably tell that I felt keynote speaker Jeff Howe should have made his talk on Crowd Sourcing more relevant to the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering participants.

Please share some thoughts and examples in the workplace when companies have used “the power of the crowd” to enhance information sharing and learning.