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Thoughts on DevLearn 2015

Over 2,800 eLearning professionals attended DevLearn 2015 Conference and Expo, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from September 30th to October 2nd. The theme of DevLearn this year was Innovation in the Making, focusing on blended learning courses, hands-on tutorials, xAPI (Tin Can), and Hyperdrive. Dr. Aleckson and Dr. Hicken attended the event and spoke about Corporate MOOCs. After a successful conference, Jon and Andy shared their thoughts about their experience.

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Dr. Aleckson began by addressing the general exhibit hall. He said, “It was highly concentrated with course development companies, which is a new phenomenon compared to years ago when it was concentrated on LMS providers. ”

Dr. Hicken then contributed, “Content is king. The technical barrier to create quality courses has been lowered. Quality content has to be made by people who know instructional design, and there is a trend toward investment in high quality design. Companies apparently are shopping for content development assistants rather than buying large software systems.”

Jon believes that the dominant discussion of new products and systems was about xAPI (Tin Can) and digital badges. Andy said, “Tin Can and digital badges are, in a sense, competing standards. It is a bit of comparing apples to oranges, but both standards are about interoperability between separate systems for eLearning. Tin Can is more ambitious than badges with regard to what data is reported between the sites.”

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The Meet the Authors’ session after the conference provided Dr. Aleckson a chance to speak to other authors in the eLearning community. He said, “We were surprised that there was still a bookstore at a conference because of the amount of online ecommerce shopping available today. However, the bookstore gives the conference goers the chance to see a collection of specific books related to the event.”

Final thoughts

Dr. Hicken said, “DevLearn is billed as a developer conference, but it is as much an instructional design conference as a developers’ conference. Yes, there are developers and development-related sessions there, but there are at least as many instructional design sessions. The field of online learning does not drive enough development to merit a dedicated developer conference yet.”

Dr. Aleckson concluded by saying, “It is interesting that the eLearning Guild is a privately owned entity. It is a unique model in the sense that it is a privately owned nonprofit.”

Megan Torrance of TorranceLearning had a dominant presence as she presented at several sessions and also had a company booth in the exhibit hall. Dr. Aleckson attended one of her sessions where she presented on a Canadian hospital’s use of xAPI and their home grown Learning Records Store. Watch for the upcoming blog post on Dr. Aleckson’s interview with Megan. 

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