Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Microblogging the Chicago E-Learning and Technology Showcase

I had a great time yesterday learning about e-learning and m-learning at the Chicago E-Learning and Technology Showcase. It was fascinating being around people who work in the same field.

I again rekindled my love affair of using Twitter practically, usefully, and interactively by live tweeting my sessions. All the tweets from the conference can be found below.

I found it very interesting that at an e-learning and tech showcase that:
1. All the sessions were live, classroom style rather than interactive, showcasing the tools we use to deliver content. There was one hands on lab,  but that was it!
2. There was barely anyone tweeting, which, for a tech event, seems very unusual. When I went to the national ASTD conference, for example, there were streams and streams of tweets in order to catch all of the content that was going on at any given time.
3. There were SO many paper handouts! And they ran out of them! Which is just silly. We're at a conference about digital learning - all the presentations should have been made available for all participants at the conference on the portal immediately, facilitating different kinds of interaction with the content.

Twitter can be so useful to use for real things other than the usual "What I ate for breakfast" tweets. I don't use my Twitter that way - sometimes all that goes to it is my horoscope because I don't feel that I need to bother people with things that are useless information. When I have something to say, I say it, and I love to interact with people about it. Its less about Twitter as the reporting place and more about the interaction Twitter facilitates for me. I was talking to some people at the conference yesterday and mentioned that live tweeting, in particular, is a way to force myself to pay attention and engage with the content in a different way, even if I want to scream about the poor presentation style or lack of adult learning principles being used or simply poor planning.

I'm really excited about the possibilities of mLearning in particular as I think its the direction that people are going to go. What worries me is the potential of downgrading our attention spans further. In the presentation I was in, it was mentioned that mLearning for phones should be no longer than 3 minutes, for tables 15 minutes, and for PCs no more than 45 minutes. That's totally accurate, in my opinion. People go crazy now over a 45 minute survey where in the past an hour or more of writing would not be unusual in a major survey. I can only imagine when education is broken into 3 minute chunks how people's attention spans are going to move shorter and shorter until the point that we can't even sit still for a 1 hour classroom experience. But at the same time, being able to reach someone at the exact time and situation in which they need their education brings to mind dazzling possibilities of effectiveness and efficiency in education that aren't currently possible with the 1 hour classroom block (of which 90% of learning will be lost within 90 days).

So all in all, a mix of experiences at this conference that were interesting and thought provoking on my way home last night. Would I go back next year? Possibly. I'm thinking we need to show off what we are doing for work here, because I think my coworkers are doing amazing things with limited resources in a blended model of live, live remote, eLearning, mLearning, and textual learning education. 

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