Learning Dev Camp Day 1 Takeaways

**The night before**
Quick shoutout to Debbie Richards for the AWESOME dinner recommendation.  Anna Leach , Erika Nelsen and myself went to dinner at Ruth’s Diner. Their patio area was lush and cozy and as the sun started to go down, the temperature was perfect for an outdoor meal.

Ruth's Diner

Day 1:

Let me first say that the reason I chose this conference is because I’m sick of being talked at. If I want to hear theory, I can go to class.  I come to conferences to BUILD. BUILD networks, BUILD confidence, and BUILD stuff!  Looking at the caliber of speakers and knowing their niches, it was a no brainer to choose this as my annual professional development conference.   That being said, this is my first time here so I didn’t know what to expect.


If you want to get lost in the crowd, this might not be the conference for you.  So far I have met some really awesome people from all across the US here for a common goal: to share and learn more about learning and development.  Today was affectionately called a “ramp up” day with a morning session, keynote, and afternoon session.

Morning Session: Megan Torrance Agile Project Management

I chose this session because project management is a valued skill at my organization. Our director has a PMP, my supervisor has her CAPM and I have jokes and ideas.  I should take PM more seriously and it’s something that will be a win/win if I can develop better skills.  Megan is an excellent presenter and someone I was excited to finally meet face to face.  She led in asking this question….


The reason this is an important point is that in the software world, it’s not multiple projects it’s usually one project at a time.  Megan then made the comparison of instructional design to the software industry.  She felt elearning is kind of software like, lots of testing and mucking around.  Some respects projects are like software but not really.  It is in this vein that she introduced LLAMA:


From Megan’s website, snipped without permission but here is the link

One way Megan illustrated this point is by asking us in the session what we want to get out of it, what are some concerns about project management.  Instead of going linear through her slidedeck, she skipped around to address the needs.  A point she illustrated beautifully is when kicking off a project, define the scope around 80%.  Why?  Because when you kick off a project you don’t know everything that you are going to do and you should assume the scope will change.

An easy way to derail a project?  By feeding the squirrels!


Squirrels come from your PMs, sponsors, SMEs…pretty much anyone that flies in wanting to add stuff here, cut things there.  Stay true to the project.  Know your learner, know what you want them to be able to do at the end of the training.  As Sam Rogers and Star Wars would say, stay on target.  Don’t overdo it though. Design documents do not maximize customer value.  Our customers are both internal and external. Don’t forget the learner!

Another takeaway I had from Megan’s session was the need for learner personas.  This was a timely subject because it’s something that my podcasting buddy Joseph Suarez is interested in with his team.  Megan shared that she always builds learner personas for any project.  She shared the analogy of a wedding planner.  Who is the most important person to keep happy at the wedding?  Several of us answered the bride, some answered the father of the bride, maybe even the mother of the groom.  The bottom line is it could be any of them.  But you can’t make everyone happy a wedding.  So who is the primary learner?  Megan says the team assembled for a kickoff session should  brainstorm out anywhere between 2-5 learning personas for a project.  Then let them cuss and discuss which one is the primary.  Based on the primary, then you can build a more targeted scope with better learning objectives.

Keynote: Katie Stroud, How to Change the World

I was SO excited to hear Katie’s keynote. I have gotten to know Katie better through the TLDC. So of course when we finally met face to face we had to get a picture 🙂


There were so many things I loved about Katie’s keynote!

  1. The first one was her authenticity and vulnerability.  I’m sorry but I think a lot of times in learning and development, we forget that our products are for adult learners.  As Katie put it so brilliantly, life is hard. She shared her curvy path from her childhood through college on how she got to where she was.  As someone who is a first generation college graduate, her story really resonated with me.  I may have had a tear or two in my eye.  I applaud her efforts and I’m proud to say I know someone with that kind of grit.  You go Katie!
  2. The second was the nod to Toastmasters.  I joined Toastmasters earlier this year and I proudly share and probably gush about how big of a difference it has made on my public speaking.  It’s also been tremendous to improve my impromptu speaking.  Katie had an activity where she put various items on each table and challenged each table to tell a story about it.  There were some interesting items, including a bunch of bananas salt shaker.  It was fun to hear what other tables came up with and it tied in with her theme of storytelling in her presentation.
  3. She did an excellent job integrating storytelling- emotional and physical responses (those mirror neurons in action).  She kicked it off with a personal story about her journey, she shared the adventures of her and Rev, and she asked others to share their experiences.

All of the other keynotes have big shoes to fill in order to be that meaningful.

Afternoon Session: Learning Technologies: From Now to Next Sam Rogers

Sam is another person I know from TLDC but I also met when he came to Columbus’ Central Ohio ATD Learning Tech Day and was a presenter. Oh yeah, we also did an episode of the podcast 5 Trainers in a Car together too 🙂  One thing I appreciate about Sam is his no nonsense way of presenting.  He kicked off the session wanting to know about what each person is working on.  We went around and shared and I was impressed by his active listening skills.  He remembered what everyone said and constantly referenced it throughout the presentation.  In detail.  So Joseph Suarez, maybe Sam can help you build up that skill 🙂

Sam is also great for giving meaningful one liners that this Tweeter loves 🙂

Another key takeaway from this session was this graphic he provided:

sam's session

How many times does your instructional design team “sweat the small stuff” without focusing on the big picture?  Something like this should be printed on a tshirt and given to all instructional designers and also this shirt Megan shared for Project managers.

Dream Crusher

After the afternoon session, it was prize giveaway time.  Yes, my dreams were crushed, I didn’t win anything but I did have the cutest little parfait thingy ever!


Dinner: Red Iguana 2

This place was so good they needed two of them in Salt Lake City! The dinner crew included (in no particular order) Candace Kinzer, Jeff Batt, Katie Stroud, Sam Rogers, Erika Nelsen, Brent Schenkler, Lisa Robbins, Anna Leach, and me 🙂 The food was great, the conversation was even better, and this picture the best


All in all, Day 1 was a HUGE success.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow, the first day of BUILDING! There are some Storyline and Camtasia sessions in the horizon and I’m really excited for them!

I will continue to live tweet what I can during the conference using #learningdevcamp but so far it doesn’t seem like this is a crowd that are heavy Tweeters.  I’m happy to provide content but the backchannel would be so much more robust if all sessions were shared.

If you aren’t at this conference and are reading this, consider checking out TLDC. It’s a weekday live show about learning and development.  Being a part of this community has really help grow my PLN and I can’t recommend it enough!



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