Sharing SSSC digital learning at DevLearn 16

SSSC Learning and Development Manager (Digital Learning), Keith Quinn, recently shared our experience of developing digital learning resources at the international DevLearn conference. He tells us about the event.
Keith Quinn

Keith Quinn

DevLearn is always keen to develop opportunities for the wider digital learning design community to learn from each other and are particularly keen to provide opportunities for members to share case studies of their work and present new ideas to the audience. So, in my session on Immersive Learning Design, I was asked to showcase the work we have been doing on using simulations as a means of developing real-world skills.

Simulations, when done well, give people the opportunity to get things wrong and learn from that experience in a way that has little to no risk involved. They can also be deeply immersive, replicating the actual experience of doing something in a realistic and engaging way. Because of this, they can be incredibly effective tools for learning. But how do you create simulations on your own, particularly if you’re on a tight budget?

In my session, I explored both the learning theory and practical application that’s needed to start designing simulations that build workplace skills. I also looked at how to apply game design techniques to learning and discussed how they can contribute to users’ learning goals. I finished the session looking at ideas of where simulations may go in the future to increase their effectiveness.

Some thoughts on DevLearn16

DevLearn is an annual eLearning Guild’s event which attracted over 3,000 delegates and had 150 workshops/learning opportunities across 10 tracks ranging from data and measurement, through emerging tech, games and gamification, instructional design, mobile, video and media to management and strategy. There was something for everyone who has any interest in digital learning in any capacity.

The importance of storytellingDevlearn

The theme of the conference was Sparking Creativity and it would be fair to say that the event lived up to that. But for me, the major theme that emerged over the course of the three days was the importance of narrative: the importance of storytelling to the learning process.

From keynotes by Penn Jillette, who’s topic was ‘The Magic of Storytelling and Learning’ and Max Planck (founder of the Oculus Story Studio) who spoke about creating narratives for virtual reality experiences, through to various workshop sessions – storytelling as a key component of creating effective learning came up over and over again throughout the conference.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and 360o video

VR, AR and 360o video all featured highly on the DevLearn agenda. It’s clear they have created a great deal of ‘buzz’ in the digital learning community and there were a number of impressive demos and case studies on show. Nobody could deny the potential of these technologies to provide some very rich learning experiences. Indeed, we are scoping out a research and development project to establish the potential of VR to provide hard to access practice learning experiences for students. But, in terms of wider adoption of the technologies, my hesitation at moving beyond research and development and ‘proof-of-concept’ prototypes is, ‘Is the technology mature enough yet?’.

Trampled in the rush to the next big thing

It’s easy to be seduced by the lure of the new, but what if, in the rush to adopt the shiny new tools and technologies, we miss opportunities to create rich learning experiences with the tech that’s been around for a while; tech that’s had the chance to mature to the point where it almost becomes invisible? When learners are no longer focusing on how the tech works before engaging with the learning, won’t that make the learning more accessible and more engaging?

For me, it’s about striking a balance between old and new and continually reminding myself that we need to stay focused on putting the learning first, before we start looking at the tech.

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