Saturday, May 28, 2011

Top 3 things I learned at ASTD ICE 2011

This week I attended the ASTD International Conference & Expo in Orlando. My first ICE, and I experienced many great sessions and product demos. Here’s what’s stuck at top of my mind:

1. Daniel Bilton and Cary Harr from Booz Allen Hamilton compared and contrasted research on the effectiveness of e-learning techniques to a survey of opinions by practitioners. The research—on topics such as voice-over narration vs. text display, and visual vs. non-visual presentation of concepts—often contradicted the survey results. My main takeaways are that the research findings are often contradictory, and diving deeper into the studies suggests that the effectiveness of techniques may vary greatly by audience and the type of subject matter being taught. In other words, beware of blanket statements.

The opinion survey is still open and you can complete it here:

2. The Herrmann Brain-Dominance Instrument® presented by Ann Herrmann-Nehdi. While Ruth Clark’s latest book  debunks the concept of visual vs. auditory learning styles, Herrmann International has built a holistic system of learning styles based on neurological research. I don’t know enough to judge the validity of all the research, but I did find the system comprehensive and compelling. More importantly, it is designed to be useful to practitioners.

Copyright 2011 Herrmann International

The system postulates four learning "brain types," and shows mixtures of the types aligned to different occupations. It also provides learning strategies that work and don’t work well for each quadrant. Excellent material and a great presentation.

3, ZebraZapps from Allen Interactions. I heard about this tool after last year’s ICE conference, but had not yet seen it in action. It is a cloud-based, point-and-click application for designing and developing interactive Flash modules. Flash developers know that you can do just about anything in Flash, IF you can write ActionScript. The point of ZebraZapps is to make ActionScript interactivity functions available in a WYSIWIG interface. Extremely powerful and fun. And maybe a game changer for advanced e-learning authoring. I can’t wait to get my hands on the tool start playing.