TechLearn 2003 photos and finale


Soundbites from breakout sessions

Diane Hessan, Communispace: Don't ask what you can teach your customers; ask what you can learn from your customers.

Nancy DeViney, IBM. Learning has become mission critical. Learning must support overarching business goals. Learning is part of the overall package IBM offers. Strategy of future of learning at IBM: Customers demanding real-time, global, customer-focused situation.

Frank Anderson, DAU. Learning culture, imbedded, at point of use. Everything is changing these days. The issue is whether you're a facilitator of or an impediment to change.

Elliott Masie: Context management is going to be the largest major change to hit eLearning in the coming year.

On the state of the Learning Business

  • Learning tech is changing faster than its customers.
  • Must move from classroom to multiple channels. Nothing surprises me any more.
  • Business units are making more training decisions; training has sometimes been an impediment (says an audience poll).
  • Through 2007, 70% of the Federal workforce will become eligible for retirement.

Elliott says we've bought a lot of Learning Management Systems but haven't done that much Management of Learning.

Caveat: Get vendors to explain how people are going to become engaged. Diane has been building communities for five years. The first couple were a failure. It's not easy. If the vendor doesn't have a plan, get a new vendor.

Wayne Hodgins, on the future: Let's get small. Smallness is the way to get to uniqueness. Ultimate goal is personalized delivery to everyone on earth. 6.3 billion of us live on the planet, and we are more the same than we can to admit. It's possible to get "any" -- Any time, place, content -- but we haven't been able to spread it around. You want right time, right place, right content, not "any." Standardization leads to standardized uniqueness. Example -- Personalization by assembling many standard parts: Dell.

Phillip Dodds told me ADL CoLab's hidden secret is that they've achieved their mission. SCORM is nearly complete. The project is funded. Agencies are jumping on board.

Elliott stressed the importance of context, saying that if content is king, context is queen. His analogy is off. The age of kings is over; kings are mere figureheads. Also, kings can exist without queens, and vice-versa, but content cannot exist without context. In fact, content + context = learning. Jay's metaphor: Content is inside; context is outside; they are inseparable.

Consolidation continues. The acquisition of TEDS by Fidelity generated more intelligent discussion than the Click/Docent merger. And how about EMC buying Documentum?

Advanstar told me that LTI (neé eLearning) will stay in business but become a quarterly. Also, it will concentrate more on web content.

Elliott expects another merger before Christmas, and yet another by the end of the first quarter.

IBM unveiled its vision for the future of learning. (Press Release.) The gist is that push delivery is replacing pull delivery, in real time, as a component of work. IBM is more eloquent, saying, "Traditional learning tends to be a structured relationship between the instructor and the learner, with a prescribed curriculum. In the future, learners will be increasingly in charge of customizing their learning experiences. Advances in content and delivery technologies will enable learners to access relevant, compelling content and information from a variety of sources, offered on demand and whenever the learner needs or wants it."

I love this part: "IBM believes learning and work will be indistinguishable over time."

Nancy DeViney, general manager of IBM Learning Solutions, said "Learning in an on demand environment will be embedded into real-time work flows, enabling the productivity of individual employees and aligning employees and teams across a company's value chain for action on key business priorities." Wow. That's precisely the future Sam Adkins and I envision. It's reassuring to be in such august company.

Chris von Koschembahr, Big Blue's M-Learning exec, showed me a truly nifty mini-tablet PC. Compact enough to fit the hand -- or to prop up on the counter in a retail application. Wi-fi. Sleek. If IBM needs any product testers, I would love to get my hands on one of these beauties.



Tuesday night the entire conference moved to DinoLand. Unlike TechLearns past, where party food was "one ice-cream pop," Advanstar treated us to an all-you-can-eat buffet of grilled chicken, pulled pork, pad Thai, huge turkey drumsticks, and more. Fueled by an open bar, some daring souls boarded a rollercoaster. Most of us played whack-a-mole and other carnival games, winning plush dinosaurs and turtles.

Scooter, our DJ from years past, got nearly everyone dancing to often silly music.

Phase Change

1998 2003


It's the end of an era. The early TechLearn Conferences were like Woodstock , gatherings of true believers with smiles on their faces because they had seen the future. Training, coupled with the web, would save the world. We were filled with pronoia -- the delusion that the world was conspiring to help us.

Five years later, adios, Orlando . TechLearn feels more like the Bank Administration Institute's Retail Delivery Conference. Well, sort of. They don't have an enthusiastic, perceptive, big-hearted, and entertaining host like Elliott Masie. Conclusions from this year's event:

  • Corporate conversation assumes eLearning is there.
  • Learning can differentiate a business.
  • Readiness and response time are critical.
  • SCORM has by and large completed its mission.
  • Learning must support strategy.
  • Demand pull is replacing supply push.
  • The learner is central.

The best advice of the Conference came from DAU's Frank Anderson: "If you are riding a dead horse, dismount."

This is a work in progress. The continuation has photos of the event. If you don't have broadband and want to see them, click Continue reading... and go have a couple of cups of coffee while you wait.

Introduction by P.Point

Elliott arriving for Sunday Keynote on his Segway

with IBM's Nancy DeViney

Eileen Clegg recording the event in real time

DAU's Frank Anderson tries out the Segway

Pete Weaver. Working? No, listening to the ball game.

Time moves on. Last year Lance and I were signing books in this room.

Lance Dublin: "What part of everything don't you understand?"

Interwise pals

Two dozen simultaneous 20-minute sessions.
There's Unilever's Ron Edwards to the left.

DinoPark Party

Bully for brontosaurus

She won the watergun competition.

Nicole wins a stuffed animal for the little one.
I won two plush turtles which I gave to friends with kids.

Mark Oehlert and I doing the dueling cameras thing.

Self portrait

Seriously into Whack-a-Mole

I think some of these guys have been practicing all year for this.

Getting carried away with Scooter's music


The TechLearn kick-line getting ready for Radio City Music Hall next year:
Lance Dublin, Beth Thomas, Elliott Masie, Diane Hessan, and Nick Noyes.


And in conclusion

I am embarrassed to offer such fuzzy photos this year.
Wrong settings toward the end of the editing process.
I was going to delete this photo of Wayne Hodgins,
but then I thought to myself, Hold it! Wayne is fuzzy in person. What a likeness! :- )

Adios, Hotel Coronado.

And you thought I wouldn't post this didn't you?

Posted by Jay Cross at November 6, 2003 12:19 PM | TrackBack

Thanks for continuing to do your reviews of TechLearn Jay, they are such a valuable resource. I really mean that.

Curious about your reaction to the downgrading of full free video and audio archives of TechLearn proceedings to the run-of-the-mill PowerPoint slides only? While the slides are great to have, this is a huge disappontment. Can't say I'm surprised, but slightly crushed anyways.


Posted by: Roberta Westwood at November 14, 2003 01:42 AM

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