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Informal Learning at ASTD TechKnowledge, Part 1 March 13, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Informal learning.
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techknowledge.jpg. Hard to believeASTD TechKnowledge was two weeks ago! And here I am still thinking about what I learned. In today’s post, I want to summarize some of the great informal learning experiences that I had.

Learning from Rob about creative services and genuineness:
When you spend a lot of time with someone, you tend to learn through osmosis. It’s an immersive learning experience that allows you to quickly absorb new perspectives. For example, I’ve absorbed and internalized more about good project management by working with good project managers than I ever could from a book.

Hanging out with Rob was a great learning experience in creative design and in interpersonal skills. When it comes to creative services, Rob’s done it all from graphics design and production to video and voiceovers. So, he’s got a lot of knowledge to share. But where I learned the most was in the genuine way Rob relates to other people. He has a positive and engaging personality and conveys genuine interest in helping others. Having witnessed Rob in action close-up, I now have a “genuine interest” state, which I can connect to when needed.

Noticing the age range of people attending the conference:
One afternoon as I waited outside the Expo, I noticed that the crowd was generally older–middle-aged or more. I looked for younger people, but they were few and far between. I’m not sure why that was. Are younger people not interested in training and development? Are organizations more likely to send more senior (and therefore older) people? I don’t have the answers, just the observations.

Learning about translation and localization services from Dan and Jessica of TransPerfect/Translations.com:
Before the conference, I’d exchanged e-mails with Jessica and found out that my company was talking with Dan at Transperfect about translation services. So, it was nice to meet them face-to-face and learn more about their services. They showed me that a partnership with them would result in more than just translation services. For one thing, they also provide “localization,” that is, guidance on what works and what doesn’t in various foreign countries. And, they could even bring us business with other multi-national companies.

Learning about a new way to distribute Flash-like content from Jared Vishney at our face-to-face session:
Jared introduced us to his company’s software, Flypaper, for creating, editing, and sharing Flash-quality content that can be used in presentations or distributed over the Web. I haven’t had a chance to try the software yet, but from Jared’s demo, it looked fairly easy to use. So, even someone without Flash experience can create engaging Flash-like content. But what’s really interesting about Flypaper is the business model. I describe it as a You-Tube or Flickr for Flash content. Flypaper plans to distribute their software for free. Then, people can create templates and post them to the Flypaper Web site to distribute to others.

Talking with Amrit about India at lunch: On Wednesday at lunch, Rob and I sat down with Amrit Garg of Upside Learning Solutions. Amrit had come all the way from India to attend the conference. It was interesting to talk with him about the incredible changes happening in India right now.

Talking with Anders Gronstedt of the Gronstedt Group about Second Life: I signed up for a face-to-face session with Anders Gronstedt of the Gronstedt Group because he was listed as a Second Life expert. Last year, I had been experimenting with Second Life, but then my system started crashing every time I went in world. When I searched through the help materials at Linden Labs, I discovered that I did not have a powerful enough graphics card. To me, this seemed like rather a huge hurdle for getting corporate America into Second Life. My computer is a fairly standard issue Dell. So, I assumed that if I was having problems, lots of other people were. Certainly, several other people in my company were also having problems. But Anders assured me that it was NOT a widespread problem, and that any computer less than 3 years old should be able to handle the Second Life graphics. Since that 20-minute conversation, Anders has provided me with lots of good information on both Second Life and podcasting. And it looks like he may be presenting on Training in Second Life to my company.

Learning about conference organization at dinner with Silke Fleischer and friends:
After attending the Develop Professional-Quality Simulations session with Silke Fleischer and Matt Hanzel, Rob had asked Silke to help him with an Adobe Captivate problem. Their mutual problem-solving session ended in an invitation to dinner for Rob, and by default, me. We met Silke and the others at The County Line for the biggest beef ribs I’ve ever seen. Since Silke’s friends included TechKnowledge organizers Frank Nguyen, Jim Javenkoski, and Bob Mosher, talk centered on what was going well and what wasn’t at the conference. Rob and I told them about the technical problems we’d had in our session, and they listened carefully. It was an interesting crew and interesting conversation. I caught a tiny glimpse into all the effort and thought that goes into pulling a conference like this together.

More to come…
As you can tell, there was LOTS of informal learning going on around the formal structure of the conference. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

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