mLearnCon 2011: The espresso version

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The conference kicked off with the usual pre-conference breakfast conversations and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones…the conference family.

In my experience, the eLearning Guild conferences extend beyond the actual conferences themselves through social media. This learning-centric community could be called the “learning 2.0” layer of the conference and includes following blogs, tweets and of course, exchanging emails or phone conversations.

This year, there was quite a buzz on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the conference for those watching the #mlearncon hashtag. Based on the tweets, everyone was excited to start engaging in conversations about mobile and looking forward to year two of mLearnCon. I think this pre-conference Twitter activity was a sign that mLearnCon was going to be even bigger and better than last year.

During mLearnCon, year two, many were ready to compare our year of experiences, thoughts and sometimes failures with our peers. This is, for me, the underlying energy that breathes life into the conference.

Jeremiah Owyang presented the opening general session, entitled “A Strategy to Apply Mobile and Social to Learning.” It was a great kickoff. I liked how he used the bee analogy to illustrate how bees, specifically the scouts, go out into the wild to gather information and bring it back to the hive to share what they learn. Jeremiah carried out the bee analogy throughout his presentation drawing lines to organizational structure and learning. Jeremiah’s presentation has been made available to for us on his Slideshare site. I love the open-source philosophy!

The day really went by quickly, and I spent most of my day enjoying the discussions and healthy debate going on in the mLearning Future Zone and the MOSH Pit. Aaron Silvers and Neil Lasher did a fantastic job of putting these informal learning events together. Aaron and Neil not only came up with some great topics for these learning stages, but they also brought in some real thought leaders to facilitate the discussions.

Amber MacArthur’s presentation, Power Learning: Mobile and Social Media Trends, was a great high-level overview of what is happening in the world of mobile. She delivered a very engaging and fun presentation, and I’m pretty sure viewing the slides will be the same as seeing her speak in person. I really enjoyed Amber’s videos and references to current internet trends.


Interviews are my favorite part of conferences. A few years back at DevLearn, I started interviewing fellow speakers on video, instead of taking notes and presenting them in a PowerPoint. The videos were well received and led me to the idea of sharing via my blog. I have really enjoyed this unique opportunity to sit down and chat with some really amazing people. One time, my friend Lance Dublin told me after an interview that I was getting the espresso version of the conference. Being the Seattle coffee snob that I am, I decided to steal his description. So here it is: the espresso version of mLearnCon 2011.

Interview 1
Neil Lasher
The Learning Coach

Interview 2
Clark Quinn

Interview 3
Tanya Seidel of Trivantis

Interview 4
Gary Woodill
Emerging Technologies Analyst

The second year of mLearnCon turned out to be another fantastic conference hosted by our friends at the eLearning Guild. There were so many good sessions that it was common to hear in the hallways they people where not sure which one to attend. The good news is that no matter what one you chose, chances are you learned a lot. If you just could not decide which session to go to, you more than likely ended up at either the MOSH Pit or mLearning Future Zone.

Five major questions and final thoughts

Here are my bullets for the major points of discussions this year:

  • How do I get started?
  • Do I just convert my eLearning to mLearning
  • HTML5 vs Flash – what to choose?
  • What tools do I use?
  • Where is the “easy” button?

In the closing session, mLearning Insights: Challenges & Solutions, Paul Clothier moderated an enlightening idea-fest panel discussion with several “gurus” that led to some really great discussions based on questions from the audience. It was a great way to close the conference and include the attendees, giving them one final chance to get their burning questions answered by some really smart mLearning experts.

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings as attendees take their new knowledge back to their organizations and implement them. It will be fun to hear the success stories and lessons learned at mLearnCon 2012.


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Jeff Tillett

Jeff Tillett has been working with computers and Internet technologies for nearly twenty years starting as a Graphic Designer and Web Developer. A survivor of the Internet boom, Jeff assisted many startups to successfully build business and ecommerce ventures. His first involvement in instructional design was as a developer for a distance learning Internet start-up. There Jeff and his team crafted a custom LMS as well as all of the content that went in it. Discovering he had a passion and knack for learning design, Jeff has worked for a number of companies as an Interactive Learning Developer and Instructional Designer including T-Mobile USA and Microsoft. At T-Mobile, Jeff lead a group known as the Innovation Team that advocated and piloted emerging learning technologies for the organization. There he built expertise in mobile delivery and design and bring that knowledge to Float as a Mobile Learning Strategist.

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On June 23, 2011
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