Why I’m Looking Forward to mLearnCon: Shauna Vaughan

The mLearnCon Conference & Expo takes place June 10 – 12 in Austin, Texas. There are a number of reasons why people look forward to mLearnCon each year. The “Why I’m Looking Forward to mLearnCon” series invites members of the Guild Community to share what it is that makes mLearnCon special and what they’re looking forward to exploring at this year’s event.

In this post we welcome Shauna Vaughan of SweetRush, as she shares why she’s excited to be coming to Austin this June.

Photo via Barron Fujimoto http://bit.ly/1eN68at

Photo via Barron Fujimoto http://bit.ly/1eN68at

We’re heading to Austin, folks! It’s famous for lots of things like music, food trucks…and bats! Bats?? Yes, bats. The last time I was there I was one of many who gathered on the Congress Bridge to see 1.5 million bats emerge and make their departure for the evening. We waited, and waited…and waited. And then it happened! Millions of bats! If you can make it down there, go early and be patient; you’re in for a show.

I know what you’re thinking. What in the world do bats have to do with mobile learning and mLearnCon?! Well, what if we applied their GPS-like abilities to our mLearning designs? What can we learn from how they use their on-board navigation as we incorporate such features into learning solutions? Bats use sonar to gather info and navigate surroundings. How can we enable our learners to gather info and navigate their surroundings via mobile learning?

These questions are the stuff that conferences like this are made of. Questions, answers, discussions, debates…good stuff. With so much in flux, so many challenges and opportunities, this sort of active discovery is desperately needed in our industry right now. We need to be talking about technology as it evolves if we are to be effective L&D professionals (and evangelists).

I attend conferences, in general, because I enjoy learning from, and chatting with, my peers about the on-goings in our industry. As L&D continues to evolve with the landscape of technology, we have much to consider in our designs and methodologies. This will be my first time attending mLearnCon (although this conference has been on my to-do list for several years), and I am looking forward to seeing and hearing about how people are designing and implementing mobile solutions. I look forward to dialogue about where mobile is taking us and our learners.

You could say I’m looking forward to “batting” some things around. Here are some questions that are top-of-mind for me as mLearnCon approaches:

  • Do we still think e-learning (as-is) is phone-compatible, or do we agree that learning on phones is “just different”? I think our industry is still figuring out how learning on phones should happen, and I am curious to see how we capitalize on what phones will allow while keeping our learner advocate hats on.
  • Will mobile learning be synonymous with micro-learning? Micro-learning, like mobile learning, is a buzzword and on the lips of many L&D professionals. The difference is that, while we all seem to agree on what micro-learning looks and feels like, we are still fine-tuning that for mobile learning. If we consider how people interact with mobile devices, we might adjust our learning designs accordingly. This may mean that learning on mobile devices is, by default, micro-learning.
  • How are my peers motivating their learners to use mobile devices? Is it fair to think that if learners are mobile, their learning should be, too? I’m curious what WIIFMs my colleagues are suggesting to learners to get them to engage on mobile devices. I wonder what resistance they are facing and how they are adjusting accordingly.
  • What challenges are my peers (or our industry in general) facing around getting buy-in from clients and stakeholders for mobile solutions? Different from learner resistance to mobile solutions, I’m curious what kinds of challenges my colleagues are facing from clients and stakeholders and how they are managing them.
  • And, of course, what is next for mobile learning? I’ll bet many of the folks at mLearnCon will have a theory here! I most look forward to discussing the future. While we don’t have crystal balls (or do we?), it’s fun to chat about what mobile could, would, and should be in the future. Perhaps most interesting will be discussions about how to handle learning design despite the nature of mobile technology in its ever-evolving state!

I am also excited to be presenting this year and sharing some of my own ideas about mobile learning. My colleague, Clare Dygert, and I will share our approach for consulting on mobile solutions, which has become a unique challenge as learners become mobile and clients explore ways of making training more available. Our session is going to be interactive and informative, providing you with tips and tools to help you effectively consult with clients, whether they are internal or external. Don’t tell Clare I’m telling you all, but we’ll also share a new model and  taxonomy for consulting. The session is called “One Step Ahead: Consulting with Clients on Mobile Learning” and we’re hoping to spark some lively conversation. Please come join us – would be great to see you.

Hey, and when you’re enjoying your rum drink, thank those bats for it. Did you know they consume pests that often target the sugar cane that makes rum? I can’t help it folks, I love learning! See you all in Austin, where we will do just that!

Shauna Vaughan, a Lead Instructional Designer at SweetRush, is dedicated to being a learner advocate. She has designed training for a variety of industries and delivery modalities. With a background in physiological psychology and a master’s degree in instructional technology, she has expertise in brain-compatible instructional strategies, needs assessment, process improvement, and storytelling.

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