When looking toward the future and trends, conferences are a great place for investigation. These days most academic and higher education conferences generally have sessions that touch upon eLearning. For example, a big topic over the years at the American Historical Association and the American Studies Association is the concept of the “Digital Humanities.” This topic is just like it sounds: how to utilize various computer and web-based technologies in the teaching and promotion of the humanities in academic and public settings. You guessed it—the material covered in these sessions generally is not “cutting edge” and simply conveys the application of mainstream ideas and technology for use in the “trenches.”
The conferences that really focus on new technological trends are those specifically geared toward the professionals tasked with the job of setting up eLearning at their respective institutions, be it within academia, government, or the private sector. While there are general, broad-based conferences in the field of eLearning, there are also more specialized conferences in sub-fields, for example, professional training or for Chief Information Officers.
Let’s list some of the conferences remaining during 2017 and in early 2018— including one we just missed: October 30–November 1: mLearn 2017: 16th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (Larnaca, Cyprus).
- November 16–18: 10th Annual International Conference on Education, Research & Innovation: 10 Years Building the Future of Learning (Seville, SP)
- December 6–8: OEB Global 2017: Learning Uncertainty (Berlin, GER)
- January 24–26: Association for Talent Development TechKnowledge Conference (San Jose, CA)
- January 31–February 2: Human Capital Management Excellence Conference (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
- February 11–14: The Institutional Technology Council eLearning Conference (Tuscan, AZ); Keynote Speaker: John Landis, Apple Learning
- March 2–3: 11th International Conference on eLearning & Innovative Pedagogies: Digital Pedagogies for Social Justice (New York, NY)
- March 5–7: 12th Annual International Education, Technology, & Development Conference: Rethinking Learning in a Connected Age (Valencia, SP)
The following conferences are sponsored by the eLearning Guild, an eLearning organization for information, networking, and community:
March 27–29, 2018: Learning Solutions 2018 Conference & Expo (Orlando, FL)
June 26–28: 2018 Realities360 Conference (San Jose, CA)
October 24–26: DevLearn 2018 Conference & Expo (Las Vegas, NV)
The eLearning Guild conferences are major events, but each one is directed toward a different target population. The Learning Solutions conference focuses on developing knowledge and skill sets for addressing “real life” problems for individuals working in the “trenches.” There are sessions on all of the basic arenas of eLearning, e.g., games/gamification, instructional design, mobile learning, etc. An important part of these sessions is to present “best practices” in various sub-fields.
Per the eLearning Guild, the Realities360 conference focuses on “opportunities presented by virtual reality, augmented reality, and other alternate reality technologies.” This conference is “hands on,” and its Technology Showcase offers participants time to work with the new technologies and engage others as to how it might fit into their own learning needs. An interesting session during the 2017 conference was titled “Wayfinding, Storytelling, and Structuring Interaction in VR.”
Many consider the DevLearn conference to be one of the major events in eLearning each year. DevLearn offers a window into the “cutting-edge” technologies in a wide range of sub-fields and prides itself in showcasing an array of “thought leaders” in the field. Looking back at its 2017 Keynote Speakers:
- Amy Web, “Sci-Fi Meets Reality: The Future, Today”
- LaVar Burton (Actor/Director), “Technology and Storytelling: Making a Difference in a Digital Age”
- Jane McGonigal, “How to Think Like a Futurist”
- Glen Keane (Disney Animator/Legend), “Embracing Technology-Based Creativity”
DevLearn has sessions focusing on emerging technology, innovation, and management, among others. It also touched upon the following familiar subject: “Going Beyond SCORM: Using xAPI and WordPress as an LMS.” As you might imagine, a big draw for any of the conferences by the eLearning Guild or any other entity is the vendor showroom, which displays all of the latest strategies and technologies.
Craig Lee Keller, Ph.D., Learning Strategist