Okay, so I just did a speaking engagement at last week’s Training Tech Solutions conference in Salt Lake City. In years past, this was a great conference, and I had high hopes. They promoted it as the “Best of the Best,” recruiting past sessions that were rated by attendees as definitely worth seeing again. Unfortunately, the session just never took off and was disappointing on a lot of levels.

First off, who would “redo” a presentation they gave a year ago? Come on. Elearning technology changes so rapidly, a six month old presentation would already be outdated. I ended up spending about 20 hours researching and updating our gamespace continuum model. So you can imagine the disappointment when (as the last speaker on the last day) I only had about 12 attendees for the 2 hour workshop session. It wasn’t for lack of interest, I don’t believe. Even on day one, there were MANY empty sessions. The attendees just didn’t show.

And neither did the conference support. Late in the game, Digitec was offered a 30 minute sponsored session to demo our product. I clearly wrote up the sponsored session description: Using PowerPoint, Direct-to-WEB and Knowledge Direct WEB to produce game-based learning using PowerPoint. Pretty clear. But the attendees who showed up slammed me on my evaluation sheets for “promoting product” during the session. Yet, that’s what a sponsored session does. And when there was no session support and no electricity for my laptop (or support to help), it didn’t help matters that my demo crashed mid-game. Turns out that I plugged into the podium, which of course had no juice.

The other disappointment was that my company invested in exhibiting in Salt Lake, and the trade show hall was empty. In fact, Learning.com — our neighbors across the aisle — folded up shop just before the conference opened and left town. I guess they knew something we didn’t.

Ultimately, what was most disappointing was that the sessions were really good. I sat in on several, and these weren’t the typical “elearning design” talking sessions. The session facilitators used a lot of hands-on activities, great samples and very compelling case studies. High points were Susan Boyd and her discussion on job aids and Anne-Marie Sutch-Stabio and her session on gaming.

It’s just too bad Training didn’t get the turn-out.


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