Day 1 at I/ITSEC: A Reflection

I’ve been a little stuck, or, as my friend Val pointed out, maybe a bit de-motivated. It happens to us all at some point in our career so I am trying to embrace it and explore things to help propel me out of my current rut. One of these things is attending the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC conference).   I started my learning & development career developing technical training and until recently was designing training for unmanned systems.  I thought getting back to my roots may spark some inspiration and help me see my current position from a new perspective.

Introduction to Modeling & Simulation (M&S)

I went to this session as it’s been a while since I played in this space and I wanted a refresher on the key terms the Department of Defense (DoD) uses to describe the various types of simulations.  I got this (see M&S References for the basics) and learned that the DoD  is facing very similar challenges to what most of us in the learning industry face:

  • Interoperability and Reuse
  • Rapid scenario/content generation capabilities
  • Human and organization behavior representation
  • Cross domain information sharing and security issues

To me this means that there is a lot we can learn from and help each other with which is why but what i I feel it’s so valuable for non-technical and non-military training professionals to get outside their comfort zones and explore our world from another sector’s perspective.

Discovery Experimentation

I was attracted to this session on Discovery Experimentation as it’s one of the ways the Departemnt of Defense is trying to innovate and the topic of innovation is an interest area of mine   To be honest I was late for this session so I only caught the last half on examples of how Discovery Experimentation has been used to support development of new tactics (pretty technical) but I still gleaned this:

  • Experimentation is a key to innovation

We often associate experiments with all things engineering & technical but why can’t we make room for experimentation in areas like talent development?  We say we want to be agile, yet we still expect our products to be polished and work the first time around.  We don’t give ourselves the room or space to fail.

Pretty fired up about this one – maybe a spark of inspiration?

Side Note:  The presenter mentioned that one of their biggest lessons learned in doing discovery experimentation was the need for Agile Leader training as this helps to get people out of the mindset of “must be perfect” and “failure is bad.”

Demystifying xAPI & Learning Analytics

The final session of the day was on xAPI and the importance of learning analytics. I attended mainly because the speaker was from the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative.

One of my first projects, many moons ago, at Booz Allen Hamilton was with the ADL. They do really creative work and emulate many of the practices I believe in (open source, cross organization and industry collaboration, innovation, disruption).

The ADL website has many great resources on xAPI (see belowI) so I won’t go into it here.  I will just say that I believe xAPI is critical in helping us to create better and more personal learning experiences as allows us to keep detailed track of “learning experience” data wherever that data comes from (i.e. e-learning, simulation, on-the-job-training, tablet based educational experience, e-reader).

What I took away from this session (besides a better understanding of xAPI) was the need to be more diligent about data collection and metrics.  The following are on my list to take a deeper dive into:

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