Last week, I attended the 2012 Digital Media & Learning Conference in San Francisco. “Learning?” I can hear you ask. Yes, Learning.
Ok, I was there because I was speaking on a panel on Design for All, Media, Learning and Multi-Generational audiences. I booked my travel well before the conference program was available, so I discovered that the main gist of the show was not, exactly, related to what I do on a day to day basis- but it was really fascinating, regardless.
I was not super diligent at getting to every possible session, but those that I did attend were really interesting. What struck me, perhaps because I attending just a few days after HIMSS- were the similarities between what seemed to be a movement within the attendees of DML and the Health 2.0 movement, with some differences, of course.
What was similar, to me as an outsider on both ‘movements’ is a change in the delivery of a set of activities (in these cases, learning and wellness (note I didn’t use Education and Healthcare)) that is facilitated by new technologies, where a passionate set of advocates are looking to radically improve the impact of the activities for a better outcome. Also related is the personalization of the activities, the empowerment of the individual on the ‘receiving’ end, and data- lots of data to measure outcomes.
Ok, how could I not mention the gameification of everything, but frankly I’m so weary of that topic, I’d rather not discuss it. Either gameification is going to actually make us all be the people we should and want to be, or it’s not. I’ll just wait to see if it happens.
In Health 2.0, it’s the devices of the quantified self, gathering all this crazy data that will be used to measure progress, micro course correct treatments and help us get to the best outcomes. In hmm, Ed 2.0 (I don’t know if that’s the right term) it’s new methods to use technology to, again capture micro moments of learning, which again, will be analyzed and materials will be tweaked to get to the the best learning outcome (at least I think that’s part of it).
Supporting, or perhaps surrounding both these movements seems to be a group of incredibly passionate smart people- trying to do the best they can for people that may not even know they need what is being created.
I really never thought I’d see so many panels on data at Education conference (ok in full disclosure I didn’t go to any)- but i would have said the same thing about health tech, or digital health a year ago. the same questions of “now that we have all this information, what do we do with it and how do we present it” is happening in both groups.
Maybe I’m just a super nerd, but I found all this really interesting.
Oh, the panel I was on? Was very interesting as well-certainly different than any one I’ve been on in the past. Allison Druin described the differences in the ways that children use search, from as early as age 7- and the challenges that are presented by their behaviors. Cynthia Chiong of Sirius Thinking spoke about the differences between how parents and kids read/use ebooks and print books. I was expecting to see that all kids totally loved and were successful with the ebooks, it turns out it’s a lot more complicated than you’d think…
Finally, Rafael “Tico” Ballagas from Nokia’s research and design group spoke about their work on co/distance reading platforms, which I’m a super fan of (not just because I’m away from my kids so much) the tech they’ve developed for storyvisit is incredible- and the data they’ve found about interesting little elements (like is it invasive to have elmo there helping the story along? As it turns out, for grandparents…yes, yes he is!). I think the possibilities for combating isolation in elderly populations by connecting folks with either their grand kids or perhaps other kids that need some extra attention, through this sort of service is incredible.
Where did Design for All come in to all this? Well I may not have done as good a job as I could have in making the pitch that DfA is a principle that should be foundational for all these sorts of studies. I do think, or hope at least, that I presented something of the demographic trends that make a case for considering the 50+ when designing products and services in general, and of course media, content, and learning. While i didn’t have much to say directly on the DML part- I find just giving some background on the segment usually triggers some thinking in the people in the room. My hope is just to be a little gnat in their ear saying “don’t forget the 50+”
Based on some recommendations, I attended a panel on Saturday morning on Universal Design Learning (UDL). While focused on children, learning and disabilities- loved the concept of “variabilities”- essentially that even two people (kids, seniors whatever) diagnosed with the same issues or condition can have very different capabilities, how does one design learning (or devices) for all these variable? I actually don’t have the answer (surprise!) in the past I’d have argued that the best design picks a manageable common denominators of important features and uses creativity to bend the curve on those- an other argument could be to build in as much personalization and flexibility to accomplish as much for each person as possible (makes me think of all the ways to print a document in MS Word)- which is better?
….I’m not sure….
What I love about ending up at conferences like this-where it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse, is the way makes me look at things from different perspectives…
Which is always a good thing…