In keeping up with our tradition of doing an After Action Review whenever we have a major event, this time around, we are going to be talking about Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD) 2017, the virtual conference we hosted last week. And, to continue the spirit of connecting virtually, this special episode was also recorded as a Facebook Live session on our Facebook page.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Celisa and Jeff reflect on LTD utilizing the components of an After Action Review as a framework for their thinking. They discuss what it is they set out to do, what actually happened – including why there was a difference between the two, if there was one – and what they will continue and/or change going forward.
Listen to the Show
Read the Show Notes
[01:07] – A preview of what will be covered in this episode where Celisa and Jeff perform an After Action Review of Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD), the virtual conference they hosted last week (March 1–3, 2017).
[01:32] – Before we dive fully into the review, we want to be sure to say thank you to everyone who participated in the event. To all of you who attended and participated, to the great speaker-facilitators who made it an event worth attending, as well as to the many vendors who exhibited at the event. And special thanks to YourMembership for serving as the executive sponsor of the event and CommPartners for being the production sponsor.
An extra nod as well to YourMembership for being the sponsor for this quarter of the Leading Learning podcast.
[02:19] – Highlighted Resource of the Week – Padlet – An online pad where you can create and collaborate by sharing and posting pictures/videos/text. This was also highlighted in the session, Cool Tech Tools to Turbo Charge Your Learning Business held at LTD where we asked participants to post what cool tools they are using in their learning and education business. Check out the Cool Tools pad from LTD here (and add your tools to it!)
[03:41] – What is an After Action Review (AAR)? The four components include:
- What did we set out to do?
- What actually happened?
- Why is there a difference between the first two (if there is one)?
- What should we continue and what should we change?
This was popularized by David Garvin*, who wrote about it as a practice used by the U.S. Army. We encourage it as a practice for organizations that produce educational offerings of any sort. It is also something we recommend for individual lifelong learners – see https://www.missiontolearn.com/after-action-review/ to learn more.
[05:03] – What did we set out to do?
- Make what we did in 2016 much more accessible by making LTD available in a virtual format.
- Figure out a way to involve vendors that might have more impact and more staying power/lasting impact than just staffing a booth at a face-to-face event.
- “Walk the walk” with our own virtual event by getting first hand experience with what we have written about as a major – and, in our opinion, still underutilized, delivery method. In particular, we wanted up close experience regarding how it compared to a face-to-face event.
- Continue to raise awareness of – and validate – lifelong learning as a business and something that represents the third sector of education.
- Extend the virtual conference through ongoing recordings for live attendees and others.
- Meet financial goals.
[10:00] – What actually happened?
- We definitely made the event more accessible with many more attendees (we more than doubled registration from last year), as well as a broader base of attendees.
- We were hoping to make vendors a more impactful part of LTD and we achieved that to a certain level. With the third day being devoted to short demonstrations by vendors, it was a step in the right direction, but conveying a value proposition in a brief period of time is a real challenge, albeit a necessary one. There is certainly room for improvement but the virtual event did allow vendors to be involved more meaningfully than at the place-based event.
- Although some people think the networking might not be as good at a virtual event, if you took advantage of the tools available at LTD (i.e. chat, twitter, etc.), the opportunities were definitely there. The learning opportunities were also very strong and research shows it’s not the medium that makes a difference in learning, it’s the method. We clearly had presenters who knew how to handle the medium and it’s hard to imagine that the learning experience would have been any better face-to-face.
- We tried our best to emphasize idea of lifelong learning as business – and not just about money, but about value, impact, and actually leading change and moving the dial in your field or industry. As part of this, we ended up emphasizing the role of the individual lifelong learner, maybe more than we had initially planned. Our “selfie paced learning” campaign was an example of how we tried to get attendees to engage as lifelong learners.
- We had financial goals which we discussed openly as part of the event in the session, A Practical Approach to Pricing: Van Westendorp and Beyond. For the most part, we felt like the demand was there and in terms of pricing, it seemed to be good because of the response we got.
[17:42] – Why is there a difference between the first two?
- We would still have liked to reach more attendees and although we grew attendance from last year, we think there’s still potential to grow even more.
- We would have liked to increase networking and grow participation. We had a lot of good engagement in sessions but it would be great to think about ways to get learners to make connections outside and between sessions – so create opportunities for overarching social interactions. We could pull in tools (for example, we used Padlet and Kahoot this year) to allow folks to interact and engage even outside the context of sessions with start/end times.
- We will get started a bit earlier next time – it wasn’t until after the Leading Learning Symposium at the end of October that we were able to focus on this event. We’d also like to create a better way to deal with issues we encountered around organizational registrations.
- From a financial perspective, we want to continue to make it as affordable as we can while still making sure it justifies the time and effort.
[22:03] – What should we continue and what should we change?
- Continue emphasis on social aspects – e.g., selfie-paced learning, integrating tools like Padlet and Kahoot, more into the overall experience.
- Figure out how to promote more interaction with the exhibitors – and perhaps make the exhibits a kind of formal learning experience.
[24:08] – We want to emphasize that although we did the AAR now (right after the live conference), there is still more learning for us and attendees since the recordings will now be available (and they’ll also be available for purchase).
[25:14] – Wrap Up
Thanks again to YourMembership for being the sponsor for this quarter of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[27:00] – Sign off
P.S. – You can access other After Action Reviews at the following links:
- Leading Learning Symposium 2015, Part I
- Leading Learning Symposium 2015, Part II
- Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD) 2016, Part I
- Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD) 2016, Part II
* David Garvin passed away not too long after this post. We highly recommend this post on the HBR blog about the influence of his work.