From the 23rd to the 25th of October, more than 4200 education professionals from 86 countries came together for the yearly learning & eTech conference Devlearn in Las Vegas. Leading world institutions and company’s shared knowledge, best practices and products on how to transform current education to a futureproof and innovative learning concept.
The main topics of this year's conference included virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, personalized learning paths, learning analytics and the rise of the learning experience platform (LXP).
Special attention was paid to the question of how learning analytics can help us towards creating personalized and individual learning paths. Other important questions were about what analytics could mean for quality improvements in education and how to measure this the right way.
The day before the official conference, there were several different pre-conference workshops available. I chose to go to the xAPIcamp, which was an all-day workshop. During this workshop all major players from the industry involved with the leading xAPI standard for learning analytics were present. I took the opportunity to talk with a large group of international experts and adopters about the direction the UT wants to go, our Proof of Concept and what difficulties we are facing (privacy, technology, trust, etc). It was a good session, where we learned a lot and got a lot of interesting insights to take back home.
The starting day of the conference was marked by two keynotes. The first speaker was Sophia the Robot, an advanced humanoid. She gave a fascinating keynote about artificial intelligence (what is it, what are its capabilities, why are people are worried about it). Part of the keynote was not scripted, so the audience could (live) interact with the robot. The second keynote of the day was given by Talithia Williams, a big data expert. She told a compelling story about how data is changing the way we live, work and learn.
The second day of the conference started with the keynote of Helen Papagiannis, author of the book Augmented Human. She gave us more insights into the importance of augmented reality currently, and how it will transform the future. The last day of the conference ended with a keynote of Kate O’Neill, author of Tech Humanist. Her presentation was based on creating more meaningful and integrated experiences with technology and how chatbots, wearables and IoT devices can help us with this.
DevLearn is known for its 'DemoFest'. This is a large demonstration of use cases and best practices with cutting edge technology. This year, there were around 100 exhibitors who demonstrated their cases. To participate at Demofest as a contributor, you have to follow specific guidelines. For instance, it’s not allowed to compete as a company or just to promote a tool or solution. You must have a real problem in a real situation and your solution has to be implemented. It’s a great opportunity to sit down with the people who developed and implemented a solution and talk about the design process and what problems they encountered. I was especially interested in real-world learning analytics and what these companies have learned from it.
To conclude, Devlearn 2019 was a great way to connect with people and to learn from the best specialists in the world. With great workshops, presentations and one-on-one talks, it was an awesome learning experience itself!
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