LSDX 2021 Week 2 Highlights

These are my highlights and key points from week 2 of the the Learning Solutions Digital Experience (LSDX) 2021.

After attending the Learning Solutions Digital Experience (LSDX 2021), I summarized some highlights and new things I learned. These are my week 2 highlights; you can also read my summary from LSDX week 1. I hope the highlights are helpful to those who couldn’t attend the conference (and those who did attend, but missed sessions and are deciding which recordings to review).

Learning Solutions Digital Experience (LSDX) logo

The Future of Instructional Design: 5 Perspectives

This was a panel with 5 speakers, all sharing a quick prepared presentation. They all finished the sentence, “The future of ID is…” with a single word, then expanded on that theme.

  • Improvisation: Connie Malamed
  • Creative: Nick Floro
  • Flexible: Chad Udell
  • Compassionate: Megan Torrance
  • Context: David Kelly

Film School for Learning Professionals

Jonathan Halls shared a number of principles for creating video. One idea I will be able to use in my work is the formula for an explainer video.

  1. Hook: Story about a problem
  2. Describe: This solution will solve the problem.
  3. Overview: Objectives (not formal–think goals) and high level steps to follow
  4. Show: Show each step
  5. Recap: High level recap

Wonder Woman, Wakanda, and Work: Development Solutions for Representation

This is a follow up to Judy Katz and Tricia Ransom’s previous WWWW presentation about representation in elearning. You can view the resources from this presentation, including a number of tools shared, at

Judy explained how vector illustrations may be better choices for elearning than photos. While you might pay a little more initially, you can edit the images and repurpose them more easily.

Inclusion is about more than just images (although that’s important too). Also think about the language and story and how people are represented.

Making Micro Work: 4 Approaches to Microlearning and Tips to Add Value for Your Learners

Carla Torgerson suggested 4 uses for microlearning:

  1. Preparation (prework)
  2. Follow up (boosting learning)
  3. Standalone (short-form learning)
  4. Support (performance support)

Ruthless Efficiency: AI and the Not-So-Distant Future

It was refreshing to hear a presentation on AI that was neither super overhyped about how it changes everything nor all gloom and doom about the end of instructional designers. JD Dillon took a more balanced approach, looking at how AI can replace certain tasks we do, but not our whole jobs. AI will augment L&D, making certain tasks faster and easier, so IDs can focus on tasks that matter more.

Learning Experiences for All: Designing for Impact and Inclusion

Cara North and Michael Osborne shared tips and resources for improving accessibility and inclusion in elearning. You can view their resources, including an accessibility and inclusion checklist.

I picked up a few new tips for alt text.

  • Avoid introducing new concepts or terms in alt text.
  • Avoid teaching in alt text; include the information in the main text, then refer back to it in the alt text. This prevents repetition in the alt text.
  • See examples of the difference between OK and good alt text in Mozilla’s alt text explanation.

Take a Second Look at Job Aids

Dawn Mahoney suggested we use job aids when people are learning something new that:

  • must be precise
  • is complex or multi-layered
  • is used immediately or infrequently
  • requires a strict sequence
  • is challenging to retain.

10 Non-L&D Tools That Can Improve Your Practice

This was a rapid fire session with short demos by 10 different speakers. Of the tools shown, I should look at Zapier and Smartsheets more. I have done a little with Zapier (more with IFTTT currently), but I could likely automate a few of my repeated tasks with Zapier. Hadiya Nuriddin showed how she uses Smartsheets to manage projects and communicate with clients.

Low Cost Solutions for Video Production

I attended this session by Mark Lassoff because one of my clients is investigating video training. One of Mark’s key points was that quality video is 90% skill and 10% equipment. Even if you spend a ton of money on hardware, it won’t matter if you don’t know how to use it right. Invest in audio first, then some inexpensive lighting and a green screen. You can use graphics to enhance your video without requiring expensive software or hardware.

For many training purposes, your camera phone will be good enough (especially on a tripod or rig). You’re better off using a mobile device camera that you can use well than in buying an expensive camera you don’t know how to use.

Transforming What SMEs Know to What Learners Need

Last year, I attended an earlier version of this presentation by Diane Elkins and Amy Morrisey. This time, I picked up some new tips about framing the conversation and setting expectations with SMEs. One suggestion was to ask SMEs these two questions early in the process:

  1. What’s the worst training you ever took?
  2. What’s the best training you ever took?

When the SMEs talk about their best training, they’re probably going to talk either about a relationship with an instructor or about something positive in the training. Whatever that positive element is, you know that’s important to the SME, and you can work on including that in what you design together. The same goes for the negative; you’ll learn what the SME things is bad training and what to avoid. This framing puts you and the SME on the same side of “creating good training” rather than on opposite sides of what content should be included.

Advanced Storyline Tips and Tricks

Mark Weingarten demonstrated some advanced techniques for Storyline, including a dice roller animation with random number generation. I was surprised at how much of this I actually knew, since I only consider myself an intermediate Storyline user. However, it was helpful to hear Mark walk through his thought process for creating animations and how he uses layers to control motion animations.

Use Escape Games to Create a Unique Learning Experience

Of all the sessions I attended, Rachel Arpin probably had the best audience interactions. We started with a facilitated escape room, where she was the Game Master and we typed actions in chat. We also brainstormed together some possible activities for a new game to get a taste of the game design process. Each puzzle within an escape game follows a structure of Challenge – Action – Reward.

Learning in the New Normal: 5 Perspectives

The final session of LSDX 2021 was another group session, with 5 short presentations by Julie Dirksen, Wendy Gates Corbett, Bob Mosher, Tracy Parish, and David Kelly. David Kelly closed the session with a final big question: How do we support people, not just learning?

Upcoming Event: Pushing the eLearning Envelope

At LSDX, I spoke about using Twine for quick branching scenario prototypes. That session covered the basics of getting started in Twine. Next month, I’m giving another presentation that will cover some more advanced topics with Twine, showing a little more of what’s possible with Twine as a finished product. I will be presenting at the Learning Guild’s “Pushing the eLearning Envelope” Online Conference On June 9 at 11:15 ET/8:15 PT. You can register for that online conference now.

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