#articulateuk11 round-up - the best European #Articulate conference yet (#edtech #uoltech #elearning)

#articulateuk11 round-up – the best European #Articulate conference yet (#edtech #uoltech #elearning)

Some people say that, if you really want to learn something, teach it (but they forget to add the second part of this, which is “and watch out for the I-know-best trap”). I’ve been trying to do that since starting to look after the University of Leeds Articulate pilot project almost four years ago and the results are pretty cool in my opinion: lots of folks creating very groovy things (a few publicly available on our own support website); two regular courses for beginners and advanced users; number of resources created with Articulate Studio and made available in our VLE (LMS) going up from 200 in May 2009, to 1,600 in May 2010, to approximately 2,400 in May, 2011.

How did we get to this stage, though? Well, we certainly didn’t do it by building high walls, crocodile-filled moats, and the like around what we’re trying to achieve in the area of blended learning. Since 2009, together with a handful of supercool folks, I’ve been organising the European Articulate Conference every May at the University of Leeds. My managers and colleagues in the University of Leeds Staff and Departmental Development Unit kindly and unreservedly supported my initiative, my colleague Claire very generously gave up her time to help me organise it, Articulate themselves appreciated the thought, lent their support, contributed generously and trusted me to start something groovy, my wife Alina took the role of critical friend (and boy, could she be critical when the programme was rather flaky.. 🙂 ), and friends chipped in with ideas when needed, too.

Last week we held the third edition and I am pretty confidently saying it was the best one yet, with brilliant participants and excellent sessions.

Collage of sessions at the Third European Articulate Conference

Collage of sessions at the Third European Articulate Conference

We got a lot of feedback from our participants (66 academic and professional, in-house and freelance instructional designers and e-learning enthusiasts) and the things that stood out were:

  • a sneak peak at Articulate Storyline (third photo down on the third row in the collage above – the lady cartoon character on the screen) and the chance to ask our friend at Articulate, Don Freda, a few things about this new product, as well as the next version of Articulate Studio (which will publish for the iPad, too – in HTML5 format; everyone’s keen to play with the beta now to see exactly what the differences in functionality between publishing in Flash and publishing in HTML5 are)
  • E-Learning Hero David Anderson’s outstanding session on Design Mapping – a recording of which, together with other resources, is available on the conference webpage
  • the opportunity to have Articulate expert Dave Moxon there on the day to quiz about whatever things people could think of (including some of the questions they had asked before the conference)
  • the lunchtime informal sessions which Tony Lowe held on customising Articulate skins, and Bruce Graham on running a successful e-learning projects and dealing with customers
  • the variety of excellent presentations from many, many university colleagues and representatives of e-learning companies (please see the conference programme for a complete list)
  • the fact that there was something for all levels of users
  • the technology available on the day – I had “planted” a PaperShow smartpen for folks to play with, and I used Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro for the two online sessions in which Don and David interacted with us from the comfort of their US homes. I am yet to see what my other smartpen has recorded and see whether I can release any other resources.
  • the fact that it all ran like clockwork, there was a lot going on, but also plenty of opportunities to socialise and make friends. This was really everyone’s merit: we created a busy, but varied programme, everyone made sure that they were where they wanted to be when they needed to be there, and the venue team (John, Victor and their colleagues) ran the catering side of things to perfection and with big smiles.
Will I do it again? You bet! We’ve got a small team of really cool people volunteering our time for this and we know a lot better what we’re doing. I’ve been learning things since the first edition and I am always humbled by the kindness and high standard of the participants. This is my way of giving back to the e-learning community and I am very keen on giving something back.
What’s the plan for next year? Well, it’s a pretty exciting one, involving certain individuals (they also go by the title of … Heroes) hopefully making an appearance in the UK for the first time, so do watch this space.