OEB22 Speaker Guy Shtub: My Experience at the OEB Conference in Berlin

In late November I was invited to speak at the OEB learning technologies conference in Berlin. You can read more about the talk I gave in this blog post.

In this post, I’ll share some of my experiences from the conference and what I learned. It was my first time at this conference, and I had a wonderful experience. I feel like I learned more than I shared.

Berlin in November was snowy, cold, and beautiful. Quite a change for me, coming from sunny Israel. The conference took place in the Ku’damm area with lively Christmas markets.

My attendance was valuable. I connected with colleagues, saw what other companies are doing, and learned about new technologies and industry terms.

The conference had an exhibition with many companies demonstrating their technology.

  • I learned from D-ID about using AI to artificially generate videos from text and photos of the speaker. While the technology seems very interesting, the generated videos I saw still felt, well artificial, and I don’t see us using this technology in the near future.
  • Some companies presented gamification solutions that can be incorporated into training material. I found this very interesting and got some ideas for how we can add more gamification to ScyllaDB University. One example is Seppo. An example usage I can think of is the gamification of a monitoring dashboard with different results.
  • A few companies offered platforms to create and consume video. An impressive example is Class, a company that offers a Zoom addon for teaching. I could see how they add value for live classes, but I didn’t see any features related to writing code or features that were focused on IT labs.
  • A few large companies offering LMS solutions were present as well, among them D2LMoodle and Cypher Learning. It was interesting to see their offering, and their latest features, and compare it to our chosen open-source LMS solution.
  • Some companies offering proctoring solutions were present, like Proctorexam and Proctorio. We previously considered offering a certification exam that would be proctored to be ScyllaDB Certified for different skills but didn’t pursue this for different reasons. If this is something you’d like to see, share your input on the community forum.
  • Many companies offer to integrate with other LMS systems using Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). Unfortunately, LearnDash, our current solution, does not support LTI, and we hope they will add this support in the future.

Many of the things I learned were from talking with colleagues in between sessions. I got some ideas from my colleague, Yanay Zaguri, of Appsflyer, about how to get engineers and developers to create training material as part of the development process instead of them doing it as an afterthought.

An interesting talk by Katrina Kennedy, a training consultant based in the US, dealt with how to be more engaging as a trainer. It was mainly focused on in-person training, but some of the points were relevant for online training as well. Some of my takeaways were:

  • Get the trainees to be active and not just read or listen.
  • If live and online, ask them to respond to a question, a poll, or use an interactive quiz game.
  • If doing face-to-face, ask the trainees to discuss a topic in groups of 2-3 people.
  • Strive for 5 minutes or less of “passive” learning before each engaging activity, like quizzes, polls, and questions.
  • For the most engaged students, ask them to support peers and moderate or suggest content.

Another interesting talk was by Laura Pomares of the UN. She shared her experience in using a personalized email drip campaign to make sure her users were engaged. In the campaign, users were split into three buckets: ones that don’t engage (red bucket), ones that do engage (green), and those in between (yellow). The campaign reached out to the users from each bucket and, with personalized messages, and tried to get them to move to the next bucket or to make sure that the ones in the green bucket stay there.

It was interesting to participate as a trainee in some experiential learning talks and feel firsthand what activities kept me focused on the subject and which didn’t work so well.

There were many more talks I found interesting, covering topics like measuring the impact of learning, using avatars, AI, gamification, analytics, and more. I won’t cover them all.

The conference had over 2000 attendees and dozens of talks. Some of the topics focused on Academia, while others focused on Corporate learning and training.  In a given time slot, there were sometimes 3-4 talks I was interested in, and it was a hard choice to make which one to attend. On the other hand, in other time slots, all the talks were about topics that were not relevant to me.

If there is one thing that I’d improve in the organization of the conference, it would be to make the talks more evenly spread out so that at any given time, there would be talks that are relevant to everyone.

I would personally attend the conference again and recommend it to people in the field.

Written by Guy Shtub and reposted for OEB Global.

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