2017 FocusOn Learning Recap with Debbie Richards


Recap of eLearning Guild’s FocusOn Learning Conference

Guest contributor, Debbie Richards, recaps the 2017 FocusOn Learning Conference, sharing her unique insights and viewpoint ofthis eLearning Guild event.

Debbie is President of Creative Interactive Ideas and currently serves as the ATD Houston VP of Marketing & Communications. She  was named one of the most influential people in corporate eLearning for 2016 and is named as one of the E-learning Movers & Shakers for 2017. She serves as a consultant to corporations and organizations, and supports clients in the area of instructional technology.  She also works with organizations to design, develop and deliver technology-based adult learning programs with measurable impact. Passionate about working with and mentoring other learning professionals, Debbie is a past president of the ATD Houston chapter and is a National Advisor for ATD Chapters. She was recently named to the ‘Top 20 Learning & Development Value Tweeters‘ — connect with Debbie via Twitter at @cre8iveii.


The 2017 FocusOn Learning conference was held in San Diego from June 20-22, 2017. This conference targeted the trends and technologies that are changing our approaches to training. This year, we examined mobile, game, and video technologies and their impact on learning and support approaches. I highly recommend this conference for anyone who wants to focus on specific aspects of training technologies. As a side note, when I wasn’t attending sessions, I was outdoors enjoying the spectacular California climate, cuisine and scenic coast!

Like all eLearning Guild conferences, the days were jam-packed with pre-conference workshops, early morning sessions, keynotes, regular sessions, DemoFest, and an Expo. This conference also had a learning arcade where you could experience virtual reality games and play board games. A few sessions were live-streamed as well. You can check out the recordings on the eLearning Guild Facebook page. 

My favorite keynote speaker was Nathalie Nahai who spoke on “The Psychology of Online Engagement”. I especially liked her explanation on the psychological principles behind the successful conversion, adoption and monetization of products, and how you can use these techniques. I purchased her book “Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion” so I could learn more about the topic and explore how to use the principles in learning.

My speaking focus at the conference was engaging subject matter experts in video production. In my sessions, we explored how subject matter experts (SMEs) can create short, just-in-time performance support videos for specific conditions or situations in which people require instruction or assistance. I provided a demonstration of the production process and a roadmap for success. If you are interested in how to do this, please contact me and I’d be happy to share my information.

My ‘Aha moment’ came in Ty Marbut’s session – BYOL: Video Production on Your Smartphone. Ty explored the technical aspects of smartphone video production and how to address the physical challenges of smartphone cameras and microphones. I immediately purchased applications to have more control over the images I am photographing and pledged to take the time to learn more about my smartphone camera features. For a full list of Ty’s recommended studio equipment for eLearning studios on various budgets, please click here. (Link opens in Google Docs.)

David Kelly, Executive Vice-President of the eLearning Guild, has an excellent back-channel curation on the conference. Check it out here.  Where will you find me next? At the 2017 Realties360 eLearning Guild Conference in San Jose, California where I will be exploring virtual and augmented reality in learning. In October, I’m attending the 2017 DevLearn Conference in Las Vegas, where Duncan Welder and I are presenting ‘From LMS to Ecosystem: Going Beyond Implementation.’ 

See you soon at a conference in the near future!

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