Learning Rebel Yell for DevLearn Technology: Tom Spiglanin

As is the usual modus operandi for Learning Rebels and reflection pieces,


I try to gather up opinions not just singing the general praises of an event, but try to gather different insights and perspectives.  In this case, I managed to put Tom Spiglanin in a corner. (Does anyone put Tom in a corner?) He is another Learning Rebel out there, doing some interesting stuff with video and other technologies.  So I was curious.  What were his thoughts about the technology side of DevLearn.  As displayed in the SnapGuide piece I put together immediately afterward the conference (Journey Through DevLearn) https://snapguide.com/guides/journey-through-devlearn/  There was an app for that! Who knew? 

Using the app, as Tom points out, was key to link to the backchannel once at the conference.  If you were savvy enough even if you weren’t there, and in a lnad far, far away – you linked to the app to keep up with what was happening, while following through the twitter backchannel, just like Michelle Baker did – read her story here, it’s very interesting indeed: http://phasetwolearning.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/interesting-things-i-learned-from-devlearn-2014/

Tom So here is Tom’s story  – as always, I look forward to hearing all about your experiences and thoughts.  You can also find Tom on twitter @TomSpiglanin

As some of you already know, I have already created and posted videos to describe my recent DevLearn conference experience. It was great fun and quite the experience gathering up the needed pictures and corralling friends to put on their Oscar award winning acting faces.  They all turned out great (if I do say so myself!).

They can be found here:

  1. http://tom.johnandrewrankin.com/2014/11/my-devlearn-experience-in-video-days-2-and-3/
  2. http://tom.johnandrewrankin.com/2014/11/my-devlearn-experience-in-video-arrival-and-day-1/
  3. http://tom.johnandrewrankin.com/2014/11/the-making-of-microvideos-with-friends-at-devlearn/

DL_app3 Now,  rather than writing more details about the actual DevLearn conference sessions and what have you, I’m going to let out a Learning Rebel Yell and instead address one specific thing I thought was profound at DevLearn 2014: the conference app!


First, it’s important to understand the DevLearn audience. This is the eLearning Guild’s conference for elearning developers. The audience is largely technical, but not necessarily mobile-connected. Past conferences offered their participants leading-edge technologies, including ways to assemble slides for later use from a variety of presenters, and content aggregators that reflected a snapshot of the conference from the Twitter backchannel. The previous mobile app was really good too, presenting not only options for planning and following your personal agenda but enabling the Twitter backchannel directly from the app while in sessions.

Theres an app This year, the app was completely refreshed. The agenda and other key features were retained, but the activity feed feature had changed in a fundamental way. It was still possible to tweet or post to Facebook directly from the app, but the significant change were the incentives.



For each post, you would earn points. For every photo shared, more points. Check into a session for more points. Even the surveys to evaluate each session were incentivized – and earned you the most points.



DL_app2 Once you’d earned enough points, you could visit the swag shop at, “The Hub,” and cash them in on real (and sought-after) eLearning Guild merchandise, like a hoodie or any of several tee shirts available.

The result was phenomenal. The conference stream, viewable on the app or on a large screen monitor in the Hub, was incredibly active. People were actively, continuously contributing to the live stream for all to see. As I marveled at the result, it hit me that the Guild had effectively demonstrated to everyone in attendance the value and fun from a live stream. It was, in effect, its own backchannel.


Theres an app2 Sure, there are things that could be improved. When posting to Twitter, the conference hashtag wasn’t automatically added. And people could earn points for simply “liking” someone else’s post, so the gamers would like every single post and became the first to rid the swag shop of the coveted hoodies. But they were actively engaged and contributing. It was a great thing to see.

I look forward to seeing how the app evolves by the next Guild conference I attend. I have to think the Guild sees the experiment as a tremendous success and continues to push the envelope in walking the talk of industry-leading learning experiences.


Share your thoughts!  Did you use the DevLearn App?  Was it helpful to you? Were you one of the people who managed to snag a coveted hoodie? Could the app be made more helpful or useful? Share below!


Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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