The Guild Thang

I’ve been self chained inside the Hilton in Orlando for 3 mights now. Tomorrow I make my break for the border, over the fence, and will run for the airport.

This is mostly my own doing. I am here for the eLearning Guild 2008 Annual Gathering. I have learned that “eLearning” is an umbrella term for online training, etc in the private sector, things like “corporate virtual universities” etc so it is a different crowd and conference from the typical education ones I have attended.

Maybe its different. Folks here are quite nice, met ones from insurance companies, police departments, and others that work for the eCompanies that create eLearning. I’d say it is noteworthy where there are a number of sessions and products claiming to address the problem of eLearning being “boring”.

I’m here at the invite of Mark Oehlert, whom I have crossed paths online– he has an interesting presentation format called The Great ILS (That Spells Serious Games) Challenge 2.0 (more on that in later post). When i asked the Guild about helping with travel expenses, they asked if I could do 2 more sessions.


That is me.

I bit that hook.., a bit for the curiosity of attending a different conference, but also the location made it reasonable to schedule a pre-conference visit with my Mom in Ft Myers. But oh did I fall behind on my prep, so I was in the hotel all Monday night, Tuesday afternoon/evening doing my prep. I’ve not seen anything outside the hotel lawn (sorry Sis, I did not get out to “see the sights”).

So I dont have a great deal of conference type blogging to do. There’s a lot of technology here, a lot on SCORM, virtual classrooms, XML, screen capture, etc. There’s over arching thread though of a lot of focus on “content”- moving it from one system to another, turning “content” into courses. There’s mention and even sessions on Web 2.0, X or Y generation learners, and even a few mention of social networking (and met some people doing corporate wikis on a scale educators can only dream of), but over all its learning focused on content- lots of paper handouts too. LOTS of powerpoint. LOTS.

So I did attend a session today on “Serious Games for Corporate America” and oh my gosh, I could not take it seriously at all. After talking about using games to appeal to “Gen X”, the first example was a game based on… Jeopardy. This and subsequent examples were all multiple choice “games” that delved only as deep as rote memorization (this company, by the way, charges $40k for a game license, am I in the wrong business again?). Another “game” had a “race car” theme, but was more multiple choice where getting the answer right meant your little car would advance one stop on a track.

I really struggle to call something a serious game that is based on multiple choice.

Did I forget to mention the hangman game?

Was I in some sort of time tunnel? Was this 1994? 1987? Where the **** was I?

I am astonished to even compare these “games” to the open ended Alternate Reality Games I saw at SXSW, at the concepts Henry Jenkins shares about the richness of fan fiction and convergence culture, of the complexity of modern multifaceted storylines people watch in shows like Lost.

I did not see anything serious about trivial games.

Wow, that was one…. strange….. session.

If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. The hardest working man in EdTech. I often wonder how companies like that survive when they have access to a wide-range of examples of how outdated they are. I always though you could use Gary’s gravity engine from Half-Life 2 to create a pretty amazing gaming experience for a classroom (not unlike your Negative Reinforcement gem for 2005) with little overhead (far, far, far less than $40,000).

    A similar example closer to home is a video streaming company that charged an unnamed university close to $100,000 that U-Stream does just as well for $0. Talk about the wrong business, when I think about just how much waste there is in creating an experience online that no one will either enjoy or use, I kind feel like bootlegging and selling VHS tapes because it feels like that’s where the demand is.

  2. “Where the **** was I?” – I think some people aren’t up to speed, basically. Ten years is a huge period of time now, and ten year old tech is ancient, but people who are used to going THAT slow may not have adapted at all. Sometimes “they” feel like a whole different species – Neanderthals? Those thousands of dollars in trade exchange hands in that parallel, slower time dimension, because it’s separated enough. It’s like people exchanging their family diamonds for a loaf of bread in a besieged city, where isolation creates weird prices. The fun part is that the temporal (or pace) isolation still allows everybody to watch the antics of slower folks.

    Oh, and I am forever anxious about not being in the fastest possible timeline, either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *