ASTD ICE Conference Recap, Lessons Learned and Random Events

Wow!, had a great time at the ASTD ICE Conference which recently concluded in Dallas Texas. What a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, make new friends and to stay informed of all the happenings in the world of learning.

Play to Learn Workshop

I started the conference co-facilitating a workshop with Sharon Boller of Bottom Line Performance. She and I teamed up to deliver 8 hours of game creation activities, information and ideas for creating a learning game to 30 enthusiastic and smart attendees.

Attendees work on game activities to learn about game mechanics and dynamics.

In a workshop we called “Play to Learn-Designing Effective Learning Games.” I don’t often have the chance to co-present so it was a lot of fun to present with someone and to be able to share ideas and concepts in the workshop with a fellow “learning game-creator.” Also adding expertise and insights were Steve Boller and Leanne Batchelder.

Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp take a break from the workshop to pose for a picture…then back to work.

In the first part of the day, the attendees played a number of games from The Settlers of Catan
to Forbidden Island to The Knowledge Guru. The idea…to allow participants to experience games and to derive lessons from the development of other games.

Here is some information on The Settlers of Catan

As mentioned before, we played The Knowledge Guru Game to learn the terminology of games. You can check it out yourself at the link to see how it works.

The Leaderboard for The Knowledge Guru Game we played in the workshop.

During the workshop, we had attendees create a learning game to teach sales concepts. They worked really hard and within 2.5 hours had a workable game prototype. Then we had the groups switch with each other and playtest the designs they had created. We had a creative and imaginative group and some of the games were amazing for only being created in a short period of time.

Here one group begins the development process with just a few supplies and some good ideas.

It didn’t take long for the group to develop a highly interactive, learning game. Here are two images of the game, notice the second comes complete with a “barn.”

The game progressed well with the use of game pieces, flip chart paper and imagination.

The next step involved embellishing the game and adding final pieces. The goal of the exercise was to apply the skills learned in the beginning of the workshop and to provide the attendees with concrete evidence that they could design learning games for their organizations. There is no mystery to developing a learning game, just some understanding of the basics and a determination to create an effective learning experience.

Ready to play the game…and learn.

Here are some more game examples created during the workshop.

The wonderful thing about the workshop is that, although everyone had the same content, no two game designs were the same. Not even close.

Each Continent holds a clue to winning the game.

Learning Game development in process.

Here is a post by Sharon Boller providing all the resources for the workshop.

ASTD ICE learning game design workshop resources

Here are two posts of related resources from my blog.


3 Videos All Instructional Game Designers Need to Watch

Lesson Learned

The most “out of the box” or “out of the game” solution came from a group of international participants who came up with a clever and innovative game idea. They didn’t even use a game board. They set up six chairs and the three inner chairs were astronauts and the outer chairs were planets. The astronauts needed to negotiate with each planet to land their spaceship. This involved interviewing, role playing and understanding the “driver” motivating the planet to allow someone to land. What a great way to incorporate role-playing and interviewing techniques into a learning game. Well done, gave me some great ideas for non-digital game design and a great reminder that learning games are not about pixels and bytes but about design and creativity.

Encore Workshop
For anyone who missed the workshop but wanted to attend (we sold out), an encore workshop is being held in Indianapolis, IN in August. The location is awesome and the workshop will be as well if the workshop at ASTD ICE 2013 is any indication. To learn more and to register, go here and see you in Indianapolis!

Meeting with Friends

Had a great time attending the higher education SIG. We had a good meeting and talked about some great ideas and how academics can impact the field.

The highlight of the conference for me is meeting with friends and making new friends. So, after my workshop, I had a great dinner with a group of friends at a local smokehouse.

Lots of learning folks sharing BBQ–several recovering from ride in karaoke cab (sadly I was not one of them).

I also ran into some friends and former students all now working at SuccessFactors. The picture includes Brandi, Bryan and Chase…I think Art took the picture.

Bryan, Brandi, Dr. Kapp and Chase pose for pic by Art!

Additionally, I met up with the group from the Singapore Armed Forces where, in June, I will be doing a session. It was an unexpected surprise and was most delightful. Really enjoyed meeting everyone and I am looking forward to the Chilli Crab.

Posing for a picture with Ang Guangyi, Janice Cheng and Mee Yin. Looking forward to my trip to Singapore to speak in a few weeks.

Another pleasure was watching my colleague from Mexico’s Grupo Salinas speak on the topic of “Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary People Through Technology.” Ramzi Daneri presented some great information about how their organization has leveraged a variety of technologies to enhance learning…including the use of comics, short animated videos and even game-based learning. Afterwards, we posed for a picture. Ramzi did a great job and I enjoyed watching him present.

Ramzi Daneri and Karl Kapp pose for a picture after Ramzi’s presentation. I hope to get back to Mexico City soon.

Ramzi Daneri talking about learning and technology.

Additionally, Diana helped Ramzi with the slides and the presentation. Great job Diana.

Keeping the presentation on track.

I also caught up with my friends from Enspire Learning. I spoke with a bunch of folks from Enspire but got to see Robert Bell present with Randy Esterling (of ConAgra) who presented on the topic of “Managing Talent for Results”: a Serious Game for Business Managers that Really Works.

Robert Bell talking about Game-Based Learning.

Randy Esterling showing off his juggling skills to prove a point.

The presentation focused on how Enspire and ConAgra Foods created a board game that models everyday challenges business managers face in implementing a talent management strategy. The game is actually a hybrid of a board game and some computerized data manipulation to help managers understand succession planning. We even played a mini-version of the game to get a sense of how it worked.

Robert making a point about games and learning.


On the last day of the conference, I gave my presentation called Interactivity, Games, and Gamification: A Research-Based Approach to Engaging Learners Through Games the presentation was labeled by ASTD as “Back by Popular Demand” (although I don’t remember giving that presentation before) and garnered a great deal of interest which was exciting. I am thrilled to see gamification and game-based learning gaining some traction in the industry.

All the audience members getting closer together for a group photo!

What was equally as thrilling was the folks I met before and after the presentation and how they transformed what I said into their own unique knowledge.

One such person was Amanda Myton, took awesome and great visual notes which can be accessed here.

Capturing ideas from my presentation as visual notes, well done Amanda Myton!

Another person I met face-to-face was Dan Steer, perhaps one of the most enthusiastic people I met at the entire show and it was great to meet Dan. Before and after the presentation we had a great chat, here is a video he did for a short interview and his postings on the presentation and the book.

Karl Kapp on Gamification

If you are not following Dan’s blog or his various writings on social media, learning and gamification, you should!

Stan Skrabut posted about the presentation on the blog “tubarks.” Here is the entry about the presentation. #astd2013, Interactivity, Games, and Gamification: A research-based approach to engaging learners through games with @kkapp

The resources for the presentation and the slides can be found at here at ASTD ICE 2013 Presentation Resources

After the presentation, I rushed to the book store to meet some awesome folks.

Here I am with Silvia Llacera talking about gamification.

Talking gamification and games with Silvia Llacera at ASTD 2013.

Also, I have been playing “tag” with Trish Uhl as several conferences, I have been meaning to sign her book but she is always too busy speaking and networking that we never seem to connect. Finally, we connected on that last day of the conference.

Karl Kapp and Trish Uhl catching up at ASTD ICE 2013

It was a great conference, I interacted with so many people and saw so many friends, really enjoyed it! Looking forward to next year!

Finally, I took a before and after picture at the book store to gage, informally, the interest in games and gamification at the conference, judging by the picture, I think a number of people were interested in games and gamificiation for learning.

Lessons Learned

The conference is truly international, I met up with and had lunch with people from all over the world. The learning world is small and getting smaller as I meet delegates from around the globe. Learning is constant, I learn so much from these conferences, talking with people, attending sessions and trying to understand what everyone is doing, its great to re-charge and learn new things.

Visit the vendors, I learned so much from visiting with vendors, hearing what they are working on and seeing some great innovations in plenty of areas of the learning world. Even if you are not buying anything, you need to check out where vendors are headed, they do drive the industry. I had a great time catching up with Bryan Austin at Game On! Learning and hearing about all the wonder initiatives he and his team are doing.

Finally, be open to new ideas. The idea of gamification is not that old but so many people are open to the possibilities, it reminds me to be open to new ideas, new concepts and new approaches.

Random Events

One final word, randomly bumping into someone at a session, accidently discovering a colleague was speaking at session and meeting people with whom you are planning on working in the future as well as former clients and friends is such a welcome by-product of going to events in person. Sure virtual events are great (I love them) but physical events allow for the meeting of Kelly Smith who didn’t attend the conference but lived nearby of making arrangements to speak at another conference accidently and …the list goes on and on. Just very energized by the event and was glad I had the opportunity to attend, gimpy leg and all!

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