ASTD, er… ATD, time to get reblued

ASTD Welcome Sign
ASTD Welcome Sign

When I was in the Air Force, we occasionally had to go to Professional Military Education (PME), we called it “rebluing.” Over the span of 20 years, I attended 20 weeks of PME. It was an opportunity to learn. These sessions were motivating and when we were done, we were ready to tackle the world. Well, ASTD, er… I mean ATD (they changed their name during the conference) has that same effect on me. It is an opportunity to learn from others, see inspirational speakers, stock up on reading material, reconnect with friends, and most importantly come back and try to apply what I have learned. Well, I am ready to again tackle the world. I have been reblued

Taking a lead from a wonderful post by Shannon Tipton called In the Afterglow – ASTD ICE 2014. Now What?, I will pull together my thoughts and experiences from this great conference.

My Conference Goals

As I mentioned above, I attend ASTD conferences to gain inspiration and ideas that will help me move forward for the rest of the year. Actually, that is why I attend any conference. This year, I have had the opportunity to attend the National Extension Conference in Sacramento, CA; the Mountain Plains Adult Education Association Conference in Santa Fe, NM; and now the American Society for Training and Development Conference in Washington, DC. During each conference, I walked away with ideas and inspiration. I also had an opportunity to connect and reconnect with a number of wonderful people.

One of the important stops on my trip is to the ASTD Bookstore where I stock up on reading for the rest of the year. This year was no different, I made two runs to the bookstore and here is what I walked away with:

Biech, E. (2007). The business of consulting: The basics and beyond (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Bozarth, J. (2014). Show your work: The payoffs and how-to’s of working out loud (First Edition.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass & Pfeiffer Imprint, Wiley.

Carroll, K. (2004). Rules of the red rubber ball: Find and sustain your life’s work (1st ed.). New York: ESPN Books.

Carroll, K. (2009). The red rubber ball at work: Elevate your game through the hidden power of play. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Emerson, T. (2011). The change book: Change the way you think about change. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Huffington, A. S. (2014). Thrive: The third metric to redefining success and creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder (First edition.). New York: Harmony Books.

Kapp, K. M. (2014). The gamification of learning and instruction fieldbook: Ideas into practice. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

McChrystal, G. S. (2014). My share of the task: A memoir (Reprint edition.). Portfolio Trade.

McFarland, W. (2014). Choosing change: How leaders and organizations drive results one person at a time. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Pollock, R. V. H. (2014). The field guide to the 6Ds: How to use the six disciplines to transform learning into business results: Tips, tools, case studies, and practical advice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Quinn, C. N. (2014). Revolutionize learning & development: Performance and innovation strategy for the information age. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass & Pfeiffer.

Terwelp, W. (2009). Rock your network for job seekers: How to rebuild your network in 5 minutes a day online and off.

The Huffington Post complete guide to blogging. (2008) (1st Simon & Schuster Paperback ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

I will report out on each of these as I finish them. It looks like my summer reading list is full. In the meantime, here is how my conference went.


After taking time to visit family and friends in Tunkhannock, PA. I made my way to Washington, DC. I took a room in Jessup, MD, and had to commute back and forth to DC. It provided me with an opportunity to experience commuting, even for a short period. I do agree that you have to be in the right mindset to be a relaxed commuter. Saturday night, I met up with Kaye Ebelt, the Rocky Mountain Region Director of Aerospace Education for the Civil Air Patrol. We had an opportunity to put together plans for doing more online training with aerospace education officers and aerospace education members. I also showed her how to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in support of her work. I look forward to her first sessions online.


On Sunday, I attended my first sessions. Always looking for ideas to provide better instruction or improve learning with an informal learning slant, I settled in on three presentations for the day: Four Ways to use Curation in Learning; Brief is Beautiful: Bite-size Content and the New E-learning; and Maximizing Informal Learning’s Impact: A New Approach to Instruction Design. While I will write on each of these presentations in more depth, they did provide me with ideas that I hope to leverage in the support of Extension and Civil Air Patrol. These lesson ideas include:

  • Continue to curate content by collecting it, organizing it, making sense of it through blog posts or other mechanisms, and sharing it back out for the benefit of others. Also continue to encourage others to be curators because as educators they are mostly there.
  • Creating instructional content in small specific parcels that focus on one topic. This helps attend to the mobile learners and short opportunities to learn. The technique referenced is called “thin slicing.” I will attempt to develop courses based on this thin slicing technique.
  • “It is not about how much they learn but it is how much they use.” ~ Michael Leimbach, Ph.D.

In the evening, I had an opportunity to Never Eat Alone and dine with Will Stewart. We just caught up from the last time we saw each other. Will was a martial arts student of mine when I lived in Geneva, NY.


After a lovely early morning commute, I arrived in time to watch the keynote speaker, Arianna Huffington. She spoke about the importance to take time for yourself so you do not burn out. Before I talk about the keynote address, Tony Bingham, the CEO of ASTD addressed the crowd. He stressed the importance of change. He did so by highlighting three companies who no longer exist because they did not adapt. Bingham noted that top companies must adapt and change because of technological advancements, demographics, and global markets. Organizations must embrace change, and learning is at the heart of change.

Huffington began by talking about the key metrics to life: money and power. However, she wants to add a third – well-being. When we take care of ourselves, we will be much more effective. We will be better able to handle change. We will be able to see new opportunities. She stressed the importance of being well rested. She noted that most of her mistakes occurred when she was tired. Huffington also advocated for setting a period of time during the day when you are not connected to digital devices. It gives your mind an opportunity to relax and sort out information. She stressed removing the devices from sight. Burnout is not the way to success.

Right after the keynote session, I met up with Valerie Noll and Joan Maddux. We first met in a research project that occurred in and around World of Warcraft. We were members of the guild called the Azeroth Training Society. It is always fun to see them and catch up.

On Monday, I also attended these sessions: The Coolest Adobe Captivate Tips on the Planet; Everyday employee or entrepreneur? Bridge the Gap in 5 steps; and Training Project Management – Tools and Techniques for Active Engagement. The intent was to pick up some new strategies and techniques related to different tools I am using as well as better ways to maximize my time. Two of the sessions felt more like infomercials. They seemed to hold back key points in an effort for you to buy their wares. I hope this is not the trend of the future.

In the evening, I took the opportunity to not eat alone and had dinner with Lindsey and Dan Brounstein. I met this couple also while teaching martial arts in upstate New York. It seems that a lot of my dining buddies are related to the Bujinkan.


Tuesday began with a fantastic presentation by General Stan McChrystal. While this video is not from ASTD, it does give you an idea of the speaker that General McChrystal is.

During the keynote, McChrystal focused on change and the impact of change on the organization. He spoke about the importance to embrace change. He noted that organizations prefer the status quo and do not like change. However, if you do not adapt to change, the organization will expire. He talked about the problems with hierarchical organization structures especially when change is rapid. The organization cannot adapt quick enough. There has to be a different way for informing and running the organization. McChrystal also shared a great quote from Herb Brooks.

“The business world must produce more leaders, not managers. Leadership is all about change, and all about the process of transforming organizations so that creativity and innovation are encouraged and can thrive. Good management is not enough by itself. There is a distinction. Managing is taking care of what has already been created. Leadership is, on the other hand, moving forward to create something new. Not all managers are leaders. Leaders tell us not what is, but what can be.” -Herb Brooks

During the day, I attended these sessions: Building Your Company Tribe: Engaging Employees through Online Collaboration; Show your Work: The New Knowledge Management; and Getting serious about elearning: The Serious elearning manifesto. I really enjoyed the first two sessions, they provided me more information on how to deliver continuous instruction or learning to an organization through thin sliced courses and curation. The serious elearning manifesto focused on, well, the manifesto. It was not a presentation that I was expecting; however, I believe it is important.

In the evening, I took an opportunity to conduct a training session with the Columbia Buyu Dojo. This was followed by a dinner with Leonard Pollard, a martial friend of over 15 years.

Over the span of an evening, ASTD changed their name to the Association for Talent Development. What was really impressive was that ASTD rebranded and put out new signage to ATD in the course of an evening.

ATD Signage
ATD Signage


With new buzz about the name change and refocused organizational mission, my day began. My learning for this day addressed other topics of interest; mapping organizational training needs and competency-based mastery. To meet these interest needs, I attended: Web-based Career Pathing at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; and Bridging the Workforce Skills Gap Through Competency-Based Higher Education. I got a lot from these presentations that I feel will help develop a program for the University of Wyoming Extension. I had an opportunity to talk with Paul LeBlanc, the President of Southern New Hampshire University. They are doing interesting things with competency-based learning in higher education.

After these sessions, I took a trip to meet up with a fellow martial artist, Richard Young. We trained together in Wyoming, but he moved and is living in Pennsylvania. Together, we traveled to New Jersey to train with one of my instructors, Jack Hoban. It is always an opportunity I enjoy.

Next Steps

So where does this lead me. First of all, I need to figure out a way to engage more with the Extension educators in Wyoming. I plan to start attending their area meetings to look for opportunities. Secondly, I also believe in the importance of working out loud, so I am developing a knowledge management system for Wyoming Extension so we can do a better job of sharing information vital to the organization. I believe this is a conditioning step so that they will begin curating and sharing outside the organization. Additionally, I will continue to curate and share as I have been with some tweaks along the way. I need to figure out how to use this curating and sharing as a way to help the organization learn. I will share my ideas as I develop them. Finally, I will begin to develop courses for the organization that leverage thin slicing, competency-mastery, and badging. To learn more, you can look at my trip report.

I plan to expand on my trip and the previous trips over the next week. If there is something you want me to focus on, please let me know.