Two weeks ago, having barely digested our Thanksgiving meals, Chris Tompkins, Brian Miller, and I attended I/ITSEC 2023 in Orlando. If you are not familiar, I/ITSEC stands for Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference and caters largely to the US Department of Defense, federal contractors, and vendors offering solutions to the aforementioned. It’s also a room full of eLearning standards nerds, in case you were already starting to ask yourself “why was Rustici there?” It’s a valid question, but when you start to understand the origins of the eLearning standards, Rustici’s participation in their evolution, and the context of their application, it starts to make sense.

So what’s it like?

Imagine a massive room full of the latest and greatest in simulation-based training. We’re talking immersive AR/VR/XR experiences, flight simulators, combat simulators, field medical simulators, some of the coolest wearable tech around. But, that is just the expo hall. In the sprawl of the Orange County Convention Center, you’ll find sessions on everything from migrating SCORM content to cmi5 to learning analytics and data strategy, and of course… AI. My point is that there is a massive amount of information to absorb and synthesize, and for anyone interested in the future of training, I/ITSEC is an all you can eat buffet.

So really, why was Rustici there?

First, it might be helpful to know that you won’t find Rustici exhibiting at I/ITSEC. We have in the past, but in reality it is way more beneficial for us to walk around meeting with our customers and attending sessions. Our very own Brian Miller hosted a tutorial, Modernize Your Training by Migrating Legacy SCORM Content to cmi5, on day one of the conference. This was a pretty proud moment for us as this was the third consecutive year Brian has been accepted as an I/ITSEC speaker and even wrote and presented a paper on cmi5 with ADL in 2021. This year, Brian was asked by the committee to submit another intro to cmi5 tutorial proposal, signaling that cmi5 is on the DoD’s radar and attendees are interested in learning more about the specification.

For the remainder of the week, Brian was able to attend a number of other sessions, gaining valuable insights into how the rest of this world talks and thinks about training and the eLearning standards. Meanwhile, Chris and I roamed the expo hall…

Why is it important for Rustici to be in the room?

I/ITSEC is an important conference for us to attend for a few reasons. For one, we’ve been going for a long time. It was my first time, but for Chris this made 10 years attending the conference. There are reasons Chris keeps showing up, that Brian keeps signing on for speaking engagements, and that I plan to go for many years to come.

  1. Standards Advancement: The DoD is the reason that SCORM exists, and it’s the reason that standards and specifications, like cmi5, are being talked about. The DoD has a massive stake in the adoption of said standards and their place in the training ecosystems of tomorrow, and Rustici Software has been an integral part of that process.
  2. Customer Interaction: Rustici Software has worked with government entities, primarily the DoD, since 2005. I/ITSEC 2023 is a great chance for us to chat with these customers face to face and learn more about the unique challenges they face. It’s not just about customers though. We have a lot of friends in that room that share very similar objectives and are interested in the same things.
  3. Understanding What’s Next: I/ITSEC is full of some impressive, advanced tech. The irony of it all is that alongside this tech may sit a decades old eLearning standard, or a group of people trying to wrangle a decade old standard (xAPI), to make the most of their training. At times, I/ITSEC feels like a journey through the past, present, and future (insert timely A Christmas Carol reference here) as we reflect on where the standards have been and where they are going.

Okay, wrap it up Cameron

The truth is, my I/ITSEC experience is hard to sum up in one blog post. There is much to talk about in this space. All I can say is that if you are interested in the convergence of the private and public sector, immersive tech in the training industry, and/or the elearning standards, please come hangout with us at I/ITSEC 2024. And if that’s a little too far away, we’re always here to chat about eLearning standards.

Cameron Gray is a builder. At work, he builds relationships with clients, including many of Rustici Software's government clients, as a Client Success Manager. At home, he builds furniture which has been anything from a coffee table to a record console.