How Pre-Conference Programs Enhance My Conference Experiences

Industry conferences are one of my favorite resources for professional development. They are an opportunity to step away from our day-to-day workplace responsibilities (as much as we can) and to immerse ourselves fully into our field, and our professional development. I love conferences as they give me the chance to network and share with peers, I learn about changes that will impact my work, and I have the opportunity to strengthen and enhance my skill set.

Devlearn PreCon

There are always certain topics that I’m especially interested in learning more about. These topics may be driven by a workplace project, or they may simply be a personal learning desire. I usually target sessions in these topics when I plan my agenda. When possible though, I will usually look for an opportunity to take a “deeper dive” into these topics, and a great way to do that is by attending a pre-conference program.

I find pre-conference programs to be an excellent resource for a number of reasons.  For one, a full-day workshop provides a much more detailed exploration on a topic than is possible during a traditional conference session. Pre-conference programs are also a great way of saving money, as they capitalize on existing travel expenses related to the conference. I always found it easier to get approval for a pre-conference program (as part of an already-approved conference registration) than it was to get approval for a separate isolated workshop.

2012-10-30 12.11.43While the actual structured learning from a pre-conference program is of tremendous value to me, I also find other valued side-benefits. One of my favorites is the relationships that are formed in the program. Strong connections can be built during a full-day pre-conference program, and those relationships carry over to and can help you get more from the full conference. Some of the strongest professional relationships I have today started in a pre-conference program.

I think the main reason I like attending pre-conference programs is the wide selection of industry leaders these sessions give you have access to. Consider the pre-conference certificate programs at this year’s DevLearn 2013 Conference and Expo, which includes a host of leading industry experts, including:

  • Kevin Thorn (Visual Design)
  • Koreen Olbrish Pagano (Immersive Learning)
  • Ron Price (Articulate Storyline)
  • Julie Dirksen (User Experience Design)
  • Karl Kapp & Sharon Boller (Designing Learning Games)
  • Lance Dublin (Developing your Learning Strategy)
  • Clark Quinn (mLearning)
  • Mike Hruska & Neil Lasher (Experience API)

These are just a few of over 20 different pre-conference programs available at DevLearn. With each one exploring a different topic, it’s likely you’ll find something that interests you and/or applies to your work.  The opportunity to allocate time towards professional development at a conference is extremely valuable, and we should always be looking at ways to make it as productive as possible.  Pre-conference programs offer a great way to enhance and extend your conference experience, and shape what’s next for your professional development.

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