I remember the first time my family went to Disney World. A few days before we went, a friend asked “So what’s your plan?”. We replied with a puzzled look. Our plan pretty much consisted of showing up, and enjoying the entertainment that was available.
The problem with that, as we learned, is that there were way more entertainment options available than we could possibly take advantage of. There were multiple points during that trip where we didn’t know what to do next, because there were so many options. Worst of all, when we returned, we discovered there were a lot of great things we missed, simply because we didn’t plan ahead.
From that perspective, attending The eLearning Guild’s DevLearn Conference and Expo is like taking a trip to Disney World. At any given moment, there will be a great number of choices for attendees (and those following the backchannel from afar). Take some time and explore the program guides, and decide which sessions you would like to attend. Your plans will likely shift some during the conference, but having at least a loose plan as a starting point can greatly help you get more value for the conference, especially for 1st-time attendees.
The Program Guide is available online, and is broken down into sections: Keynotes, Certificate Programs, Featured Sessions, Concurrent Learning Activities, Learning Stages, DemoFest, DevLearn Junto, and Morning Buzz. In addition, the online program guide enables you to filter the sessions by specific tracks, including Instructional Design, LMS, mLearning, Tools & Technologies, UI/UX Design, Virtual Classroom and more.
The program guides are also a great resource to those following the backchannel feed remotely. The session descriptions provide an excellent backdrop against which to view the feed. If you review the guide ahead of time, you can have an expectation of what may be discussed, adding more context to the backchannel sharing.
One special tip I recommend for the those not attending the conference in person: make note of the keynote times. The keynotes are an especially valuable part of a backchannel. During the keynotes, almost all of the backchannel feed will be in sync, discussing the same presentation. When I am unable to attend a conference, I intentionally block out time on my calendar during the time period of keynote sessions. Reading the backchannel feed live and interacting with attendees there in person often feels like being in the room, despite the fact that I am sitting behind my desk on the opposite side of the country.
One last recommendation related to the program guides – If you have a smart phone or an iPad, download the conference app. It allows you to review the program guide right on your device. It’s always available for immediate reference, whether you’re sitting in a live session at the conference, or reading the backchannel at your desk back home.
The app is so much more than an electronic program guide though. It is an amazing resource to conference attendees while on site, and has great resources for those following the backchannel as well. It’s such a great resource that I won’t be discussing it any more here. One of my next posts will be fully dedicated to exploring the conference app and the value it can add to your conference experience.