Interesting Things I Learned from DevLearn 2014

good-ideas-spread

Last week, there was a pretty large Learning Technology conference taking place in fabulous Las Vegas – DevLearn, hosted by eLearning Guild. Were you there?

I took away some good nuggets of information from this conference…I’m summarizing three of those nuggets, courtesy of some interesting people I know through Twitter:

 

1. Agile project management/development – Many Learning professionals are ditching traditional content development and project management methods in favor of Agile. I’ve been reading a lot about this lately, so I thought this post was an interesting, easy-to-implement strategy based on Agile methodology:

devlearn-tweet-1

 

 

2. Work smarter, not harder – A great part about conferences is walking away with poignant, shareable words of wisdom from passionate, like-minded professionals. This one resonated with me…why do we make things more complicated than they need to be?

devlearn-tweet-2

 

 

3. Naturally, the humor – First of all, can I get an amen for this particular slide?  When you get a group of L&D geeks in a room (brick-and-mortar or virtual), there will be war stories. There will be a splash of snark. There will be jokes. And, in Devlearn’s case, a breakout session with content created entirely from memes. (nicely done, @LnDDave – and thanks to @tracy_parish for sharing the tweet)

devlearn-tweet-3

 

 

So, here’s a little confession: I wasn’t there. You read that correctly – I did not attend DevLearn. Yet I feel like I learned several things. How? It’s all about the backchannel, baby. I saved the #devlearn hashtag as a stream in Hootsuite so I could follow along throughout the conference. I actually felt like I attended sessions along with a number of good people who faithfully tweeted interesting points throughout the conference. So, to all of you who contributed to the DevLearn Twitter stream, I thank you for providing such interesting commentary! (Bonus: Since I wasn’t in Vegas for the conference, I didn’t lose any money at the roulette table!)

I’ve mentioned before that people in our industry are often like the “cobbler’s children who have no shoes” when it comes to professional development. We spend our days creating an environment for others in our organizations to learn, collaborate and grow….but when it comes down to brass tacks, we sometimes neglect our own interests and development goals. Following an event’s Twitter stream (“backchannel”) or joining a Twitter chat can be a wonderful (not to mention, free) way to reap many of the benefits of networking and social collaboration, without the travel expense or time away from the office.

If you’re unable to attend a conference or event, check out their website – you will often see the official event hashtag prominently posted. Follow it – it’s the next best thing to being there!

For regular interaction, Twitter chats are a great way to connect with others. Here are a few active chats for Learning and Talent Development professionals to check out:

#lrnchat

#chat2lrn

#tchat

 

Your turn: What is your take on event hashtags? Do you follow/contribute to the backchannel at conferences? Use the comments to share your thoughts!

 

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How to Combat “Inspiration Overload” After a Conference

information overload

Fun fact about yours truly: I have the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors for my local chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD – formerly ASTD). Last week, I was able to attend the organization’s annual Chapter Leaders Conference (ALC), where I was also able to present a session. The conference, in a word, was fantastic. Our team walked away with so many ideas and plans to grow and progress our chapter…so many ideas, in fact, that it’s a bit overwhelming now that I’ve been back home for a few days.

Have you ever been to a conference, workshop or other event like that?

How do you harness that positive energy when you return to the hustle-bustle of the routines and responsibilities in the real world?

Well, here are three strategies to try:

1. Follow the backchannel.

Most conferences and events have a dedicated hashtag to categorize tweets and tweeters. This is a valuable resource to not only engage in the online conversation that is running in tandem throughout the live event, but you can favorite, retweet and curate your favorite ideas and resources to review and access afterward.

2. Connect with attendees.

Nowadays, it’s not just about collecting business cards to stuff in your Rolodex and forget about. Use the business cards to connect with like-minded people, session presenters and other interesting people via LinkedIn, Twitter, email and other channels. Follow up with questions. Continue conversations. Share resources. Hop on a Skype call to share ideas over a cup of coffee. If you’re lucky enough to be geographically close, actually meet up in person for that cup of coffee!

3. Put your notes and ideas in an obvious, accessible place.

For me, it’s my Moleskine notebook. If it’s in my notebook, then it goes with me just about everywhere. For you, whether it’s a Moleskine or Evernote (or whatever your notetaking tool/app of choice might be), use it when inspiration strikes. Make a to-do list with your action items – I typically don’t take a lot of notes in the conference-provided booklet/agenda, because I don’t always have that handy after the event. If it’s something I want to explore post-conference, I need to put it in a place I know I’ll look at it.

Several months ago, I wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about how to have a bad time at a conference. After last week’s ATD event, I can say the same ideas hold true. You get what you put into it, folks. If you are fortunate enough to be able to attend conferences – even every once in awhile – then take advantage of the opportunity to learn, grow professionally and connect with others in your industry. What a privilege that is!

Your turn: How do you get the most out of conferences and workshops? How do you apply what you’ve learned (and keep the inspiration alive!) after the event? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

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#OneSimpleThing – Who Ya Gonna Call?

#OneSimpleThing - Who Ya Gonna Call

(Admit it, you’ve got the song running through your head now, don’t you? #SorryNotSorry)

Happy Monday! Here is the second installment of the #OneSimpleThing series. In case you missed last week’s post, the purpose of this series is to spark creativity, kickstart new ideas, overcome burnout and focus on your own development. Whether you’re a trainer/facilitator, an instructional designer, HR professional, manager or in an entirely different field, I hope you find value!

This week’s focus: From whom can you learn something?

There is always a part of our role, company or industry that is a bit of a mystery. Maybe you just haven’t had much exposure to a certain part of your business. Maybe you’re curious about how another department operates, or how you can partner cross-functionally. Maybe you want to break down those dreaded silos. Maybe you’d like to get acquainted with your company’s CEO. Maybe there’s an industry leader in your area whose brain you’d love to pick.

The point?

We all know someone who knows something we’d like to learn more about. 

So, reach out! What’s stopping you? I promise, it’s not as tough as asking your 6th grade crush to the Valentine dance. Unless the person you have in mind is a total jerk, the chances are good that s/he will oblige your request to meet for coffee, lunch or just to sit down at the office to chat one day. Advice? People are busy (I’m sure you are too!), so be patient and mindful of others’ schedules. More advice? Pick up the check. Money well spent, I promise.

Through casual breakfasts, lunches, coffee runs and other meetups, I’ve become acquainted with some pretty incredible people. Some I’ve initiated, others have been requested by others. Regardless of who reached out first, I always walk away with a renewed energy for what I do. An idea that I want to implement or a topic I want to write about. I learn something. And the best part? I’m building stronger relationships with awesome people.

So your #OneSimpleThing challenge this week is to reach out to someone you know (or know from afar) who you could help you learn something. Ask that person to meet up sometime in the next few weeks.

 

Your turn: After you reach out to someone, check in by posting in the comments below. Who did you contact? What are you hoping to learn? And after you met with the person, how did it go?

 

Be kind – please share this post with your friends and followers!

 

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