There is a lot to take in at DevLearn. With the wide range of sessions and activities to check out, it’s not uncommon for people to feel both excited and a bit overwhelmed with their options, whether they’re new to the conference or have been coming for years.
To help you get ready, we’ve talked to experienced DevLearn speakers and eLearning Guild staff members about what they find helps them simplify their choices and get the most out of the conference.
Education Technology Specialist, Southlake Regional Health Centre
Take some time and plan out which sessions you'd like to attend. Be sure to choose a few sessions in each time slot so you have options should your plan or focus change throughout the week. It also helps to know what extra activities you want to attend (e.g., DemoFest, Hyperdrive, etc.)
Always feel free to leave a session, even in the middle of it. If it doesn't meet your needs, then you can move to one of the other options previously identified. It doesn't hurt the presenter's feelings, as they too want you to get the most out of DevLearn.
Also, network, network, network— don’t be shy. Say hello when you're waiting for a session to start. Ask someone at lunch what sessions they attended and what they learned. You’ll meet so many new colleagues to increase your learning and sharing with one another.
Chief NuggetHead and Owner, NuggetHead Studioz
I encourage you to use the conference app to connect with other first-time attendees. Connecting with others via the app takes the edge off of being overwhelmed and is a great way to link up and attend sessions together.
If you’re a first-time attendee, try taking advantage of how the Guild organizes sessions into tracks based on specific interests. There’s no way to attend all the sessions one is interested in, but focusing on one track to get started will at least put some mental “guard rails” in place to get started on the first day of the conference.
Morning Buzz rocks. It’s the presenters before they get coffee, before they put on polish. You’re jamming at 7:15 am and everyone in the room is both an expert and a learner. I love those sessions.
Principal Consultant, Cindy Huggett Consulting
I’d suggest an obvious but overlooked one… sit next to people in sessions and introduce yourself! If you’re not sure what to talk about, ask them how the conference is going for them so far. I see so many attendees who miss out on networking opportunities because they sit by themselves in sessions.
Founder, Learning Dojo
There are so many, but I always get a lot out of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) sessions. I get more out of trying things out then just listening. So, if you’re looking for hands-on experience, these sessions are a must.
Also, try to go to dinner with a group of people you don’t know. The chance to get one-on-one feedback from others doing what you do is very useful, and I’ve gotten very valuable feedback and helpful tips and tricks from those dinners.
Staff Writer/Editor, The eLearning Guild
Use the camera on your phone to snap photos of slides during presentations (if taking notes by hand, make a note of what you photographed), take photos of business cards you collected (you’ll lose the cards), and take group pictures of people you have lunch with or sit within sessions (get everyone’s permission first).
Make specific time to visit with specific exhibitors in the Expo. The Expo can be an education in itself, and most people in booths will help you, not pitch you, if you just ask the right questions. Consider having specific questions you want to ask them, and not just about their product.
Sr. Manager of Programming, The eLearning Guild
Don’t hesitate to engage a “blue shirt”, we love to talk and share. Several of us come from the industry too! If you have a question about selecting a session that meets your needs see David Kelly, Bianca Woods, or me. We’ll gladly help!
Do check out DemoFest, even if for a quick visit. It’s the only event like it in the industry. It features real people with real projects to share. It’s noisy, active, and very casual. It is THE event within the event for the best social and informal learning experience that’s guaranteed to inspire!
Sr. Manager of Programming, The eLearning Guild
Connecting with others at the event is likely one of the best things you’ll get out of your time here, and one of the best places to do that is on Twitter. True story: I actually didn’t “get” Twitter until I used it to connect with people at DevLearn 2012. Sign in (or create an account), check out what’s being shared with the conference hashtag #DevLearn, and contribute your own thoughts and reflections to the conversations.
Executive Vice President and Executive Director, The eLearning Guild
One of the reasons I love DevLearn is that no other event showcases the latest and greatest of learning and technology. Be sure to check out some of the newer technologies on display at the Expo, and consider trying out some of today’s cutting-edge virtual reality applications in the AR/VR Learning Lab.
In addition, make sure you connect with people at the conference. Networking may seem obvious, but the value of it is so great that you really need to be strategic about it. As great as DevLearn can be, the real value of attending resides in what you do AFTER the conference with what you learn. The relationships you form at the conference can be the foundation that keeps the DevLearn learning going all year round.