Going to conferences is always a great experience.
Getting to connect with friends and putting faces to names from your network is always fun. Not to mention the opportunities to learn something new. With the advent of social media and other assorted technologies, there is ALWAYS something new to learn. This year at Learning Solutions in Orlando, not only did I get an opportunity to warm up, but I attended a great session regarding the creation of infographics. Lots of potential there for creating quick resource documents or even learning aids. So, thank you to Bianca Woods at @egeek for facilitating a great session. I really did learn something new!
My point here, is I came to conference with an open mind – I went to sessions I was curious about, and knew would build my knowledge. Which is why it never ceases to amaze me to hear people say, especially L&D people, that they didn’t learn anything, “I didn’t get anything” out of this conference. Really? Wow. By my math there were 170 sessions (not counting pre-conference certifications) to attend over 2.5 days. You couldn’t find anything, nothing to get excited about? Not really a curious learner if you ask me.
I even managed to learn something in my own session, (or at least have a realization): “Starting Your Own Learning Rebellion” #LSCon session #609. The good thing about conferences is that if you don’t like a session, you can get up and find another one. No one is locked in. Any experienced presenter knows to expect a certain amount of walk-outs. What I learned is that I can set a clock by my walk-outs. It’s when we get to the part of the session where we discuss change being hard, about having the courage to do the right thing by the learners in an organization, and then balancing that need with the needs of the business. I start off the session usually with the same question. “Who here feels like they are an ‘order-taker’?” and then “Who here is tired of being an ‘order-taker’?” Most people raise their hand, then about 20 minutes later we get into the conversation about you needing to take responsibility for the change and that’s when people leave. Interesting. One can chalk up leaving into 3 categories: 1) the session really isn’t for them/the topic is not what they expected. 2) They don’t like me, or my presentation style or 3) They wanted a quick fix.
Most often it’s #3. Sure, at the end of the session we talk tools to help and support your new way of thinking, but it is a new way of thinking. One has to tackle the mindset first, one has to WANT to change a mindset. Oh, I can give you lists of tools to use, but tools don’t work without the proper mindset behind them. What I continue to learn when presenting this session is that some people get energized by the thought of tackling something new. Others are afraid, and this makes me afraid for the future of our industry. There are a lot of people, who in certain circles, will smile and nod, but do nothing to move the needle once back at home. Those are the scariest people of all. Those are the people who are really the barriers to change. I can handle and respect those people who want to challenge my philosophy but it’s the pretenders that hold us all back from real sustainable change. You not only have to commit to the change but be the change. Be the change you want to see. (But I digress).
Which is why at the end of my session, I tell people that leaving the room (or the conference) is the hard part. You’re leaving the cocoon. David Kelly put on a great session on how to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have posted the presentation on our Learning Rebels Facebook page here: XYZ. Having a support system is THE most important tool in your arsenal toward changing mindset and if you are unsure as to how to build or maintain a PLN, click on the link above.
Here are just a few tips for keeping your conference mojo.
- Find other like thinkers on twitter, find a person whose thoughts, philosophy and ideas you relate to, and follow them and follow who they follow.
- Use the backchannel for Learning Solutions to find out what was happening in the sessions you didn’t attend. Didn’t go to the conference? The back channel will make you feel like you were there. Find the backchannel by searching the twitter hashtag #LScon, contact David Kelly @LNDave
- If you were there, I’m sure you collected a business card or two – reach out to those people and continue the conversation.
- Read. Most of the speakers at the conference have blog sites. Find them, read and comment. Bloggers love interaction on their sites.
- You can find most of the presentations on slideshare. Go back through the presenters list on the website and run a search. Keep those presentations for motivation. On the Learning Solutions website is a link to all the resources. Do your research!
- Lastly, review your notes. Go back through your twitter feed – if you tweeted about it at the time, something spoke to you. Pay attention! Take action!
Next up on the conference tour – ASTD International Conference and Expo the first week of May in Washington DC. I hope to see you all there, and we all learn something together.
What’s new with Learning Rebels!
Thought I would take a moment to update everyone on some new and exciting things with the Learning Rebels – we hope you think they are exciting too!
- Slideshare Series – Based on the response from the Accidental Trainer Topic, Learning Rebels has created a Learning Rebel series. Every two weeks a new presentation will be posted with thoughts and tips to help you grow the Learning Rebel inside of you. Part one can be found here: Learning Rebel Series Part 1
- Learning Rebels Facebook Page – We are SUPER excited about this! Please join us now on facebook. This area allows us to post information that is not only Learning Rebel related, but information we feel you would enjoy from an L&D perspective from colleagues and peers we feel are influential in field. Please come and visit, we hope you like us. If you have any suggestions or comments shout it out. Click here: Learning Rebels Facebook Page
- InsyncBytes – Learning Rebels will be hosting a free webinar on InSyncBytes on April 28th. “Building Your Own Revolution” Tips and Tools to help you out. More information about registering click here.
- Pinterest – Check us out here. A collaborative board has been created to share information we thought would help others in the learning community. A variety of people contribute to the board so you will see a variety of cool information from design tips to teaching ideas. Check it out here: Creative Learning Board
urbie delgado says
Thoughtful post, but it’s missing something significant. Gaining knowledge is okay. But given how quickly people forget it’s unlikely their oh’s and aha’s will translate into a meaningful gain in productivity when the get back to work. I think conference sessions need to end with a call to action, two actually. 1. Do something with what you learned asap. 2. Put the something you produced with what you learned somewhere for your peers to critique it. Doing so you’re more likely to retain the knowledge and add to your skill-set while transferring know-how to your personal learning network (PLN).
Shannon Tipton says
Urbie – Great comment, and you’re right on target. The ASTD ICE conference is all over that, and in the materials they give you there is a page asking you to reflect on what was learned and write out how you are going to apply that knowledge once back in the workplace. I agree that writing these goals down is a key first step, however, almost most importantly, is discussing these goals with your learning network, your coworkers, or your friends over a cold one. There is something about sharing your plan with others that really lights a fire. Which is why at the end of my session, I ask others to connect with others in the room and enthusiastically give my information to the group. That is how the industry will grow, innovate and improve. I am completely on board with you – we just can’t “rah, rah” through the conference and then do nothing upon return to our work spaces. Be the change.