Reflections on #DevLearn: Jill Blaser on Building an eLearning Community at DevLearn

Welcome to the Reflections on #DevLearn blog series, where we invite members of the eLearning Guild Community to share there thoughts on the DevLearn Conference and Expo, including what they learned and what they took away from the event.

BlaserToday we welcome Jill Blaser, design and development manager at VGM Education , as she shares why the building of a personal elearning community begins at DevLearn.

First-time attendees and people who view themselves as amateurs in the eLearning community are a valuable part of the DevLearn experience. Their questions give more experienced eLearning professionals the opportunity to share knowledge and expand their community.

My first year at DevLearn three years ago is still a blur. I was new to eLearning — and by new, I mean until two years prior I had never even heard the term eLearning. I muddled through teaching myself design and anything and everything related to eLearning. But already I was in deep, absolutely smitten, totally in love with eLearning.

So there I was at DevLearn, overwhelmed by the people, concepts, and technology that surrounded me. In my mind, I knew nothing about eLearning when compared to every other attendee. That was my first DevLearn rookie mistake: comparing myself to everyone else.

Swimming in a sea of eLearning experts, session after session, I didn’t even know for sure what a “smee” was. My confidence was low and I was certain that I had the least eLearning knowledge in the room – every session—and that everyone else had worked in eLearning for at least 10 years, had graduate degrees, or both.

But when I put myself out there and starting asking questions, I found a community that embraced me exactly where I was in my professional journey. There was a seemingly limitless group of people willing to guide me and answer questions, no matter how simple. They invited me into a new world of theory, technology, and tools.

And this community didn’t stop when I left the conference: my list of new contacts offered their time and knowledge year round and helped push me towards excellence.

DevLearn keynote speaker Natalie Panek instructed us to embrace failure and surround ourselves with a team to help us work through it. The eLearning Guild community is that team to me. When I struggle, I know there are people in this community with knowledge they are willing to share and that they will guide me through each failure. We will also celebrate each other’s successes.

There is nothing I look forward to more than DevLearn. It’s not just the learning, I get to see my people. Every year, I feel less overwhelmed and more like I fit in. This year I realized that I was the one confidently saying “smee” and knowing that it’s the same as an SME. Many of the practices discussed aligned with what I’m doing in my current work. The experts that seemed so far above me now reinforce what I’m doing. What a gratifying feeling. Yes, I can do this! I do fit in here. There is a place for me in this community.

Interested in sharing your reflections on this year’s DevLearn? Contact David Kelly for details!

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