Nick Floro is a speaker at Learning Solutions 2019, a Guild Ambassador, and has come to the conference numerous times. In this guest post he shares his thoughts on what activities he likes to prioritize to get the most out of his conference experience.
I’ve been attending Learning Solutions for several years, and it’s one of my favorite conferences of the year. One of my everyday challenges is working with stakeholders to understand a particular learning challenge and how to create the best fit for a specific problem. Learning Solutions provides the perfect blend of topics to help me keep up to date, understand other similar designers and developers are doing in their fields and where I need to plan and focus for the upcoming months. This event provides amazing energy, between the community, the keynotes, and the conversations that take place to help me to re-energize, plan, and learn about new tools. The weather and magical places to visit add to need to visit each year.
Before the start of the main conference, I’ll attend one of the workshops that help to expand my skills and learn about something that we may consider adopting in an upcoming project. This provides an excellent opportunity to dive in and focus on 1-2 days where you can dive into a particular subject and learn and apply to your next project. From techniques, to design, to specific tools, there are so many great workshops available.
Each morning, before the start of each conference day, I highly recommend checking out one of several Morning Buzz topics which provide the opportunity to participate in a community discussion on hot topics, issues, or strategies for moving forward personally, professionally, or with your organization. I love hearing colleagues discussing and sharing what is working, what tools they’re using, and strategies on how they are approaching new challenges. The key to this is that there is a facilitator that helps drive the conversation, but the community (that’s us) creates the buzz, does the sharing, and steers the discussion.
Attending the Keynotes each day provides another fantastic burst of creativity and provides a simple way to think outside of our normal workflow. Each year I look forward to hearing each story and thinking about how I can apply it back to what we are doing.
At the end of the second day of the conference, the magic continues after the sessions where you can attend DemoFest. This has been described as a science fair, and I love the visual because it’s breathtaking to see, hear, and participate in. You can see 40+ examples of learning from simple solutions to complex but what I love is hearing each participants story, the buzz of the attendees, and learning what worked or what didn’t within the particular organization. There is so much sharing; it’s an invaluable opportunity to see, hear, and learn about how our peers are creating the learning that is helping thousands of learners every day.
One of my main goals for sessions are the case studies which provide the opportunity to learn about real experiences, which share how a particular solution was created and how it helped the targeted audience. Learning about the tools, challenges, and how a project evolved provides a great way to think about new techniques, avoid missteps, and get ideas for new ideas or concepts that you can apply on your next project. I will also look at attending 1-2 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) sessions where you can try to build or create using a new tool or one that may be on your to-do list to master this year.
Make sure you clear your work schedule and make time to attend all of the opportunities that are available at Learning Solutions. Be sure to introduce yourself to a peer, ask what they do, how they do it, what is their biggest obstacle or on their to-do list as well as what did they learn that day and plan to share as well.
I believe planning and investing in yourself also helps to keep your work fresh, creativity and pushes you to create amazing learning experiences. One way I have found to help spread the energy when the whole team is not able to attend is to take photos, notes, and share with the community via Twitter, the mobile app, and then with my group and organization after the conference.
I also strongly encourage you to reach out to the eLearning Guild and learn about speaking, sharing, and participating in the community.