Written by:

Holly Macdonald


November 12, 2014

Having returned from my first ever DevLearn, it seemed appropriate to capture some rambling reflections and share them. As with any large conference there are some ups and downs, and for those of you considering attending a DevLearn in the future, here are a few of my main take-aways (and pieces of advice for the future).

  1. Twitter and my PLN made it a much less intimidating affair than if I went “cold”. Heck, I even had a roommate lined up ahead of time. It also meant the entire conference was more social than it would have been without that existing network. The conversation would also meander through personal and professional topics. My PLN would also connect me to their network, so I was quickly introduced to many people at the conference. This also happened in the expo, where community managers already knew you and greeted you like old friends. I think conference going has changed dramatically with the evolution of social media.
  2. The app/backchannel – I enjoyed commenting on sessions and sharing them as tweets, but I didn’t realize until afterwards that the app wasn’t adding the hashtag, which I thought it would and to tag someone in the app, you put a space between their first and last name, which would then tweet that info, so a bunch of non-DevLearn people were inadvertently tweeted and probably wondered what the heck was going on. The other factor was the “noise” that was generated by people who were pursuing points to get their swag. So, it worked, but had a few challenges.
  3. Themes: responsive design, interactive video, gamification and xAPI. These seem like the themes or trends we’ve been dabbling in for the past few years. What got me excited? Adapt is looking like a good tool to get your hands on for responsive design.
  4. Demofest – I was really looking forward to this portion of the conference, but boy was I overwhelmed by it! Midway through the conference, at the end of a full day, it was hard to keep the energy up. I flip flopped between looking at the coolest options (using tools that I would never use) and looking at solutions that would be within the realm of my possibilities. I’m not sure I retained enough to learn from these. I would love to hear from veterans how they use this part of the conference. I feel like I could have done a better job preparing and circulating. Check out the best of in the elearning guild webinar.
  5. Conference sessions – these were hit and miss – something that isn’t limited to DevLearn. My experience is that there’s a lot of emphasis put on the session proposal and little on how well they deliver on this. Basically if you get poor feedback, you’d probably not be welcomed back. If I’m paying to go to a conference, especially in today’s day and age, when all the sessions are recorded, shared, tweeted and covered, I’d like to know that the session delivery has been vetted. I saw lots of “presenting” and I think we can do better than that.

I do hope that someday they hold DevLearn somewhere besides Las Vegas as they have in the past. For me, it wasn’t the best “learning” environment. Too many bells and whistles for me. Although overall, it was a good experience and I’ll definitely attend another in the future. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to connect and share face to face with my PLN!

There’s a lot of other summary posts on DevLearn out there: