Sunday, November 4, 2012

DevLearn 2012: Final thoughts

DevLearn 2012 is over and I'm finally back home in the frozen tundra that is Toronto, Canada. Okay, it's not that bad, but it is awful in comparison to Vegas right now. While I go through learning withdrawal (yes, this is the nerdiest withdrawal out there. I'm more than okay with that), here are some final thoughts on the convention:

DevLearn is incredibly invigorating
I've never found anything else out there that leaves me as inspired and excited about my job as this conference. Most of the people who attend and/or speak at DevLearn are deeply passionate about that they do, and that passion is entirely infectious. Going to DevLearn recharges your creative batteries and pushes you to do even more than you're already doing in your career. That alone can be worth the cost of entry.

It will also sometimes be a bit depressing
Unless your employer has a massive training budget, you are going to see some things at DevLearn that you'd like do but can't afford to. This is entirely heartbreaking if you see something that would be an amazing fit for your learners.

Thankfully the inspiring outweighs the depressing though, and also there's a good chance you'll bump into some topic or product that will help you do something you previously thought you didn't have the budget/time/skills to pull off.

You'll leave the convention more energized than depressed, but there's a good chance that at least one thing you saw and can't currently do will hang with you long after you leave Vegas.

There is no way to see everything you want to
There will inevitably be multiple sessions that you want to attend that happen at the same time. That, and/or you won't have enough time to talk to every vendor you want to. It's an unfortunate reality that, unless you have a time machine, there will be things you want to see and can't. If you're traveling with co-workers, split off and report back to each other. If you're on your own, check the Twitter backchannel to see if anyone covered the session you couldn't attend. You can also check the DevLearn website to check if the speakers posted their slide deck after the fact.

People at DevLearn are, generally speaking, some of the nicest and most collaborative people you'll have the pleasure of meeting
Seriously... I am always blown away by how fantastic the people who come to this convention are.

If you are attending DevLearn by yourself, Twitter can be your best friend
Last year I attended the conference with a co-worker and had a fantastic time. This year it was just me on my own though, which isn't ideal for a shy extrovert like me (yes, I'm aware that's a bizarre combination).

Here's where the Twitter backchannel came in handy. Since I didn't have anyone to chat with next to me about the sessions, I started chatting online with people who were posting interesting/amusing/funny things using the DevLearn hashtag. That led to meeting up with several of them in person, which made the convention substantially more fun to attend.

In general, using Twitter and the DevLearn hashtag can be a great way of finding people with similar interests/job roles/areas of focus to you, which is part of what going to a conference is all about, right?

If you are Tweeting non-stop on a tablet or phone without a keyboard, you may injure yourself
Yeah, so that happened.

My hands, wrists, and elbows are not terribly impressed with me right now. I probably need to buy keyboard attachements for my devices for next year.

The Jean Philippe patisserie in the casino level of the Aria is mindblowingly good

Vegas is WEIRD
Case in point, here are some things I saw during my last 2 trips:

This is NOT food!

Umm, can I avoid the gunfight altogether?

They were not joking about this.

These are not the slot machines you are looking for.

Go home Mario & Luigi! You are DRUNK!

In short...
DevLearn continues to be worth the considerable time and expense to go to. I definitely wish it wasn't in Vegas, but what can you do?

Will I go next year? If work pays for it, definitely. If work won't pay for it... well, it's a lot of money but I'd definitely consider it.

But now... now comes the hard part: actually executing the amazing ideas from the convention.

Edit: In case you're interested, here's a link to all the available downloadable DevLearn resources. Enjoy !


  1. We just KILLED ourselves laughing at the Mario/Luigi caption. Great to meet you! And I get the whole shy extrovert thing....being an outgoing introvert myself. Win. :)

    1. Awesome to meet you too! Always good to find the fellow geek girls at a conference. :)