Monday, January 11, 2016

TechKnowledge 2016 - Where am I going to be?

It's TechKnowledge time again and this one is going to be a bit different for me as I've headed in early for my very first pre-con workshop (It's the Duarte Visual Storytelling one and so far it's been amazing!). On one hand, I'm pretty giddy about the workshop, but on the other hand it's an extra two days in Vegas. Is it possible for me to get even sicker of Vegas by the end of a conference? I don't know... but we're going to find out!

This conference is also going to be a bit different for a programming reason too. There's an entire room at TechKnowledge devoted to more conversational, collaborative sessions - the Disrupt Room - and my plan is to attend as many of those sessions as possible (including, no surprise, the two sessions I'm helping out with). I really enjoyed last year's Fail Jam and the Disrupt Room programming promises more of that same kind of "learning from everyone in the room" that made the Fail Jam so fun. So if you're at TechKnowledge and looking for something a bit different, definitely come join me there.

And now on to the specifics. I don't have my whole con fully figured out, but I'm definitely heading to the keynotes and these sessions:


Speakers: Well, it's a group conversation but I'm facilitating

Yup... I'm starting out my Disrupt Room adventure by facilitating a session. The main idea of this event is that a great way to keep your work fresh is to look for inspiration OUTSIDE of L&D. That said, a lot of us look in dramatically different directions. While the session is going to be guided by the interests of the people in the room, it's definitely going to touch on what fields people find particularly helpful to pull inspiration/insights from, what they've gained from them, and how you can dip your toe in each topic if you want to learn more.

What's particularly cool about this session (and many of the other Disrupt Room ones) is that it doesn't have a set speaker or formal panel. Instead, anyone who shows up has the opportunity to share with everyone else. It's a format that worked fantastically for the Fail Jam and I think it's a great format for this topic as well.

So if you get inspiration from ANY other field, whether it's something closely tied to L&D (for instance, software development or film making) or drastically different (gaining L&D inspiration from flying drones or being a volunteer fire fighter? I bet it can be done!), I'd love to see you at this session and hear what you have to say.

Speaker: Me!

SPEAKING of outside inspiration, if you've ever met me or followed me online you probably know that I love comics. They're fun and engaging to read, and it turns out they can be pretty effective for teaching and explaining content too. Want to know more? Watch my session trailer.

Speakers: Diane Elkins, Megan Torrance, Julie Dirksen, Connie Malamed, Cammy Bean, and me

You know what can be really helpful when you're trying to polish up a project (or get it unstuck)? A fresh set of eyes. And that's what the e-Learning checkup is all about. Bring your project, whether it's something fully built or just an idea you've been pondering, and you'll get some one-on-one time with one of the six of us to get some feedback and come up with a few new ideas.

While I'm happy to help out with anyone's project, I'll admit that I'm probably most useful to people who have graphic design, storytelling, or multimedia questions. Or cupcake-related questions. I have a lot of options about those too.  ;)


Speaker: JD Dillon is facilitating this one

Curious about what some of the newer social collaboration tools out there are (and how you might actually use them in the real world to get stuff done)? Then some to this session to see cool examples and ask all the questions you need about how they work.

Speaker: Becca Wilson is facilitating this event again!

Like I mentioned earlier, last year's version of this session was one of my ATDTK 2015 highlights. Basically, it works like this: we all know failure is a great way to learn, but it's not something we get to share a lot at conferences. This session is your opportunity to learn from the mistakes and missteps of others and even to share your own too. That's right, this is another session where anyone who attends can share, and I strongly recommend sharing something if you come. The environment is completely supportive... plus getting to talk about something that didn't go the way you wanted is delightfully cathartic.

Speakers: Chad Udell and John Fairchild

Ever wonder how you might actually go about using virtual and/or augmented reality for learning and performance support? Ever wanted to just poke the technology with a stick and see what the fuss is all about? Then this is the session for you. Not only will there be a discussion of the applications for this technology, but you'll also be able to get hands on with it too!


Session: PowerPoint for Graphic Design
Speaker: Tim Slade

I use PowerPoint for graphic design all the time (ah, the joys of often having little or no project budget!), so I'm hoping to pick up a few tips. Plus, Tim Slade is always sharing awesome design stuff on Twitter, so I'm looking forward to getting to see him speak in person.

So that my game plan so far. What are you most excited to see or do at TechKnowledge this year?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

IPL Conference 2015 - My big takeaways

Well, this post is LONG overdue. I attended the 2015 Institute for Performance and Learning conference here in Toronto way back in November, but the last month and a half kind of got away from me. A bit late is better than nothing, right?

Rather than try and blog about every single thing I saw individually, I thought I'd instead do something a bit different this time: a summary post about the best parts of the conference that have stuck with me even a month and a half later.

Nir Eyal's Keynote
Eyal's talk on how habits are built (and how to influence people's habit building) was delightful AND insightful. It pretty much hit all my buttons for a great keynote at a L&D conference: technically out of our field but on a topic strongly connected to what we do, a great balance of enough information to understand the topic but not so much that it felt like an infodump, excellent storytelling, a good sense of humour, and well-designed slides. I would definitely want to see him give a talk again if I had the opportunity. He also completely convinced me that I need to buy his book, so I suppose that's a win for both of us.

Sad you couldn't see the keynote yourself? Well, this video seems to have the same talk filmed at another event, so that's a pretty decent option for you. Also, hooray for YouTube!

Trend: Lego slides
Yeah... I've seen slides that use Lego before, but never so many used so well all at the same conference. This is a trend I feel I can totally stand behind (well, at least while people keep using them smartly). At some point it's going to become overdone (and poorly done), but for now I'm just going to keep enjoying it.

Gotta love this!
Trying to attend a conference while sick is the worst
I've gotten Con Plague after a conference, but never before it. To say attending a con while sick is a challenge is a massive understatement (as was trying to desperately keep from infecting others... sadly, no conference hugs and handshakes for me). Thankfully, my body at least picked a hometown conference to feel horrid at, so there's one small win there, right? That said, there were more than a few events I ended up needing to skip, which wasn't ideal for my first time attending this particular conference.

FINALLY getting to see certain speakers
I've had some pretty crummy scheduling luck with certain L&D speakers. For some reason there have always been a few people I either always end up having my sessions scheduled at the same time as (Hi JD!) or other people that always have their talks opposite of six other things I need to see in that time slot. I guess to make up for me being pathetically ill, the universe decided to do me a solid this time around and I got to see two people talk that I usually never get to see: Jane Bozarth and Aaron Silvers. No surprise, they were both fun and engaging speakers, so that was a big win as far as I'm concerned.

Hallway meetings
As I go to more and more conferences, the thing that's becoming the most valuable to me is simply the conversations I have with other attendees. Actually getting to meet Twitter buddies in MeatSpace (AKA: the real world), making connections with new people, and chatting with all of them about what they're doing is what tends to stick with me the most weeks later. Plus, it's just plain fun.

So, no surprise, this was definitely my favorite part about the IPL conference. While I always love catching up with everybody, this particular location gave me a chance to chat with a ton of Canadian L&D folks. You'd think that since I live in the same country as them I'd see them in real life more often... yeah... that's sadly not how it turns out. And sometimes we don't all go to the same conferences in the US either. So attending IPL became an amazing opportunity to connect with people I don't regularly get to see. That was a nice surprise I hadn't considered.

So those were my thoughts about my very first IPL conference. If you attend or followed the backchannel and have some of your own reflections, pop them down in the comments below!