What I Love About #DevLearn: Neil Lasher on The Untold Truth About DevLearn

To help celebrate the 10th Annual DevLearn Conference and Expo, we’ve invited members of the Guild community to share what they love about DevLearn, and why they return to the conference year after year.

Neil-LasherToday we welcome Neil Lasher, Senior Instructional Designer at FireEye, and Lead Docent at this year’s DevLearn, as he shares his thoughts about the conference.

DevLearn is for training and learning professionals who are leading or engaged in their organizations’ use of learning technologies… yada yada yada…

Of course that’s what they tell you on the site. They want you to attend don’t they? So let me tell you the real truth about DevLearn, the insider track…. Let me tell you what they don’t tell you, the things they keep secret, the things they don’t want you to know.

So… DevLearn is for training and learning professionals who are leading or engaged in their organizations’ use of learning technologies.

Seriously its true. They never told you a lie. They never tried to pull the wool over your eyes or sell you something you did not need. And Yes, DevLearn is something you need.

Here’s a story to back up my claim.

I had been attending an alternative US conference every year. I’m from the UK, and this was my only jaunt across the Atlantic to do what I called “recharging my batteries”. The other conference was getting very same old, same old, and I made this crazy decision to try out something called DevLearn. On Twitter some of the people I saw tweeting about Devlearn were the same people I had chatted to about learning for some time, but never met. I was excited to find a few of them were going to at the conference, which at the time was held in San Jose, California.

Do you know the way to San Jose? Well I can tell you it isn’t easy! Not from London. Nothing goes direct. So I decided to do something even crazier and flew to Las Vegas for the weekend and onto San Jose for the conference.

The day before the conference I arrived at this great hotel and knew nobody, I had no idea who was there for the conference – which is a challenge for every newbie and something we addressed a few years later by introducing the Docent Program. I walked up to the registration desk and stood in line behind this guy with a big beard getting his pass. It was Aaron Silvers, a Twitter connection; we became good friends from that point on. He introduced me to the ‘crowd’ and I was invited out for lunch with them. Since then we have done some great stuff together, including motorcycling into Death Valley and RedRock and Utah together. Even renting a house together for the week following DevLearn in the Las Vegas valley a couple of times.

So the first great thing about DevLearn that they don’t tell you – I made a great new set of really good friends. Value? Priceless!

To the conference. Don’t you just love it when the keynote makes sense? When it says something you want to hear? When it says something that resonates in a way you can take it away? Well DevLearn for me manages that every single time. ’09 Eric Zimmerman: ’10 John Seeley Brown: ’11 Dr Michio Kaku and a final session called Ignite, where one speaker had most of the thousand plus people in the theatre in tears with a social program sparked by the London riots, oh that was me! ‘12, the best one ever, Jon Landau, the guy who produced Avatar and Jeffrey Ma, the real life character from the film 21: The Keynotes are just the tip of the iceberg. The conference streams are valuable, the hands on BYOL (Bring your own laptop) sessions give you a kickstart in what you are trying to achieve.

That first year I soaked up the concurrent sessions, too much to attend all on my own, but each better than the last. I made a vow, not only would I be back at a Guild conference but I wanted to share my great ideas too. The following year I hosted the MoshPit at the first mLearnCon and was a speaker at DevLearn, I have not looked back. You will always find me willing to share something at DevLearn.

I leave every year not only recharged but exhausted from the intake of so much data in so many varied sessions. Can you see why I love DevLearn?

I no longer make one trip across the pond each year. I do it three times to Guild events. And that first place I encountered DevLearn? San Jose? Its where the organization I now work for has it’s HQ. Guild events are a great place to meet the right contacts, and who knows – your next employer may be there too. I now know every way to San Jose.

OK, I hear you, I omitted to tell you the bits they did not want to tell you. The camaraderie and the social scene that exists before you get there, at these event, and after they end. There’s the pre-conference workshops, the Expo, the DemoFest, the location, the parties, the fun and learning just can’t be beat.

But shhh, keep it secret we don’t want everyone knowing how good DevLearn is. Do we?

See you there? I am the bald guy! Come and say hello.

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