What I Love About #DevLearn: Rising to the Challenge by Megan Torrance

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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.

Today we welcome Megan Torrance, CEO of TorranceLearning as she shares her thoughts about the DevLearn.

I love DevLearn. DevLearn is a big deal. It’s where the elearning-focused people come out in the largest numbers. It’s where the geekiest elearning people come out. It’s where the Expo is full of vendors who are focused on the elearning community. All the sessions are designed to improve your skills in this glorious little niche we call elearning.

DevLearn is where I find my people. I get to describe what I do in its glorious nitty gritty detail because the people I’m talking to get it. It’s where you don’t have to explain what mlearning is. Or Tin Can.

And I love DevLearn for its challenge. Actually, I love DevLearn for its multiple challenges.

DevLearn will challenge you to bring your A game.

If you’re presenting a session or working a booth in the Expo, you know this is the big one. The one you need to have your best stuff ready for. You’re keenly aware that the last week of October is one big due date for you. Because everyone attending DevLearn will be bringing their A games, too. They’ll have things to show you, questions to ask you, challenges to pose to you.

Photo from Scott Kellum: http://bit.ly/1sPWDdA

Photo from Scott Kellum: http://bit.ly/1sPWDdA

Meet the challenge: Spend some time now reviewing what you’ve accomplished in the last year. It’s been a long year, so look through your files and your calendar to remind yourself of all that you’ve done. Do you keep a portfolio? Scan through that, too. Now, get out a clean sheet of paper (or a clean workspace on the computer) and write down your top 3 accomplishments. Under that, write down 3 things you wish you had the chance to do over because of the lessons you’ve learned. Last, write down 3 things you need new ideas for at DevLearn. Now you’re ready to answer the first most interesting questions of any conversation at DevLearn. That’ll get you through the first day at DevLearn. After that, you’ll be ready for the next challenge.

DevLearn will challenge your thinking.

You’ll have the opportunity to see how other people handled similar situations differently. You’ll learn how to use your development platforms in new ways. And you’ll see new technologies and approaches that you didn’t even know existed. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn something that makes you question the way you’ve always done things. If you’re not ready to be challenged and grow, you will not get nearly as much out of DevLearn as you can.

Meet the challenge: This one’s a mindset preparation. At the same time you’re bringing your A game to DevLearn, you’ll want to be open to learning new things that will raise that game even farther. You can cognitively approach this from a few different angles. For example, from a constructivist perspective, we learn by adding new experiences, interactions and facts to what we already know. From an integrative thinking perspective, when encounter a new opposing idea, you don’t necessarily have to choose one over the other. Instead, you can create something new by that contains elements of each one … and is better than either one in isolation. Now you’re ready to learn. (It is called DevLearn, after all.) I like to gather ideas as I go through a conference on 3×5” index cards, and then sort them when I get on the plane or when I get home. That’s how I prepare for the next challenge.

DevLearn will challenge you to implement.

And so will your clients and colleagues back at home. Ok, so you went to DevLearn. What new and amazing insights are you going to share with us?  It’s a lot of resources to get to DevLearn; if you can’t turn it into noticeable improvement back on the job, you’ve done something wrong. At the same time, it’s likely that you’ll come home with a list far bigger than any human’s capacity to implement as fast as you’d like.

Photo from Simon Scott: http://bit.ly/1sPX5ss

Photo from Simon Scott: http://bit.ly/1sPX5ss

Meet the challenge: Put some time now on your calendar to get yourself organized when you get back. Start by sorting your ideas and notes into piles. I usually have piles for Things I can just do now, Things that require some work to do, Things I need to mull over a bit more, and Things I have no idea why I wrote down. I toss the last pile into the recycle bin. I put reminders around my workspace for the Things I can just do. I put a binder clip around the Things I need to mull over so I can come back to them later. I then spend some time on the Things that require work do. This is usually the most impact-filled pile, and yet I know I can’t do it all right now. I prioritize them based on their impact, the complexity to implement, whether I have time to get to them now, and so on, and then I put them into time buckets. This one I’ll do this month. Next month, Jen and I will work on that one. When Project X ends, then we’ll all dive in and work on this other one together.

Bonus points: If you come to DevLearn with other people on your team, like I do, you can work together on this and multiply your efforts.

When I see you at DevLearn, let’s talk about how you’re rising to the challenge and what you’re going to do with all that you’re learning … because I expect to be learning from you.

Who’s next to share what they love about DevLearn? Maybe it’s YOU! If  you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, please reach out to David Kelly via email.

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