#DevLearn Reflections: Continuing the Learning by Jenny Nilsson

Today we welcome Jenny Nilsson of Varma Multimedia Learning as she shares her thoughts about this year’s DevLearn Conference and Expo.

Last week I attended DevLearn for the first time. It was wonderful! I posted in the conference app “I’ve found my people”.

CaptureDevLearn was fascinating and inspiring. I spent 5 very full days attending sessions, talking to vendors at the expo, watching presentations at DemoFest, and talking with other professionals. It was all a little overwhelming. Now that I’ve had some time to start processing everything, I realized that I can’t apply many of the things I learned immediately. Most of the content requires much more thought before I can incorporate it into my work.

Since college, I’ve generally gotten my ‘professional development’ in small chunks. I read an article or blog post, I attend a monthly meeting or a half day class, or I practice a skill before I demonstrate it to the user group I co-manage. Perhaps I get an action item or two from those, or just information to be filed away in case it is every needed, but it is manageable. DevLearn felt a bit like trying to drink from the fire hose. My notes are filled with “Action” labels and many of those are “learn more about…” or “look up….”

I also know that work and life will get in the way if I’m not careful. The excitement will fade and if I’m not careful those “Action” notes will be lower priority than the next work crisis, or finding the next client. So I’ve spent some time thinking about how I make sure that I sustain some of the energy from DevLearn.

I reviewed my notes again and they reminded me of something. I have a list of reading to do, I have a set of skills I want to learn or improve. I realized that DevLearn was the first week of the semester, and my notes are the syllabus.

Now, this isn’t college anymore. I’m not interested in professors or grades; they aren’t the point. But I do want a study group.

I don’t know exactly what a DevLearn study group would look like. Maybe a weekly email or phone call? Monthly webinar? A regular lunch date with local colleagues? A book club? There are tons of options. A networking group I’m a member of creates groups of a few business people who meet once a month for two hours, each gets dedicated time to talk about what they’re working on, and get feedback from the rest of the group. Another puts people in “accountability” pairs who meet weekly (usually online for 20-30 minutes). Each tells the other what they accomplished in the previous week and what they plan to accomplish the next week. At their cores, each just requires dedicated time, and regular check-ins.

I learn best when I have the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other people. So I’d like to invite you to be one of those people.

Additional thoughts from David…

I love that Jenny talks about continuing the conversation from DevLearn. It’s in the continued discussion that we build context around what we learned at DevLearn, converting ideas and concepts into skills and competencies.

One of the reasons I gravitated to the eLearning Guild as a source for professional development is the strong and vibrant community that exists around the discussions the Guild facilitates. The Guild community has vibrant conversations across social media, be it in our LinkedIn group, using the #eLGuild hashtag on Twitter, by participating in our #GuildChat conversations, on Google+, or via other platforms. These social media platforms are a great way to continue the learning and conversations that started at DevLearn.

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