What follows is an interview with Tracy Parish, education technology specialist for Southlake Regional Health Centre and upcoming docent at DevLearn 2016 Conference & Expo.
Have you attended DevLearn before? If so, what made you come back?
This November will be my sixth time attending DevLearn. The reason I keep coming back is that this event is one where I get not only practical knowledge that I can take back and apply immediately, but more important for me is that I get a wonderful glimpse into the “future.” I get to see what others in my industry are working on and trying out. It expands my view of the industry as a whole.
Have you been a docent before? (For any program.)
I’m honored to be a docent for the second time at DevLearn this year.
What made you decide to be a docent?
Besides the amazing giant button I got to wear around the conference last year?
A few years ago I was requested by one of the docents to join them and new attendees for lunch. It was such an interesting experience to be the person at the table with not only conference navigation knowledge, but also industry knowledge. I was the one being asked my opinion rather than being the one asking.
I flashed back to university, first year, what a daunting experience to not know anyone, know where to go, or how to navigate yourself around the campus. Second year, I was a frosh (freshman) leader welcoming new students to our dorm, showing them around campus, sharing all the best places to eat, introducing them to other residents, and helping them feel like they belonged.
I then flashed to my first Guild event in Boston in 2007 and what it felt like to be attending an event of this size for the first time. It’s a very similar feeling, being dropped into a conference with thousands of attendees. Being a docent takes me back to that same university experience where I can help new attendees navigate their way and welcome them into a community I so dearly treasure.
What are you most excited for/hoping to get from being a docent?
Did I mention the giant docent button? It’s the size of a dinner plate. You know this, right? One of the biggest takeaways from a Guild event is the networking. Being a docent puts you front and center to network with and meet new people, each with a different personal and professional background and reason for being at the event.
What are you hoping to provide attendees as a docent?
I’m hoping that I can offer myself as a friend who attendees can come to and ask questions. Someone who can direct them around the event, point out interesting speakers and topics. DevLearn is an enormous event and there is a lot to take in; I’m hoping that I can assist them in getting the most out of this conference experience.
How did your career lead you to being a docent at DevLearn?
I’m a wonderful example of Cammy Bean’s “Accidental Instructional Designer.” My working career has granted me to be a jill-of-many-trades, and I think this background affords me the ability to appreciate the many different paths that lead an attendee to a Guild event.
If you switched careers today, what would you choose to do?
I’ve read of a place in Wilmington, NC called Beau’s Coffee. A coffee shop whose main staff has intellectual and developmental disabilities. I’d love to be able to open an establishment or business such as this to give a place for kids and adults, like my own brother, a stable and safe place for them to work. It’s not only that, but a place for them to feel important, needed, and valued as members of the community.
If you could only give one tip, what advice would you give to a new DevLearn attendee?
Take a look at the conference agenda and plan out your first and second, maybe even third, option for each time slot of the conference. This way, if you head into a session and then realize that it doesn’t resonate with you, then you can quickly head out and jump into your second choice. Never feel like you have to stay in a session, and never feel like you can’t show up late to others. Be mindful and respectful of the other attendees and speakers, but make the experience one that works for you, your current situation, and/or future endeavors.
Why do you think it’s important for learning professionals to attend DevLearn?
DevLearn is the place where new ideas are forming and emerging. If you want to know what’s cutting-edge or what’s coming soon, this is the place to be to hear and learn about it.