This is my second time attending DevLearn. It has been a delight to both attend and speak at this conference. My first time around I wasn’t sure what to expect. This year, I came with some ideas about the conference and what I wanted to get from the sessions. In reflecting back over the week, I realized that I learned three very important lessons. So in true DevLearn style, I decided to blog about it and then spread the news around using Twitter.
The tools have made building eLearning much easier
The tools that are available on the market place have put a lot of power in the hands of non techie developers. You can hook up with industry experts to see how to use these tools to empower you and your organization to build engaging activities. I’m always looking for best practices and neat short cuts that can reduce my development time and I’m impressed with the skill set that was at this conference.
The tools have made building eLearning much harder
With great power comes great complexity. While the building of learning activities has made it easier, there are sometimes trouble in implementing it. Ask any mobile developer when they start testing their software on the actual devices instead of a simulator. While many of the authoring tools look after the programming for you, these same tools also takes away some control. For example, what happens when you run into a bug where the page count displays “Page 0 of 6”. Or the audio runs fine in a FLV video file when run locally, but it skips when it’s run online. It is in the testing and implementing that these unique “features” show up and now it takes a while to troubleshoot and debug. So even though the tools are more powerful, you need more time when you want to join all the pieces together.
It isn’t the sessions – it’s the people
While most of the sessions were good, I did hit a few that were not what I expected. Either the content wasn’t there or the style of the presenter was not the best. However, I considered this a very successful conference. While the keynote sessions were great and most of the sessions I sat in on were also good, it was the connections to some brilliant people that made it for me. The organizers at DevLearn not only strongly promote this type of networking, they build it into the conference. You are encouraged to meet and hook up at different events and also provide an avenue for you to organize your own meeting. It was good that the conference organized 28 Breakfast Bytes session that allowed people to get together to discuss specific topics. Also, while you are in these sessions, you are encouraged to tweet about it. So even if there are sessions you are not interested in, it’s in meeting the vast array of developers and educators from around the world all striving to make learning better for everyone that is the real jewel of the conference. I made some new friends this year and I’m looking forward to collaborating with them over the next year.
I recall earlier this year someone tweeted the question, “If you could only attend one conference, what would it be?” I responded very quickly and said DevLearn is a very good one to attend. I have no problem in recommending DevLearn again for next year. Happy developing. Hope to meet you at DevLearn 2011 #dl11 in Vegas.
(you can follow Phil on Twitter @CanadianPacMan)