(Instead of boring topic headers, I'm going with quotes this go-around...)
“You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” (AA Milne)
DevLearn...Vegas or wherever it ends up...DevLearn...
Is it an eLearning conference? Is it group therapy? Could it possibly be both? I'd like to think so.
I will apologize straight away if, under the guise of a wrap up, you came here expecting what my top 3 or 5 takeaways were. Or, maybe, what the 'next big thing' is going to be coming out of the Guild...maybe that's what you came here for. God forbid you came here for an answer of any sort...if you find one, let me know. I tend to have more Qs than As. No, I write this wrap up as a realization of one thing: DevLearn, itself.
Having now been a repeat visitor to DevLearn four times over now, something's becoming more and more clear to me. This conference is, by far and away, THE annual meeting of the eLearning minds you should attend if you care about the industry. And when I say care about the industry, I don't mean the newest buzzword, concept, theory, or trick. I mean what people are doing every day, in every job, no matter how remote, small, or seemingly inconsequential.
DevLearn is about the people. And I've learned something about these people, at least a select lot of them, that I didn't realize in conferences past. Whether I was too young, too insecure, too new, or whatever the fault was, I thought it couldn't possibly be so...but it is:
These people are my friends.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” (CS Lewis)
I looked to a significant segment of the folks that attended this conference and, egotist that I can be on my home turf, would step back slowly into the shadows when it came to these people I respect...even revere in some instances. But I realized...I woke up this time around and saw that they were just as happy to see me...that they were just as happy to listen to an idea I had about something, or a question I needed to raise. What started with a casual piece of feedback here and there developed into late night conversations about the industry...about our jobs...or not.
In speaking with one of these friends (Tracy Parish), we discussed for a moment, over lunch, what we'd be attending. And what we realized was that we weren't necessarily attending sessions based on the subject matter, but, rather, the presenter themselves. Now, don't get me wrong - I saw a couple sessions from people I hadn't met before, but I saw what she was saying and pretty much followed suit. I knew these people, I liked these people, and wanted to hang on their words because of the respect I have for them. And it held true for her session, as well.
Some of the sessions I attended, all of which relevant, I knew the presenter well before the session (Jane, Tracy, etc.). Others, I had interacted with the presenters before, but they were unaware of the respect I had for them and their craft (Kevin, Clark, Sarah, etc.). Others still...well, they ran the show this year (Hi, Dave). Did I stick with comfortable faces? Maybe. But these, to me, are the faces of the Guild...and I was the most opposite thing to disappointed I could have ever been. And these folks, as Kevin commented, have slowly become good friends.
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.” (Aristotle)
Again, should I maybe have stuck to takeaways as part of this wrap-up? Maybe. Who knows, maybe I'll write another one doing just that. But not now. Right now, I want to be thankful for involvement with the eLearning Guild, the DevLearn conference (and all their opportunities), the knowledge I've gained, and will continue to gain. I'm thankful, indeed, for that.
But down deep, and now on the surface, I know I am most grateful for my colleagues. My friends. Thanks for making it the best year ever. I'll see you next year.