Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Putting the Dance in Your mLearnCon Attendance

The mLearnCon event is 3 weeks away.  If you are designing learning experiences in any way, you've got to take mobile devices seriously.  This is not a fad that will just go away if you keep demanding that your students check their devices at the door.  mLearning is something of a buzzword these days, but no matter what you call it mobile devices are everywhere and in everyone's hands...most with more than one mobile device.  Mobile is how we live our lives, it's how we access a global world of knowledge, and it's how business gets done.  

Ignoring mobile devices in training and education is as bad as being an entrepreneur and ignoring money.  

mLearnCon is in it's third year and continues to grow.  The most influential mobile training development experts will be there to answer all of your questions.  Since this is a niche conference you won't feel lost in the crowd.  It's hyper focused on one thing...MOBILE! 

If You're New to mLearning
If you are just getting started with mobile learning then mLearnCon is the place for you.  You could spend days, even weeks, searching the internet, reading reports (Mobile Report), and consuming other content in effort to get your mind around mobile.  But in the end you'd still have questions and you'd still lack the confidence to move forward.  Do your homework and then register for mLearnCon.  You'll want to sign up for a pre-conference workshop as well.  It's well worth the extra expense.  

Once you've registered you should start creating your strategy for attendance.  What? You don't create a conference strategy when you go to conferences? Well, If you are one those boondogglers, that's cool too. There's plenty of golfing near San Jose.  If you're serious about your conference attendance, then you really should be planning your attendance.  And this doesn't need to take long.  And it's NOT all about choosing which session to attend.

Step One
Step back and take a look at your current environment.  Define the context of your current job.  If you are a manager then you'll be thinking about your long term strategies and which projects are currently in progress or in the pipeline headed your way.  You should also understand your enterprise environment and your IT departments strategy.  You do not want to run off to a conference and find a beautiful hammer only to come home and discover there are no nails.  

If you are a designer or developer, these issues are important to you as well but you'll also want make a quick list of what tools you use, how you use them, and what you think you might be missing.  You've no doubt already encountered projects where you thought a mobile solution could be useful as part of the overall solution.  If your company has settled on a certain development tool then whether you like it or not, you should find a pre-conference workshop on that tool and a few sessions to help you hone those skills.  Remember, learning more about your tools is valuable. REALLY valuable in today's marketplace.  If you get the opportunity to learn more about your craft, do not squander it.

Step Two
Now that you have a solid picture of your own personal current environment, you should craft a few questions.  The questions you craft now will be what you use to refresh yourself when you've gone off track...and you will go off track.  The excitement of seeing colleagues, friends, keynote presentations, expo hall booths, etc., will no doubt begin to overwhelm you.  A short list of questions crafted BEFORE the event will act as your compas to get you back on track.  You don't need to define specifics on how these questions will get answered just yet...trust that the event and a little serendipity will offer the moments of enlightenment.  But if you don't have those questions on your mind you could very well miss the opportunities to gain the knowledge you need.

Step Three
NOW you're fully prepared to handle the detail work of reviewing the specifics about the event and how you will allocate your time.  This is when you'll engage with the conference mobile app.  If you don't have it then just use the web site. Review all of the sessions the first time by quickly scanning for the ones you think might answer your questions.  Don't think about it too much, just do a quick pass and see if anything jumps out at you.  Then do it again but look a little more closely, this time eliminating the ones that you are CERTAIN you will not need to attend.  Then do ANOTHER scan, this time dig a little deeper into the ones that are still remaining.

Make sure you have at least 2 or 3 selected in each time block.  Once you get to the event things happen fast and you don't have a lot of time for decision making.  You may find that one of your questions has been answered on day 1, and so that means a day 2 session is no longer necessary.  Having multiple sessions selected makes it easy to know exactly which one will fill in the gap.  It's no fun making decisions 5mins before sessions start, because you'll be frustrated going into what ever session you chose and every little thing will begin to annoy you.  I've experienced this many times and have heard the same from others.  Some times in those situations you get lucky and you wander into an amazing session...that's the serendipity that often occurs.  But the opposite can also occur and your state of mind going into a session that isn't working for you, is critical.  You don't want to be "that guy/gal" that starts nitpicking a well intentioned speaker because you were rolling the dice on their session.

Step Four
The greatest of plans often change in an instant.  This is where you need to put the DANCE in your attendance. Going with the flow works well if you are prepared to make adjustments without much thinking. The pre-planning takes most of the work out of decision making and allows you to feel more relaxed about the decisions you make.  When when need to adjust, it shouldn't be a big ordeal.  Just consult your session list first for alternatives.  If things have completely shifted and your session selections are no longer useful then refer to your questions and the quick environmental scan you did in in Step 1 and 2.  Because if things change THAT much on site, you will most definitely be flustered, so having your original image of the big picture will help you adjust and focus more quickly.  Remember, don't panic! Breathe. Dance.

The pre-planning may seem extreme, but I'm hoping you'll do something to prepare yourself for mLearnCon.  You cannot prepare for the changes in training and development without understanding mobile.  It's complicated.  It's different. It requires a new mindset around what training is and what it WILL be.  Moving your Powerpoint slides to mobile delivery services is NOT the solution.  Commit to being better than that.  Your learners deserve it and so do you.

1 comment:

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