Saturday, November 21, 2009


Devlearn 2009 wasn’t my first conference but it was with the eLearning Guild. Their promotions and catalog of topics captured my interest at a time when I am looking for solutions to learning and training challenges. Since it was a gathering of “Learning Techies”, I expected an underground network of Twitter users who would undoubtedly share their thoughts on sessions they were attending, organize meet-ups via the viral effect of Twitter, and guide the niche to areas of interest throughout the convention. Historically, this had always been my experience with social media at many conferences. I decided I wanted more and identified my goals for the conference. These goals were:

Goal 1: Identify leading trends in elearning design and delivery to solve my challenges

Goal 2: Engage in the learning experience (One of the goals Twitter enhanced the most)

Goal 3: Network with thought leaders and practitioners in the training field.

Goal 4: Promote my expertise within the area of training design and content development

Goal 5: Have fun.

My goals were simple and fairly standard but having experience with many conferences, I realized there were degrees of success. These were hindered or helped by my motivation and conference logistics. Let’s face it, we can’t be in all places at the same time, or can we.

Following are the top 10 ways Twitter helped me meet and in some cases exceed my conference goals for Devlearn 2009.

  1. I was able to experience the content of several (concurrent) sessions while attending the most interesting (to me) ones live.

  2. I was able to maximize my precious time posting or reading tweets when speakers were less than engaging or informative. Not saying others weren’t interested in the speaker at those moments, I simply wasn’t and didn’t have to be held hostage listening to stories. As a presenter myself I will be sensitive to the potential karma coming back at me on this one.

  3. Twitter became my notebook where I was able to capture ideas, share them, receive back channel feedback on a tweet, create a deeper dialogue on the note and ultimately gain greater insight into the topic through the collective intelligence of those willing to collaborate on the initial idea.

  4. I became a part of the pre-conference community who built up the suspense of meeting each other live in San Jose, CA. This was the first conference I went to (of which I have never previously attended) where I was greeted by people who recognized my Twitter Avatar. I felt like I had been a part of the Devlearn community for years yet I was essentially a stranger to it.

  5. Some presenters, followed up post conference with responses to my conference tweets. This allowed the learning and networking experience to continue (at this point, indefinitely).

  6. My tweets (like everyone’s) became part of the conference (vibe, pulse, and voice) with people hovering around a monitor posted in the registration area. I was part of the learning experience, a contributor as opposed to traditional participation. This made me feel vested and a part of everyone’s learning.

  7. I was able to network with people who by the shear logistical challenges, we may never have met, virtually or not and been able to share our thoughts and experiences with each other. One of the presenters literally used my name when responding to a question I asked (live). In and of itself, no big deal, but he couldn’t see my name badge and later informed me he was wondering when I was going to start tweeting for his session. He recognized me from my Avatar. I was glad to oblige.

  8. I became part of the Devlearn experience as I participated in the live #Lrnchat session.

  9. I Met a wonderful group of people whom I hope will foster into a group of friends. Although spread throughout the world, I can read their tweets as if I am in a cubicle next to them listening to them tweet about their thoughts on Learning every day.

  10. Learned that if ever lost in a city one of the greatest urban navigators was a New Zealander who helped us find a hidden restaurant and gave us all a great story to go home with. It must be a middle earth thing. She didn’t even use a compass and I didn’t see any stars that night. Thanks @schnicker.

Some of the people I met live or virtual during the conference whom I feel are great resources for learning and development are (please forgive me if I left anyone out):

@bschlenker, @mrch0mp3rs, @koreenolbrish, @schnicker, @kelticray, @LearningPutty, @espnguyen, @marciamarcia, @quinnovator, @robrobertson, @safetysparks, @dr_kg, @badsquare, @aveyca, @srcrawf2, @Kelly_smith01, @gminks, @tonykarrer, @chrisstjohn, @moehlert, @xicanowan, @writetechnology @jeddgold, @kristencromer, @jenebean, @ranig2u, @shantarohse, @elearning @tim_m_martin

Twitter helped me enhance my live and virtual experience with Devlearn. There is still room for improvement though. I would like to see more presenters use Twitter to reach those who are not in the session or to make the general sessions more interactive. Twitter doesn’t have to be a post presentation summary but can be a way of building the live conversation. Twitter can also be a live sentiment reader when the speaker makes a point. The greatest value I experienced through the week was when the dialogue branch-expanded as opposed to a traditional linear conversation. Congratulations to the elearning Guild for making Twitter one of the informal keynotes who still has a lot to say and for helping me achieve my conference goals.

I can be reached on Twitter @TerrenceWing


  1. Great recap. One of the things I keep telling people about my experience at DevLearn is how rich the experience was BECAUSE of Twitter. In the past, I've been asked, "What did you bring back from the conference?" And my response might be a nugget or 3 that I pulled out of some sessions. But this time, I tell people that I brought back a network of people. A network of brilliant people, like yourself, that will continuously help me do my job better.

    Great making contact with you and look forward to staying connected.

    Steve (@espnguyen)

  2. Thanks for your comment Steve. You bring up a great point about coming home with a network. Twitter is such a valuable tool. There were so many people, yourself included whom I never would have met had we not tweeted, . The more we get our organizations to recognize the value of the tool, the greater our network will become. Thanks again.