If you have attended the ASTD International Conference and Exhibition in recent years, you know that it is an enormous and sometimes overwhelming gathering of learning professionals, vendors, and experts. There are many people and companies clamoring for your attention and your time.
Heading to ASTD 2014 without a game plan can result in you leaving the conference with your head spinning and more confused than when you started. Good intentions can get crushed under the weight of information.
If you are planning on building your mobile learning knowledge at ASTD 2014, you will need a strategy to navigate the conference. Here are a few pointers to build a plan that will help you increase the potential of meeting your goals.
1. Set Your Goals
First, meet with your learning team, even if members are going to the conference or not, and create a list of goals to be met at the conference.
A few example goals might be:
identifying a rapid development tool,
learning more about HTML5,
gaining an understanding about the Experience API (xAPI),
meeting with your LMS vendor to discuss mobile delivery, or
building a list of resources on mobile graphic user interface design.
Prioritize these goals and categorize them between “must have” and “nice to have.”
2. Talk to People To Help You Meet Your Goals
Next, be prepared to have valuable discussions to meet your goals.
In other words, do your homework ahead of the conference, and list questions and comments you want to share with another learning professional, a speaker or a vendor.
So, if one of your goals is to learn more about rapid development tools for mobile development, you might have questions for vendors such as Trivantis Lectora Publisher or Articulate or Adobe Captivate like:
“What is your design approach for mobile?”
“Can you explain your mobile publishing process?”
“How do you convert existing content to deliver on the mobile platform?”
“How will my mobile deliverables report to my LMS?”
Be prepared for some sales talk, of course, but don’t walk away from any discussion until you have a clear understanding of the answers to your questions.
I was at a conference a few weeks ago in a conversation just like this with a vendor in an expo. As I pressed the vendor representative about their mobile capabilities, he finally admitted, “It’s not elegant.”
You won’t be able to make educated decisions about your mLearning future if you are not equipped to have useful discussions about your specific needs and wants.
3. Get Examples
Also, whenever you can, ask to see examples of mobile learning from the speaker, vendor or colleague that you engage about the subject.
This is your version of “show me the money.”
It’s one thing for a person to talk about mobile learning, but the real proof lies in actual implementations.
Analyze examples of mLearning and ask questions about the development experience, process and results.
See if you can learn about the scope, budget and timeline of the initiative, and definitely ask about the results and reception with the target learners.
This is where you can take advantage of lessons learned and apply them to your own enterprise.
4. Keep Track of What You Learn
Finally, set aside time each day to record your findings.
In the late afternoon, sit down with a beverage, and organize and summarize all that you learned that day.
What new resources did you learn about?
What contacts deserve a follow-up phone call?
How much closer are you to meeting your goals?
Do you have any recommendations to the team back home at this point?
Who or what is a “must see” tomorrow?
Don’t wait until you get back to the office to put all of these thoughts together, or many important details will slip through the cracks.
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t let it.
Float will be there to offer suggestions about who to see and what to attend.
You can find us at the Expo at booth 1837 or at several networking functions.
Our managing director, Chad Udell, will be giving an Education Session about Content Strategy for Conversion and Multiscreen Delivery.
You can find the mobile learning information you need at ASTD 2014 if you take the time to create a game plan for the conference and, most importantly, stick to it.
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