For over a decade, Adobe has hosted live events like the Adobe eLearning Conference and the Adobe Learning Summit. I have it on proper authority that they have cancelled the Adobe Learning Summit, initially scheduled for October 26-27th at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. They are official sponsors of this year’s DevLearn conference, which the eLearning Guild has planned for October 21st-23rd. The organizers of DevLearn have asked me to speak at this event, but it’s clear from the DevLearn website that there is a possibility that they may move to an entirely online format if COVID-19 persists into October.
I suspect that with the success of Adobe eLearning World 2020 that Adobe may be less inclined to hold live and in-person events in the future. For me, one of the most significant benefits of these conferences was networking and social activities. Sure, you can learn a similar amount of material online as you can from in-person sessions, but the side discussions out in the hall is a great way to learn as well. I enjoy meeting new people, and these conferences have also opened additional work opportunities that would otherwise not be there. Perhaps Adobe could create additional chat rooms that serve a less formal component of the conference, such as giving participants a live forum to have conversations and share ideas and best practices.
As a business owner who has very few business expenses to write off at the end of the year, these conferences have allowed me to have a relaxing time and promote my business as well. I’ve certainly enjoyed the entertainment part of staying in a Las Vegas resort. Relaxing by the pool while back at home, my neighbours are already wearing winter coats is extremely wonderful. I’ve also gone to dinners with existing and potential business colleagues. While we do discuss the eLearning industry, we also enjoy having a great meal together and discussing other topics of interest as well. I’ve even done a little gambling. It’s nice to enjoy your work and get a tax write off as well.
One such interaction that has proven to be very successful in my business was meeting James and Susan Kingsley from ReviewMyElearning.com. Review my eLearning is a service that allows eLearning developers to share prototypes of their eLearning with stakeholders and other reviewers before you upload it to your organization’s LMS. Without Susan and James, I may not have learned about this invaluable service, and just as importantly, I may not have met two wonderful people I now consider my good friends and business colleagues.
Most of my work these days is teaching other Adobe Captivate users the skills that I’ve learned over my fifteen years as an eLearning developer. It was through the conferences that I met Kevin Siegel. Kevin is the Founder and President of IconLogic. Iconlogic is the leading provider of online software training in North America. Kevin is also the Founder and President of the International Council for Certified Online Training Professionals. Meeting Kevin led me to discover the Certified Online Training Professional (COTP) certification. I enrolled and completed this program. The certificate and badge that goes along with this certification are great, but the real benefit is that I am now a better online training professional for all my clients. I highly recommend that you complete this valuable certification if you do something similar to what I do.
Of course, the benefit of an online event is more inclusivity. First, people from all over the world can participate. With past Adobe Learning conferences, located in Las Vegas and Washington DC, only a limited number of people are close enough to these events to make them worthwhile. Washington, DC, is about an hour flight from where I live, and Nevada is only about a four-hour flight for me. However, I know that most of the Adobe eLearning team are from India. I can’t imagine what their flight time experience must be like.
Additionally, though, there are many other would-be participants in remote locations who have been asking for years for additional conferences closer to their homes. I understand Adobe’s reluctance to host events in certain countries. Certainly, in North America, there are hundreds of thousands of Captivate users. I’m sure not all regions can say this. An online conference can be attended by everyone, even if it means getting up earlier or staying up later than what you would normally.
Additionally, there is no cost associated with these live events. I’ve always said that the Adobe conferences are the best deal in eLearning conferences since they are complimentary. When you compare that to most of the conferences, I’m aware of in our industry, registration alone is well over $1,000, not to mention the expenses associated with travel and accommodation. The only cost of attending an online conference is one of your time. You need to block this time on your calendar. If you are a freelancer like I am, time spent on professional development is a time when you are not earning. Of course, do not forget what industry we work in. Professional development is what we do. To borrow from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, if we are not “sharpening our saws,” in other words, if we are not upgrading our tools and increasing our knowledge, our effectiveness goes down.
So, I’m all for online conferences, both as a speaker and as a participant. I do hope that Adobe and other organizations that host online conferences consider what they can offer to ensure there are opportunities to network and interact informally. One that can facilitate meeting the wonderful people I’ve met by attending these conferences in the past.
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