As I get ready to wrap up this series of blog posts about InstructureCon, I thought I would write something here about "beginner's mind" and the mistakes / lessons learned for me. I met so many people who come to InstructureCon repeatedly, but it was definitely a first for me, and I don't have a lot of other conference experience either, so I was very much a beginner. By sheer luck I happened to do some things that worked out really well; other things I realized I should have done differently. Probably the most important thing, though, is all the lessons I learned on the ground that will help me be a better remote participant next year, since it's unlikely I would be able to attend InstructureCon again (simply because of the costs; if it were not so expensive I would be there next year for sure). Having seen what it is really like on the ground, now I will do an even better job of figuring out ways to participate remotely.
Here are three things that I lucked into that were really helpful:
1. Preparation. I did a lot of preparation that helped me be people-aware, like the big Twitter list I made of presenters and attendees plus remote participants who signed up also. That was such a big help in terms of knowing who to look for! I am sure there were still a lot of people I could/should have met, but the logistics of the conference were not the best for being able to meet people in a purposeful way unless they were actually presenting. So, I'm guessing there are maybe other things I should have done to have made more connections at the conference, but the preliminary work paid off. I wish the conference program made all that easier, so that if people wanted to share their Twitter handles, for example, they could do that, and there could be a REALLY big list of all the attendees who shared their Twitter handle as part of the registration process. Also, having created a Canvas course space to keep track of my stuff was also really helpful, and I definitely plan on reviving that space for next year's InstructureCon as a remote participant.
2. The Hat. It might sound silly, but that hat was incredibly useful both as a way to identify me for anyone who was trying to find me, and also as an all-purpose conversation starter, not just with InstructureCon attendees, but even with random people I met like the bus drivers, etc. Any kind of silly hat would work, but the fact that the beanie was connected with the idea of being the "Panda Drone" worked out even better; it was not just a random conversation starter, but one with a purpose behind it.
3. Follow-up Blogging. I am really glad I decided to do this series of follow-up blog posts. I did not take into account just how hectic things would get with having to go to Austin and the start of school, etc., so I probably should have done 2 posts a day for 15 days instead of trying to do 1 post a day for 30 days -- because, obviously, that didn't work out; it is now September and I am still wrapping up the last posts, ha ha. Here are all the posts.
And here are three lessons learned:
1. Write Things Down. I repeat: WRITE THINGS DOWN. I was just kidding myself to have said, "Oh, I'll remember that." Even as the words came out of my mouth, there was a little voice inside my head saying, "No you won't! You better write it down!" But I didn't and, as a result, there are people's names and cool ideas that I really wanted to remember from the conference that I have now forgotten because I didn't write it down at the time. Just like with school: you can sit there listening to a lecture and think you are going to remember stuff... but you don't. I should have gotten a ballpoint pen to wear around my neck just like the little InstCon booklet we wore so that I could have written more things down right in the moment.
2. Get More Sleep. I felt really obliged to attend every single breakout session in my role as Panda Drone, but if I had not felt obliged, I would have watched the morning keynotes streaming in my condo, and then leisurely have made my way to the conference during the first break-out session. At the few conferences I have been to previously, there were not all these great evening events, so I could just go to bed early... but at InstructureCon, there were great evening events every single evening, and by the time I got to Friday, I was really exhausted. I'm someone who wants/needs eight hours of sleep each night and I ended up seriously sleep-deprived by the end. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on any of those evening events (Game Night! Street Fair! Carnival! they were fantastic), and, since the breakout sessions are recorded, I would have been glad to have gotten some extra sleep by arriving to the conference center later each morning and caught up on the sessions I missed when the videos came out later.
3. Take More Pictures. I only got my first smartphone recently (I simply never needed one until my dad got sick, and I had to start texting to communicate with all his caregivers who prefer texting as the best way to stay in touch), so I'm still really not very good at even using my phone, and I'm not used to taking pictures while things are happening. I snagged a lot of great pictures that people shared at Twitter, but I wish that I had taken more pictures of my own too.
And I have to say: THANK YOU to all the people who shared great pictures. There are some people who really know how to take beautiful pictures with just their phones. If you have some images you want to share that are saved on your phones, there's an InstructureCon 2018 Image Gallery space right here at the Community where you can upload for posterity!
Here's a sweet panda shot from Paul:
A picture from Dave Hooker who was a morning yoga-goer:
A lovely shot from Gannon Nordberg:
And a sunset carnival picture from the CanvasLMS Twitter:
Now that we know InstructureCon has outgrown Keystone and is moving to a more traditional conference venue, I feel so lucky that I got to attend an event in Keystone, and with such a wonderful carnival theme! I enjoyed it all so much, with so many great memories ... some things you remember even without writing them down thank goodness! :-)