I have been working in Higher Ed for about 13 years or so (most of it in Instructional Technology of some sort). I have been fortunate enough to go to many, many conferences over the years. I have spoken at conferences, worked with product management/marketing on their presentations, helped organize local conferences, etc, etc...but it has been roughly 4 years since I have been able to attend any conference as an attendee. And I have missed it.
What is the value?
To me, there are two major selling factors to going to a vendor specific conference:
Making connections with peers from around the country/world who are also in the trenches.
Access to vendor support/resources and application specific announcements.
When you are a new parent (or shoot, just a parent!), sometimes it's great to make a connection with someone who can commiserate with you; someone who "gets it". The connections at a conference are the same. You can say what you do (Administrator, Instructional Designer, Faculty, Instructional Technologist, Higher Ed, K12, Pro-Ed, etc, etc, etc) and you will make a connection - and one that will last (thanks to social media!). Exchange contact information, you never know when you will run into an issue and think, "I should contact Joe Schmoe, maybe he can help."
Do you have a nagging problem with your system? Have a major complaint from your administration or users? Well, guess what - not only do you have someone to talk to, you have their undivided attention! You can have a face-to-face conversation with representatives from Instructure - and if they don't know the answer, they will find someone who does! And maybe the best part? Product managers are at InstCon! What better place to ask them "Why did you do that!?!" or "What is coming and when?!?" (And as an added benefit, most vendors who integrate with Canvas will be there also, so you have even more people to talk to!)
Why am I going?
As I mentioned, it has been roughly 4 years since I attended any IT conference as an attendee. I had a stint working in the private sector for an Ed Tech company - so I went to a few conferences and had to work. I am very excited to go to InstructureCon 2017, make connections, and learn from my peers. I have only been working in Canvas since last August, so this will be a great opportunity for me to meet people and soak in everything!
I am fortunate to work for a great boss (shout out email@example.com) who sacrificed her attendance so that I could go this year. I'm looking forward to talking with the vendors, pressing on ones we have, and talking with firstname.lastname@example.org in person (plus a slew of other people - especially anyone from Canvas Mobile Users).
I am also really looking forward to Canvas Intelligence Exchange where I can meet other community members, learn from them, and gather any pre-InstCon knowledge (email@example.com has already told me to bring an extra suitcase :smileylaugh:).
Why are you going? What are you looking forward to? What are your InstCon suggestions?