Friday, February 4, 2011

…in the other guy’s shoes

 Well, after 20 years of being the vendor, exhibitor or presenter, this past week I got to be in the other guy’s shoes. Attending the ASTD Tech Conference in San Jose was a nice diversion from my day-to-day activities as Senior Manager of Learning Technology. Granted, I was in the grand mecca of geekdom, home of Adobe, Cisco, Google and many others, but I was still on hiatus from the East Coast.

So how did the shoes fit? I guess it depended on where and what I was doing. I must say I missed the show floor. As far as the vendor gig goes, that was probably my favorite part; meeting potential customers, pitching the latest tool or service. And, during some of the presentations I yearned to be up there contributing and not just consuming. But I did enjoy the consuming. It was awesome learning from my industry peers. I even finally leared how to use hash tags in my tweets and play SCVNGR (thanks @stevier).

Another great part of going to a show like this is to see and hear what other folks are learning. I find that they ask questions I would like answers to that I didn’t know I wanted asked in the first place. The conference covered the gambit from mobile learning to advanced Googling to training on a global scale. Knowledge and information and the skills to both access and apply them are expanding at a geometric rate. It’s kind of like grains on a chess board. Start with one grain on one corner and then double each square. By the end the amount of data is overwhelming; and in the case of learning for business, the entire set of “stuff” may be different at each square. The strategies we received and discussed this week are the tip of the iceberg (to use a cliche) for what we face in the years to come.

What was also wonderful to see at the “geek” learning show, was the number of pairs of high heeled shoes in the mix. Coming from a fairly industrial sector in previous years, it was awesome to see the number of female geeks in the business. Having two daughters who both have a passion for writing and design, it is refreshing to see how progressive the learning field has become.

As I head home to potentially switching from sneakers to snow boots, I am left with fond memories of warm San Jose! Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year.

- Ken

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