Every year since working for University of Wyoming Extension, I have had an opportunity to attend the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) conference. It is one of the highlights of my year. Simply put ASTD has their act together when putting together conferences. This year is no different.
Each year, I have an opportunity to rub elbows with the authors of many the books I have been reading over the past year. These authors are thought leaders in the industry. Sa far, at this conference, I have attended sessions by Sir Ken Robinson, Jane Bozarth, Catherine Lambardozzi, and Wendy Terwelp. I have also met Clark Quinn and Karl Kapp. Tomorrow, I start the day at a John Seeley Brown presentation.
ASTD has put together a highspeed mobile application. This application is available for smartphones and tablets both PC and Mac. The app allows you to review and plan your personal schedule. You can find breakout sessions by program, speaker, or time slot. Each session has accompanying slides and documents. A button on the session will show you where the session is on a map. You can also take notes for each session. Finally, you can export your entire schedule to Android, Google, or Outlook calendars.
At this year’s conference, there are approximately 9,000 attendees. An estimated 2,000 attendees came from over 75 different countries.
ASTD does a fantastic job catering to members and attendees. At the beginning of the conference, they host a newcomer’s orientation to help newbies best navigate the conference. In the session, the presenters talk about other great tools such as the schedule, exhibitor listing, and conference guide. The guides also include a learning transfer action logs to help keep your training focused. These are some of the best guides I have ever seen for an event. Lots to learn, even for the smallest of conferences.
ASTD has 8 content tracks:
- career development
- designing and facilitating learning
- global human resource development
- leadership development
- learning technologies
- measurement, evalation, roi
- human capital
- workforce development
And 3 industry tracks:
- higher education
- sales enablement
ASTD also provides great mentoring opportunities and tools for career development. This year, I took advantage of some of these opportunities. Throughout the conference, they provide speed mentoring opportunities where you can get advice on your career. At the conference, there was also a career resource center. This center provided the following tools and events:
- ASTD job bank and career navigator tool
- Career development library
- US department of labor career one stop shop
- Career center educational sessions
I personally tried out the career navigation tool and was very impressed. After doing a self-evaluation, the tool provided a training plan with recommended resources to help me come up to speed.
ASTD also invited world class exhibitors. This year there are 368 different exhibitors present. Many of the exhibitors also conduct classes and demos.
Throughout the conference, attendees are encouraged to network as much as possible. Many events such as “Meet to eat” are geared towards networking opportunities. The Tuesday evening event is focused on a conference wide networking opportunity. This year it will be at Gilley’s Dallas.
If you are interested in following the proceedings of the ASTD conference, you can follow the Twitter hashtag #ASTD2013.