#ATD2015 It’s a Wrap, Part Two: Jean Marrapodi

your stories Jean Marrapodi

#ATD2015 It’s a Wrap: Serendipitous Learning

There is something to be said about learning serendipity and ATD ICE (Association for Talent Development International Conference and Expo #ATD2015) is full of serendipitous moments. Whether it’s over the expo lunch, finding that one twitter you’ve been talking with for months (or years) or over cocktails. If you have had the pleasure of meeting Jean, you immediately understand how serendipity finds her, not only finds her but gravitates to her. Jean is a delight and hugely curious about the world and people around her. One cannot help but be drawn to her laughter and questioning personality. I can only hope to be like Jean when I grow up. Find out more about Jean at applestar.org, if you aren’t following her on twitter, you need to do so @jmarrapodi.

Here now, is Jean’s perspective on the conference and those wonderful serendipitous learning moments. 

Be sure to share your favorite learning serendipity story or experience in the comments below! 



Jean Marrapodi Jean has been in the learning business since she began conducting school in the cellar with her dolls and stuffed animals. She has 15 years of experience designing learning in corporate training, 5 years as a teacher at the primary level, and 5 years writing elearning and teaching in higher education. She has the ability to make the complex simple, and learning fun.

Ok, I admit it. I’m a learning junkie.

I love attending conferences. I enjoy connecting with new people and learning new things. The past week I attended ATD 2015 in Orlando, FL, and left with a head full of new ideas and inspiration for things to try out back in the office.  ATD is one of the larger conferences in our industry, which gives you many choices of workshops, an enormous expo hall of vendors and lots of people to connect with.

At conferences I’m able to benchmark where I am in my own work, and grab onto new ideas to try. This year I made a point to attend the workshops of some of the biggies in our field: Jim Robinson, Ken Blanchard, Dick Handshaw, and Jim Kirkpatrick’s son Jim. It was fascinating to review the theories I use in my practice, retold in the words of the people who created them. That provided clarity for me and reinforced why I do what I do. Beyond that, I attended workshops on design thinking and the science of learning. Knowing how people learn, and finding better ways to use design to get to the root of the problem and consider diverse options for solving helps us be better at what we do. I also attended a session on strategically connecting our learning plan with the strategic plan of the business, which equipped me with a balanced scorecard approach to communicate with the business in the language of business.

Conferences are a place for serendipity.

I’ve been attending conferences for years, so it’s fun to catch up with people I’ve met over the years as we bump into one another at different events. Conferences are places to put faces on the Twitter handles that run through your feeds and catch them live in their workshops, as well as a place to find new people to follow as you attend other workshops. Following people lets you bring your learning deeper, and make connections with people you can reach out to with questions in the future. It’s a way to extend what you’ve learned, just like the microlearning and reinforcement trends we’ve been hearing so much about.

If you’re new at this kind of thing, make a point to connect with the people you sit with in sessions or whose tweets interest you. Connect with these like-minded individuals who face the same challenges you do and who have experience you can benefit from.

This year I was privileged to attend a dinner coordinated by Michele Lawson of the Red Feather Network, where I met Austin and Richard, Denver videographers from Sage Media. We discussed imagery in movies I’d never heard of. It was fascinating to consider a topic from a completely different perspective and reminded me of the feelings our learners may have when information is completely new to them, and to provide scaffolding hooks for them. Later in the week, I connected with Evert Pruis from the Netherlands after he tweeted content from my workshop. We had lunch and discovered how many things we had in common, and afterwards, attended Ajay Pangarkar’s session. I watched over his shoulder as he used Evernote to capture pieces of the workshops, annotated the speaker’s slides and tweeted out ideas on his multiple social media channels. That was an unexpected bonus and a method I need to try at the next conference.

We are in the learning profession, and thusly, we should be modeling intentional learning.

If you aren’t deliberate about doing so, time will eclipse your good intentions. Make a point to schedule a conference on your calendar, and work to get the budget to help you get there. If you can’t get your job to sponsor you, investigate volunteering or presenting a workshop. Both cover the cost of registration and cut the costs of attending. Conferences are ways to accelerated your career and broaden your horizons. If you want to be the best you can be doing what you do, make a point spending time with experts. Conferences are the best ways to do that. You can read a book, work through a MOOC, or take a course, but there is nothing like the contagious enthusiasm you come away with when you return home from a conference.

I look forward to meeting you at the next one.

success story

Share your favorite learning serendipity story or experience in the comments below! 

Watch this space tomorrow for #ATD2015 Perspectives with Miranda Lee


Related Posts: 6 After Conference Tips Everyone Should be Doing;  #ATD2015 It’s a Wrap Part One: Sue Prenderville


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Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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