Can’t be at the ATD ICE 2016 Conference? Join Virtually

ATD ICE Conference 2016

Anticipation! ATD ICE 2016 Conference!

In 4 days!

I’m so excited!

A couple of years I asked Mark Sheppard to write a bit about joining this conference from the back channel and I asked him to revised his thoughts for another guest post this year.

So ATD ICE 2016 (Association for Talent Development International Conference and Expo) is upon us. But you won’t be there. I will be truly sorry to have missed you. (Cue sad face)

Mark won’t be there again this year. (Cue another sad face)

But won’t he?

He will be there in spirit. In the Backchannel. That’s the beauty of technology these days, we can be anywhere and pretty much have a front row seat. I asked Mark to give me his insights as to how he will be participating from afar and his advice on making use of the backchannel. What’s a backchannel you may ask? Well here’s David Kelly to tell us more.

My advice, find someone who will be there and who you follow (ahem…learning rebels perhaps?), open up a dedicated stream on hootesuite or tweetdeck just for them and then open one for #ATD2016 and you will get all sorts of great information.

Not on twittter, well okay then – go to the Learning Rebels Facebook page, like us and keep an eye on the stream. (You can also find information on ATD ICE 2016 on the ATD Facebook page). You know me, I love to take pictures and there will be lots posted there with info on the conference chattering.  So be sure to check and interact, I’ll be there to answer your questions! I’ll be posting my plan for the day, so if you have questions about the conference happenings post them there.

So on to Mark!


Guest Post: Mark Sheppard 

Mark Sheppard

Not able to attend ATD ICE 2016 this year? That’s OK!

It’s that time of year again and the ATD International Conference and Exhibition is upon us, this time, in Denver, CO. As much as we would all like to be there, we know it’s not possible (funding, timing, other commitments, or combinations thereof). I know many folks lament the missed opportunities from having to forego attendance but there’s some good news.

All is not lost.

When Shannon originally asked me to pen a piece on participation without presence, I merely reflected on how I coped with my own, lamented crying jags over not being able to go to all these awesome events and tried to offer some fairly basic tools and mechanisms. There are some who still believe that “attendance demands presence”, and to that I say, “Nay!” This is the connected knowledge society and if we don’t step up and take ownership of our own PD, nobody else will.

The point to consider is that the argument isn’t about remote participation being “better or worse” than actually being there, it’s just a different dynamic and a constraint you need to work around. So, with that in mind, I am going to repeat a couple of my key messages from two years ago and add a couple of new thoughts.

Okay, so you can’t go to this conference, so what?  You’re on a computer, aren’t you?  You have access to the Interwebz, don’t you?  You have a PLN (Personal Learning Network), don’t you? If you answered, “yes” to any of those questions, you’re in luck. You can get a lot of the insights shared from the conference, and while it might take some work on your part, it’s well worth the effort.

Find that Backchannel.

Following conference hashtags via Twitter (#ATD2016) is a simple way to see what’s happening. You can get snippets and snapshots and other bite-size pieces from conference attendees. For a lot of non-attendees, this is how they follow what happens and what is said at the conference.

Twitter limits you to 140 characters. Among the criticisms of Twitter is lack depth or context in conversations or messages. At worst, it becomes a massive game of broken telephone when longer messages get truncated or edited to fit the <140 constraint.  The character limit also makes real curation difficult. So that begs the question of how to get deeper learning from your lurking?

  1. Let’s assume you have a Personal Learning Network of some kind. Let’s start using it. Find who might be going.  Find who might know someone who might be attending.  Start building a network of personal correspondents.
  2. Take the time to study the conference agenda, see what’s interesting, find the speakers who inspire you, reach out and get YOUR questions answered. Have that PLN help to get your questions answered.
  3. Find out who might be blogging the event and writing more detailed reflections and recaps. Start commenting or asking questions.

Networking is something we should all be doing anyway, and a conference event is a great catalyst for forging new connections.

If you want to make sense of the backchannel stream here’s where some of the harder work comes in. To get some depth to what you have seen from your PLN and perhaps to get access to things you didn’t see, take advantage of Storify (  You can use it extract relevant tweets, pictures, FB posts…in fact, almost any online source.  (FYI – the hashtag #ATD2016 is also active on Facebook and Instagram) This is your way of getting ALL the backchannel conversations. The hard work comes in doing the filtering and the analysis. Where tools like Storify really come in handy is when events are hard to follow in real-time, or they are happening outside your usual timezone.

New Apps. New Dynamics

Conferences have become very smart about providing dedicated mobile applications to facilitate connections, manage schedules, and share insights. They have come a long way in the past two years, so they are worthy of deeper exploration. When I attended ATDTK in Las Vegas I was really impressed with the conference app so I can hope that the one for ICE is just as good.  What is really nice about the apps in general is that you can find ways make use of them even if you’re not at the conference! Not all conferences are created equal so you may be up against restrictions set by the organizers. That said, it’s worth exploring them. Almost all of them have built-in connections to the mainstream services like Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, so you have some options for cross-pollination and broad distribution of insights gleaned, shared, or created.
One interesting app use I experienced was the creation of ad-hoc Slack channels at the Institute for Performance and Learning (formerly CSTD) National Conference last year.  A number of participants were keen on exploring the flexibility and scalability of Slack for these pop-up communities. More importantly, they can enable participants to sustain sharing and learning post-Conference. Not that you couldn’t use Facebook for the same purpose, but the ease of use of Slack lets people manage their privacy and separation of personal/professional social media presence. While I haven’t seen it in use at a conference, I know many folks are keen on mobile tools like WhatsApp for purposes similar to what you get from Slack.
Not to be forgotten is the popular platform an other live streaming applications such as periscope, meerkat and Facebook live. Luminaries like Brent Schlenker have been very active in using Blab conversations to extend the conference experience. While there are some limits to the lifespan of the Blab chats, they are still rich in their “in-the-moment” conversations and reflections.
Finally, I know many folks (myself included) who have recorded YouTube reflections as a means of summarizing the day’s events and happenings.  While these video offerings lack the dynamic exchange of something like Blab, they do have a persistence quality hard to match.

Don’t See It? Create It!

As a parting thought – and this applies to participants and non-participants alike – don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a channel or avenue for conversation right away. There’s nothing to be lost by starting your own and leveraging the connections from your PLN to build a channel that works for you. So, start a Slack Group, or kick off a Blab, or fire up WhatsApp, or whatever works for you. Get as involved as you can, even if you’re not able to be there in person. You can only benefit from the effort, and, who knows…you might just find the insights you need to get through a sticky work problem, or to overcome a workplace objection for a new idea.  In-person, or remote, those gems are truly the rich findings of the conference experience.

Savour the experience, wherever you are. #LetsDoThis

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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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