Conference Attendance: What's the Value?

Many of my co-workers are no longer attending professional conferences. As I develop next year’s plan to improve my own professional practice as a technology leader, should I include conferences related to this topic?

You cannot rely on conferences alone for sustained professional growth; however, attending one or two carefully selected conferences each year that incorporate technology leadership topics can be an important piece in your overall strategy to improve your professional practice. Conferences are intellectual smorgasbords, providing opportunities to get quick overviews of new ideas and trends, review the latest commercial products (e.g., publications, software, hardware), and to develop professional networks.

Do some preplanning to make the best use of your time there. Before attending a conference, use pre-conference materials and online schedules to identify sessions and speakers of interest. Review the list of vendors who will be present in the exhibit hall to identify those ‘must see’ booths ahead of time. Also, look for ‘birds-of-a-feather,’ special interest groups, and affiliate organization meetings that will allow you to connect with educators who have similar interests. While at the conference, keep in mind how the information you are gathering may or may not apply to your site. Finally, develop a follow-up plan for sharing what you learn with fellow administrators and site staff.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young