TechLearn Community

The TechLearn community convened in Orlando this Sunday through midday Wednesday for the sixth time in five years. Why do I say community instead of conference or show? Because Elliott Masie and his acolytes have created a culture replete with rituals, castes, customs, expectations, and entertainment.

I asked two-dozen people, half newbies and half old-timers what they thought of TechLearn. Every one -- every single one! -- said TechLearn was the best show they’d ever attended. New people are attracted by Elliott’s reputation; his broad contacts are an early warning system for the industry. Old hands come to find out what’s going on, to sniff out business, and to renew friendships. This was my fifth consecutive TechLearn, and I felt like I was returning for a club meeting.

1452.5 people from 37 countries came to Disney’s Coronado Springs hotel to pass the talking stick this year. (The .5 is a prenancy.) This year’s group was more senior in their organizations, perhaps a reflection of budget restrictions on travel for the junior folks. About a third were first-timers. A large contingent were members of the consortium (whose employers kick in $5,000 a year for membership.)

How do Elliott, his wife Cathy, and his partner Stan, pull this off?

  • Elliott instructs the “faculty,” i.e. all presenters, in their three roles. First, they give their presentations – as free of jargon as possible. Second, they are to raise the level of enthusiasm. Third, if they see some forlorn soul, they are to introduce themselves, get this person engaged, and introduce him or her to others.
  • An energetic faculty member (this year Beth Thomas took on the role) leads orientations to get people in the mood, to create a safe space, to encourage camaraderie, and to have fun.
  • The agenda is chock full of breaks, social events, table exercises, and entertainment to encourage schmoozing. People have a choice of buttons to wear as conversation-starters. Seating is round tables, not rows of chairs.
  • The content is top-drawer. Now that eLearning is more than a dream or a pilot, organizations are presenting real case examples. It’s exciting to see the major strides many organizations are taking.
  • Vendors are present but are kept in check. Some of us feared that Advanstar’s commercialism might tarnish the atmosphere. It turned out that the small expo hall was quite contained, appropriately occupying the space where the resource center (filled with PCs in prior years) had been. Years of practice running thousands of events have taught Advanstar the ropes. Their professionalism showed in their unobtrusiveness.
  • And of course, there’s Elliott himself, larger than life. (Joke!) “Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? E-L-L-I, O-T-T, M-A-S-I-E.” Get this. At the entrance to Disney MGM, Elliott, Cathie, and Advanstar’s Joe Flynn shook hands with everyone attending TechLearn.

Another tradition: Booz Allen’s Mike Parmentier, assisted by his former colleagues at ADL, prepares a trip report summarizing the entire event. I don’t intend to reinvent the wheel. Besides, with as many as 25 concurrent sessions, it’s impossible for any one individual to take part in more a small fraction of the show. Download the trip report for the facts. The Masie Center is working away right now to post presentations and streaming audio; I'll note when things start to appear.

Here on the Blog, I’ll add color commentary, opinions, and a few photographs.

Posted by Jay Cross at October 31, 2002 10:59 AM | TrackBack

30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708

1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)

Subscribe to this Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe. We vow never to share your information with anyone. No Spam.

Subscribe Unsubscribe

Reference Pages

Building Community
CSS, Semantic Mark-Up, and codes
First Principles
How People Learn
Knowledge Management
Learning Links
Learning Standards
Making It Work (Implementing)
Metrics & ROI
Social Software
String theory
The eLearning Museum
Visual Learning


Our Infrequent Newsletter
Sign up for our sporadic newsletter.

Entries by category...

Customer care
Emergent Learning
Just Jay
Recycled from Blogger
The Industry
Workflow-based eLearning


Internet Time Group

© 2004 Internet Time Group

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast
Berkeley, California

Recent entries

New Blog
Blogger Experience, Housekeeping, Something New
Loosely Coupled
Above all
Demographics is destiny
Are you setting the bar high enough?
Virtual Apps
Aerobic Learning
Work as Video Game
Oracle and Macromedia, Sitting in a Tree
The Blogosphere
ASTD Silicon Valley
Performance Support
Kingsbridge Conference Center
First Post by Email
Inactive Blog
RSS Feed for New Site
Comment Spam
Testing ... testing ... 1...2..3
IT Doesn't Matter - Learning Does.
All blogging is political
Mutlimedia Learning
Damn, damn, double damn
Nonverbal impact?
The New Religion
Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!
Business Process Management (2)
Really Big
Business Process Management Conference
Don't Lose a Common Sense: LISTEN
It's only natural
Go with the flow
Time Out for the Fair
Informal get-together in SF this Wednesday
Repetition, reverb, and echoes
Who Knows?
Cognitive Mapping
Push vs pull
The Big Picture on ROI
Art Break
TDF Finale
New Community of Practice Forming
More TDF04
Training Directors Forum 2004
A Rare One-Liner
PlaNetwork LIVE 2
PlaNetwork LIVE
ASTD 2004 Leftovers
Worker Effectiveness Improvement, not KM
Upcoming Events
eLearning Effectiveness?
Jay's Talk at ASTD
Mintzberg & Cooperider
Lest ye forget
ASTD International Conference & Exposition 2004
Knowledge Tips
What is Workflow Learning?
ASTD msg 1 of n
Look out, it's Outlook
Collaboration at ASTD Next Week
Tell me a story
User indifference
The shortest presentation on metrics you will ever hear
Back to Blogger
Windows fixes
The Alchemy of Growth
Grab bag
Very loosely coupled
E-Learning from Practice to Profit
Robin Good kicks off Competitive Edge
China Bloggers
Sonoma Dreaming
Upcoming Events
Emergent Learning Forum: Simulations
The Best Things in Life Are Free
Metrics and Web Services
OpEd: ROI vs. Metrics
e-Merging e-Learning
Loosely Coupled
Search me