2022 marked the year in which live, face-to-face events came back. Some of the early events were postponed to May and will stay there in 2023 (and beyond?), so keep your eyes peeled. May will likely be the live-event-stuffed month of the year.
But before you start thinking about all the events you can visit again soon, let’s take a look at where we went to last year.
Travelling abroad for conferences and exhibitions
Going back to normal
Regarding international events, I had the privilege to visit and speak at the Learning Solutions Conference. My colleague Roy and I talked about Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) for learning design. It was in April, and the conference organisers had a smart system with coloured wristbands in place to regulate social distancing.
Earlier in April, I was part of the EU panel when we recorded the session ‘The Digital Learning Boom – What Is Next? It is set to be launched at the ATD International Conference and Exhibition in May. We didn’t attend the conference in 2022, but our colleagues, René, Robbert and Thijs were at our booth at the exhibition.
I guess looking back now, April can be seen as the turning point for going ‘back to normal’. Also content-wise, COVID-related topics disappeared rather quickly from the conferences’ agendas. At Learntec Germany in June, where I joined to do a session about Learning Ecosystems, there was nothing much left regarding COVID measures.
At the end of 2022, I was invited to speak at Online Educa Berlin and the ELF in Warsaw – both on Jobs-to-be-Done for learning design. There was not much left of measures or speaking topics related to COVID. The vibe at Online Educa Berlin was very optimistic, and it showed that a lot of participants (the majority of them representing Higher Education) kind of celebrated meeting their peers again in person. The ELF conference is a very nice and well-organised event. It was great for meeting the vibrant Polish (and neighbour) L&D community.
Events in The Netherlands and Belgium
What was happening closeby
Online, live and hybrid events
Looking back at what was happening in the Netherlands and Belgium, the year started with a nice online event with a large group of participants. It was organised by the active L&D community called ‘LOSmakers’ with whom I shared Jobs-to-be-Done for learning design.
In Belgium, the bi-yearly VOV event, which was postponed in 2021, was rescheduled for late April 2022. The number of participants was lower than before, and some were still a bit hesitant or uncomfortable to join live. However, the atmosphere was excellent as always, and I had a ‘full house’ at my session on ‘How to Handle the Skills Obsession’.
The same kind of hesitation was in the air at the Dutch national conference NextLearning earlier in April. We had the privilege to have keynote speaker Will Talheimer for an exclusive masterclass the day after the conference. In May, the Dutch L&D member association, Develhub, had their yearly event at a wonderful location de Apenheul in Apeldoorn. Together with my former colleague Jos, we moderated the highly interactive ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ wrap-up session. It showed us and all participants the highlights of the great event. I was a bit sad because it also was my last project with Jos.
Looking back at spring 2022, I have to admit our own aNewSpring awards event was an absolute highlight! It was a beautiful spring day on 24th March when the crowd gathered in Rotterdam (and online). It is always very special and inspiring to get impressive ‘real-world work’ showcased at this event and celebrate with winners.
The last event that I participated in was the ATD EU Summit in December in Amsterdam. I had the opportunity to be in a panel and my topic was ‘put the learner first’. It was nice for me and aNewSpring to be visible on stage and via social media. Besides that, I enjoyed meeting some people from my network and also extending it a bit more.
Events organised by partners
In the spotlight
From all over the world
I also want to take the opportunity to mention some of our partner events here. aNewspring has some international partners, and we are proud of the work they do and even more related to their events.
New Leaf Technologies in South Africa has a great reputation for offering the e-Learning Indaba event for many years in a row now. Inmisceo in the UK has a great reputation for organising the ‘Future-proof your Training Business’ event, which has been going on for many years in a row too.
Colleagues Jacco and Thijs joined Australian partner ReadyTech at the National VET conference in Gold Coast. ReadyTech is doing some important work in that area. Our base of partners continues to grow and, along with it, their events too over the coming years – so keep an eye out for that!
Some useful tips
Reflecting on a year full of events, I can recommend a few things that might be useful this year:
Live events will give you inspiration and maybe even concrete solutions for the things that you are working on. That is obvious. Don’t underestimate the value of personal relationships that you build during a shared experience like a conference. It will grow your ‘warm network’, which you can reach out to for future challenges.
Surprise yourself. I like events where you can get a fresh perspective on things. I also like events with speakers from different industries or backgrounds who can provide you with a different angle to look at your work and find new solutions.
Follow your ‘mweh’. At events with parallel sessions, I always try to follow one that appears as ‘mweh’ to me. With ‘mweh’, I mean a topic or a context that certainly wouldn’t be my first spontaneous choice. It can be your ‘blind spot’, and it is very valuable to get rid of that blind spot. It’s a bit risky. Sometimes, your initial ‘mweh’ will get confirmed, but it is also the way to discover hidden gems.
Having shared these tips, you might get curious about the best events in 2023.