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SchoologyNEXT-17; Bullet Points and Bacon

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any better, Schoology's national, actually worldwide, conference, SchoologyNEXT, was no ordinary gathering. Take one part reunion, one part celebration, one part mind-blowing demonstrations, one part dinosaur bones, and one part bacon; grab a thousand friends and mix it all up with a giant spoon, and BAM, you've cooked-up the tastiest conference event of the year! 

Here are a few of my takeaways from this year's event, hosted at Chicago's McCormick Place, July 23rd through July 26th.




  • Kudos to the planning and marketing teams at Schoology. I attend about six conferences each year, the attention to detail is unlike anything I've experienced at any other event. The signage, the badges, the publications; it was effortless to plan and navigate this conference experience. Admittedly biased because I live forty minutes from downtown, Chicago provided a perfect backdrop for this event. Excellent choice!
  • The variety and quality of the breakout sessions were extraordinary. I learned gamification strategies from Glen Irvin, digital storytelling techniques from Dylan Rodgers and Brad Kemp, and embedding modified HTML media from Jen Jonson. Always engaging and energetic, Jeremy Friedman and Ryan Hwang shared Schoology's vision, product roadmap, and new features. Get ready folks, 2017-2018 is going to be something special! 
  • Mindblowing and inspiring workshops with all of the relevant materials; slides, pages, links, and e-books posted within a highly organized, easy-to-navigate Schoology course. It was a pleasure getting to present with a few of my EDU-heroes; Gina Hartman, Kristie Burk, and Jared Lopatin. The pace of the conference schedule and the layout of the meeting rooms were much improved over previous events.
  • The learning didn't stop there. In the evening, you could have attended the popular Chicago architecture boat tour or the scrumptious Chicago pizza tour. Who rents out an entire museum for their conference dinner party? Schoology does. After snacking on delicious appetizers, Stephen Rao, Schoology's Ambassador of the Year, and I toured almost all of Chicago's Field Museum while others danced the Cha-Cha Slide on the main floor. Who says you can't mix culture and entertainment? It was an unforgettable night!
  • I have yet to mention two essential ingredients of a tech conference, food, and wi-fi. Off the charts! A rock solid connection throughout the event, no lagging or dropped signal whatsoever. Charging stations strategically located around heavy traffic areas within the conference hall. Bridget Heaton, Cory Klinge, and I co-hosted a live #SchoologyChat session Tuesday during the lunch break. People got to put faces to avatars, very fun! The provided breakfasts and lunches were outstanding, nutritious and flavorful. Bacon three mornings in a row, what could top that?
Finally, the most important aspect of an impressive conference is the people. It was terrific meeting and hanging IRL (in real life) with folks I usually interact with online. Schoology's leadership and programming teams were readily accessible, down-to-earth, and eager to answer everyone's questions. We, the enthusiastic attendees, rekindled old friendships and ignited new ones. Even folks who couldn't attend could share in the excitement through social media. It's tough to capture the totality of this fantastic event in five hundred words. This was my fourth SchoologyNEXT, in my opinion, it was the best yet. I can't wait to mark my calendar for SchoologyNEXT-18, I wouldn't miss it for the world!

DId you attend, physically or virtually, SchoologyNEXT-17? What are your takeaways, what did you enjoy most? Your comments are welcome and appreciated.



Comments

Marilyn said…
Bob, you couldn't have said it better. The BEST conference I have attended this year. Scoology out did themselves this year. The sessions were outstanding, the food fantastic, and the connections were made unforgettable. I personally cannot wait for next year. Thanks for the recap.
Kellie80 said…
You really captured so many of the powerful aspects of this year's conference. I love the "one part reunion, one part celebration" part of the post. Those varied ingredients combined for a really amazing experience. I have enjoyed getting to connect with you and so many others over the years, and it's sometimes hard for me to explain why NEXT is so different from other conferences. So, thanks for putting my thoughts into words. Looking forward to NEXT year!
It has been a good event according to your words. I would like to be there, but maybe your explanations has to be enough.

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