High Ed Web 2017: A Hart(ford) for Higher Ed

Some super awesome presenter talking about Docker at HighEdWeb. Man does that guy look handsome ;)

Some super awesome presenter talking about Docker at HighEdWeb. Man does that guy look handsome 😉 photo credit HighEdWeb.

I’ve only been home for a few hours, but the lessons and memories of HighEdWeb 2017 are still fresh on my mind.  I feel like one of the few people on earth that actually recharge at a conference, but after WPCampus earlier in the year, I was ready to get back out and network with my fellow web geeks again.  Yes, I’m exhausted, and yes it’s great to be home, but I can honestly say it was one of the favorite conferences I’ve been to.

Fantastic Content

A lot of the conferences I attend tend to be geared toward a certain type of people: marketing, social media, developer people with a focus on business. And while that’s not a bad thing, I always appreciate a fresh perspective when it comes to the content. HighEdWeb’s focus is purely Higher Education – and it’s awesome to see what other institutions are doing to push the envelope with web, social, and marketing stuff.  I sat in on a few sessions and all of them were extremely informative and entertaining.

  • I’ve been working on a new campus map for Vanderbilt, and there were several map-focused sessions intersecting various pieces of the map puzzle.
  • Knowing that others in the field are going through the same things you are going through? Priceless.
  • A deep(er) dive into WP-CLI – something I’ve been exploring in my workflow both at work and on freelance projects.

And that’s just a cross-section of the amazing content there.

Inspiring Keynotes

I’m going to be honest: I’ve been looking forward to Felicia Day’s keynote ever since it was announced. And it was everything I hoped it was. What I -didn’t- expect was to be blown away by Tatjana Dzambazova’s keynote, and a look into what she’s done for both the maker movement and the future of technology. 3D Printing, virtualization of real life environments… I felt like I was looking into the future, happening now.

And yes, Felicia Day’s keynote was EXCEPTIONAL. It’s a bit surreal to hear her story, since it mirrors my own so closely: a rural kid turns to the internet for friendship, learn French and how powerful community is. Technology changed my life, and I learned today it did the same for her and her career.

Personal Development

I was extremely fortunate to be able to present a session at this year’s conference. I chose “Local Development Made Easy” as my topic, and was able to talk about something that’s changed my development life: Docker.

I was even more blown away, however, when my session was announced as this year’s “Best in Track” for the development track. I received one of the coveted “red staplers” and was asked to present again. I didn’t win the “Best in Conference”, but from what I heard the session that won absolutely deserved it!.

Felicia Day signed my stapler. It was a good day.

Felicia Day signed my stapler. It was a good day.

Out of the Gate

Don’t get me wrong: I love coming out of a conference fired up and ready to change the world – and HighEdWeb was no difference – but this time, it’s got me taking a long hard look at my priorities in life. I have so many wonderful, amazing ideas I want to pursue, and at the end of the day I just want to make sure I’m making time for what matters: myself, my family, and to be able to invest some time into doing something awesome.

I’ve got ideas, for sure. I’ve come off this conference remembering how much I love teaching. I want to get back to writing guides, doing videos, and other stuff that people can use to learn to do their craft better. And beyond that? Who knows. All I know is that I want to do something amazing, and I can’t wait to get started.

HighEdWeb’s got a special place in my heart. It’s only my second year, but the people there make it truly special. They are people passionate about the web, and using it to shape and mold the people that are the future of our country. And in today’s culture, anything we can do to spread a little love around – whether it’s online or in real life – is worth doing well. And bettering ourselves with technology? That helps us do  it even better.

Featured Photo Credit: Lacy Paschal (@lacydev)

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