This year (at last) we return to a couple of really great scheduling features for Tech*Ed EMEA. I have consistently moaned about their lack in previous years, so it’s only right to praise where praise is due.
Problem 1. Whilst some recent TEE events have had a scheduling facility online; it has been structured around just one event per timeslot. This means that if you are not sure what to attend, or want to schedule a fall back option, you can’t (other than using a paper based system).
Problem 2. Handheld information. For a few years, whilst Microsoft were promoting the Windows platform on Compaq iPaq and others, the support crew (brilliantly led by Andrew Cheeseman) developed an offline app for session planning, feedback etc. Sadly that died, and despite requests, never came back.
But, hallelujah, an app is back (on Windows, iOS, and Android) from EventBoard: http://europe.msteched.com/news/pin-to-start-download-teched-europe-s-free-mobile-companion-now
The app works offline (so it should) but when you connect will also give you up to date notifications of session changes etc, and allow you to do session evaluations as well. All that the old app used to do!
One feature you might not notice at first – as this is a generic app for other events as well. If you want to synchronise your session between devices, then on loading for the first time – create your login account first, *before* you enter the Tech*Ed content. Once you are in the Tech*Ed stuff, login is not exposed as a function (or at least I couldn’t find it!).
So, once you are running what should you do? I strongly recommend the following:
- Schedule for the speakers you like – even one or two for the wisecracks rather than the content.
- Schedule for the track(s) you need to follow
- Then just browse for anything of interest.
- Put them *ALL* in your schedule
- Leave it a day or two, then review by the timeslot and spring clean the more obvious clashes or silly choices.
- Leave *at least* 2 or 3 sessions per timeslot in your diary. I sometimes have 7 or 8 in the time slot as legitimate subjects of interest. As the week progresses some will become redundant (or moved/repeated); make sure you have everything you might possibly want to learn in Amsterdam.
- By the end of the evening before, trim your schedule to just 2 or 3 per time slot for the following day. Make sure you know where the rooms are – this is important as having started your first choice and decided it is rubbish – you know which room to dash to next!
- Don’t forget the exhibition is a valid use of at least 1 time slot J
On the day – choosing sessions from those last 2 or 3:
One thing later editions of the old app had was access to the PPT decks for the sessions. Provided I can see the decks I have a very simple rule of thumb. The fewer slides, the better the presentation.
- If you have a session with a deck of 30 odd slides then, even when discounting the half a dozen or so marketing and summary slides, that’s still a lot of content. A lot of the information you will get in the session is on the deck, so read that instead.
- If you have a session with 8 slides, that promises lots of extra information on the subject, and probably a few demos as well. That (for me) is much higher value.
Lastly, one (sadly) unknown problem may remain: feedback at Tech*Ed is based on just one session per timeslot. Thus if you bail out of a really bad one and go to another you can either penalise the bad one, or praise the second one – but not both. I do hope that the organisers will allow multiple feedback per time slot. They really *need* to know a session was so bad I left it after 5 minutes.