Off Topic: ATD Techknowledge or DevLearn?

Jul 19, 2016

I would love to go to both, but that is definitely not happening, so which one gets you the most bang for your buck? I'm looking at 2017, so Techknowledge is clearly much sooner (Jan), and that is appealing, but the 2016 DevLearn program looks super intriguing. I imagine 2017 will be as well, even if it is well over a year away (Nov).


4 Replies
David Kelly

Hi Rebekah-

I think it's great that you ask this question. Between travel and registration fees, the decision of which conference to attend is not one to take lightly. 

First, a disclaimer: I'm the Executive Director for The eLearning Guild, so my bias leans me to say "DevLearn, of course!", but I can't in good conscious do that. Context matters, so it's really not a question of which event is better; it's a question of which event is better for YOU.

Here are some questions you could ask yourself that can help when comparing events:

"Who runs each event?"

Every event you could consider is being organized by some person or organization. That matters. Are you more connected to one organization/community than the other? Do you want to strengthen existing relationships or expand your network into new groups? Sometimes a key factor isn't the event itself, but the community that gathers around it.

"What is this event ABOUT?"

The key word of that question is "about". On just about every conference website there's an "About this event" page, even if it's often called something else. That description usually tells you the themes and purpose of the event, as well as who the event is targeted for. That's a great thing to read and then ask yourself "Does it sound like they're talking to me?"

"Do I like larger events with lots of attendees, or smaller events with a more intimate crowd?"

I would not describe either Techknowledge or DevLearn as an intimate event. Both attract a sizable crowd. Devlearn has historically been a noticeably larger crowd.

"Who are the keynote speakers?"

This question is less about the keynotes themselves and more about what the keynotes represent. If the keynotes are the tent poles around which a conference program is built, those keynotes should, in theory, resonate with what the conference is all about. You can pretty easily find information about keynotes from past events with a targeted google search. Sometimes looking at what the keynotes are exploring can help you know if the overall tone of the event is right for you.

There are other questions you can ask, but as a comment, this is probably too long already. Maybe you've inspired me to expand upon these thoughts in a blog post. :-)

I'm happy to have a conversation if you'd like to dig deeper into your specific questions.

And one more thing for the sake of clarity - DevLearn moves back to October in 2017.

I hope this helps.


Justin Brusino

Hi Rebekah,

Thanks for the question. As with David, a quick disclaimer: I work for ATD as the Learning Technologies Community Manager, so I’m involved closely with the programming of ATD’s TechKnowledge Conference.

David did a nice job with his response. I’ll just add that programming is key. What are you interested in learning about? Are you dealing with specific challenges that you need help with right now? Are you looking to explore new trends and innovations? Figure out what your goals are, then take some time to review the sessions and other programming for the events and see what the best fit is. (We’re in the process of finalizing programming for TechKnowledge 2017 and will add that to the website next month.)

If you have any questions, I’d love to connect and chat more. Feel free to email me


Ulises Musseb

Under the umbrella of Instructional design and elearning there are many, many topics, and many, many areas of interest to different professionals. To me it's about (a) what's best for my specific line of work, so I can justify all the expenses and bring something useful back to my workplace, and (b) What I find interesting and innovative for my purposes. Both conferences bring a wealth of information, and I wish I could attend both, but I go with the one that gives my specific line of work and career interests.

That said, if one conference brings something that I find mind-blowing innovative and cool, all of the above gets completely overwritten.

Zsolt Olah


It depends on what YOU want to take away from the conference. A good way of getting first hand information is to connect with those who regularly attend conferences. Check out the backchannel information post-conferences. Many presenters are also active on social media and  happy to answer questions. Also, after a conference you can often read blog posts on the actual experience and curated takeaways. If you work for a company that can afford to send multiple people, you can also split attendance. 


This discussion is closed. You can start a new discussion or contact Articulate Support.