Why Collaborative In Person Learning Works

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Editor’s Note:  This is a guest post by Brittany Martin, a product marketing manager and recent transplant to the Bay Area from Pittsburgh, PA.  Prior to joining us in California, Brittany was a curator of StartupDigest, Pittsburgh.  She just began a new PM gig at ReadyForce, and is thrilled to be on their team and on ours.  Follow her @BrittJMartin and read her new blog, San Francisco via Pittsburgh.  Join us in welcoming Brittany to San Francisco and to Startup Product!

I wanted to learn about forums: how to create, moderate and monetize them. There are dozens of places on the internet that are eager to teach me but I chose to attend Forumcon 2013 in San Francisco instead. It proved to be a good decision. I was exposed to the thoughts and exercises from the people who are labeled experts on forums. After the intensive one day conference, I felt like I had compressed a crash course on forums in my head.

Why was it such a success? Was it the expert’s advice? The excellent planning and accompanying materials? The excellent venue (and fabulous coffee that went with it)?

While these certainly helped, the key for me was the conversations that I had in between sessions. The kind of conversations that lead to the killer question, “…and why are you attending this?” I was asked this so many times that I found myself revising my answer to an actual attainable goal. Then as I sat through sessions, I made meaningful connections to what I needed to learn to reach those goals.

The conference attendees shared the experience of ForumCon in a way that was important. Regardless of your knowledge on forums, all of the attendees were treated equally. This made a beginner feel at home but there was enough content for intermediate levels to feel challenged. The world is making strides towards collaborative learning online but to me, those side in-person conversations will be hard to replace.

This is another reason why I’m excited to be contributing towards the Startup Product Summit SF2 coming up on October 11th, 2013. Everyone will be encouraged to contribute their point of view, workshop their product dilemma, and share their lessons learned. The conversations between attendees will be just as meaningful as the ones between the attendees and speakers.

Let us know in the comments what conferences you have attended and how they benefited you. I hope to meet you in person in October.


Don’t forget to register for Startup Product Summit SF2!  You have time left to get in on the Super Early Bird price.

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