The top 10 learning and development conferences of the year
Beyond the allure of traveling to exciting stateside destinations like Las Vegas, or international tourist hot spots like Palma de Mallorca, Spain, learning and development conferences serve an important purpose among L&D leaders – it gives them a chance to stay at the forefront of their field.
When an organization sends an individual or a group to a learning and development conference, the ripple effect is felt far and wide. It not only empowers the attendees with new knowledge and ideas, but when they return to the office and apply their learnings, they’re better able to support their fellow employees. This impacts the entire organization’s development efforts.
Top learning and development conferences
From Corporate Learning Week to ATD’s International Conference, the keynote speakers, topic areas, and pool of attendees can vary greatly from conference to conference. Below are some of the most popular events your team can attend to level up the organization’s L&D function.
1. Corporate Learning Week
More than just an excuse to visit Las Vegas, Corporate Learning Week (CLW) is one of the flagship learning and development conferences for a reason. Targeting L&D teams who want to improve performance, maximize profits, and make more strategic decisions to future-proof their workforce, CLW has been around for over 25 years.
Attendees can expect to learn from inspirational speakers, like Kelsey Kates – Google’s Global Head of Live Learning Experience, and Sandra Humbles – Chief Learning Officer of Johnson & Johnson. With breakout topics such as “Measuring the Return on Impact of Leadership and Essential Skills Programs,” “Preparing your Strategic L&D Plan Scorecard,” and “Connecting Learning and Skills to Workforce Planning, Career Paths, and Job Architecture,” attendees are likely to uncover high-impact takeaways for their organization.
Like the CLO Exchange, Corporate Learning Week is also produced by IQPC and in partnership with the Corporate Learning Network. Registration for the event starts around $2,700.
2. ATD International Conference
Few names say learning and development like the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the world’s largest talent development association. ATD’s premiere event, the ATD International Conference, aims to build upon its reputation by uniting over 9,500 professionals from around the world in locales like New Orleans, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, for a few days of learning, networking, and fun.
ATD features high-profile keynote speakers like Adam Grant and offers unique events such as a networking night, the world’s largest training and talent development expo, and facilitated “community conversations” where professionals can connect to discuss common challenges. Tickets can range from around $2,000 for early-bird ATD members, to just under $2,800 for non-ATD members.
A few additional features that help ATD stand out among other learning and development conferences — participants are eligible to earn continuing education credits with the ATD Certification Institute, HRCI, and SHRM. Furthermore, there’s a virtual program that offers live-streamed sessions, on-demand educational sessions, and speaker Q&A.
3. Training Conference & Expo
The Training Conference & Expo is one of the leading industry events each year. Produced by Training magazine and its publisher Lakewood Media Group, this multi-day learning and development conference has been around for over 45 years and brings together more than 2,000 attendees annually.
Held in Orlando, Florida at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, the event attracts a wide range of L&D professionals, from chief learning officers to instructional designers. The conference offers over 100 breakout sessions, hands-on clinics, training technology “test kitchens,” and powerful keynotes. The rate for a ticket usually falls at just under $2,000.
The Training Conference & Expo even offers a prepared letter with session lists and an expense worksheet as helpful resources for potential attendees. Plus, attendees can earn ATD continuing education credits as part of their attendance.
4. Chief Learning Officer Exchange
The CLO Exchange is two-and-a-half days of thought-provoking sessions, panel discussions, executive roundtables, and networking in the heart of the entertainment industry in Hollywood, California. This invitation-only conference is unique in that it leverages an “exchange” format where face-to-face meetings between solution providers and senior decision makers are prioritized.
Previous speakers at the event include senior leaders from global brands, such as the Chief Learning Officer of Intel – Noah Rabinowitz – and the VP of Talent Development at LinkedIn – Linda Jingfang Cai. The event is organized by the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC), in partnership with the Corporate Learning Network. The IQPC is an organization that hosts over 2,000 conferences worldwide, and the Corporate Learning Network is IQPC’s learning portal designed to connect senior leaders with the training they need.
Because this is one of the more exclusive learning and development conferences – with a total attendance of around 75-100 chief learning officers – those interested in attending must reach out to the IQPC and request an invitation. A potential attendee’s company must also meet certain criteria, such as full-time employee headcount, to be considered.
5. Training Industry Conference & Expo
While Raleigh, North Carolina might not scream “excitement” like the other locales on this list, the Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE) carves out a unique niche by being a little more accessible and personal. The cost of registration falls around $1,600 and Raleigh-Durham International Airport is nearby. Plus, average attendance is typically below 500 people, creating more personal networking opportunities.
Past keynote speakers have included best-selling author Scott Hartley and the Chief Marketing Officer of IDEO, Whitney Mortimer. The event is produced by Training Industry, one of the most trusted learning publishers which runs both TrainingIndustry.com and Training Industry Magazine.
6. Chief Learning Officer Symposium
Networking opportunities are the #1 reason attendees say they return to the CLO Symposium year after year. Additionally, the Symposium offers exciting workshop topics, such as “The Future of Learning: Increasing the Agility of Your L&D” and “Building Future-Fit Leaders Through Coaching.”
Another one of the top learning and development conferences available, this event offers educational workshops with real-world success stories and inspiring keynotes that promise to “engage and embolden” attendees.
Tickets for the Chief Learning Officer Symposium are around $3,300 each, but early bird tickets are also available. The event is put together by BetterWork Media Group, the parent company of Chief Learning Officer and Talent Management.
Hailing from “The Sin City” every October, DevLearn promotes itself as a place to explore the future of learning technologies. DevLearn is a three-day event and one of the largest learning and development conferences in North America.
With over 4,000 attendees on average, participants can expect to mingle with instructional designers and chief learning officers from companies like Amazon, Apple, and Ford. Unique events at DevLearn consist of DemoFest – an informal science fair for learning projects, and Morning Buzz – early-morning discussions about trends in L&D. Past keynote speakers have included renowned physicist Michio Kaku and best-selling author Kevin Bethune.
The conference is produced by The Learning Guild, a community of practice for those supporting the design, development, strategy, and management of organizational learning. It’s also produced in partnership with Training Industry and ATD.
Teams that are able to travel abroad should explore EduLearn, a renowned global education conference that unites researchers, technologists, and professionals from the educational sector in Spain every summer. Edulearn prides itself on bringing together over 800 delegates from 80 different countries, offering one of the most diverse networking opportunities at any conference.
While travel expenses might be steep, attendees get to take advantage of the opportunity to visit historical landmarks and beautiful landscapes. Furthermore, conference registration is less than $700. There is also an online version for teams who can’t make the trip.
Previous keynotes at EduLearn have included Dr. Michelle Weise, the author of Long-Life Learning, and artificial intelligence researcher Dr. Wayne Holmes. This conference is produced by the International Academy of Technology, Education, and Development (IATED) – an organization dedicated to the promotion of international education and university cooperation in the field of technology and science.
9. Learning Solutions Conference & Expo
If your L&D team is looking to discover practical solutions and strategies they can use right away, a few days in Orlando at the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo might be exactly what they need.
This conference attracts hundreds of instructional designers, training managers, L&D executives, and more. Events include an Instructional Design Summit, and session topics range from eLearning game development to reimagining microlearning.
We’re big fans of learning and development conferences with interesting speakers, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Keynote speakers have included Crystal Washington – one of Forbes’ 50 Leading Female Futurists, and Mike Massimino – former NASA astronaut. The Learning Solutions Conference & Expo is produced by The Learning Guild. Tickets are around $1,900 with a discounted rate for Learning Guild members.
10. Corporate Learning & Development Forum
The Corporate Learning & Development Forum is a multi-day, invitation only experience hosted at high-end destinations. The Forum offers a blend of active panel discussions and intimate breakout sessions for hundreds of senior HR leaders.
The idea for the Forum came about as a desire to challenge the conventions of mega learning and development conferences. Instead, Consero Group (the Forum’s architect) is focused on building a transformative network through dynamic content and conversation.
Participants lucky enough to attend this conference will be exchanging ideas with the most prestigious learning thought leaders in the world. Keynote speakers include Dr. Eli Bendet-Tachier, the Head of Global Learning and Development at Wix, who is also an advisory board member of the event.
Ultimately, learning and development conferences are a chance for employees to connect with people outside of their bubble and explore new ideas. So it’s important that leaders set clear expectations for them around how to engage at the conference, and what they’ll bring back.
Sending a few employees to a conference each year can be highly beneficial, especially for teams looking for fresh and innovative ideas. With the many opportunities for learning and networking at a conference, those few days out of the office have the potential to create big “eureka” moments for L&D teams.