12 Ways to Get the Most Out of the 2021 Annual National Convening on Personalized Learning – Virtual This Year!

by Laura Vitale, Digital Media Specialist

We get it – like so much else this last year, our Annual Personalized Learning Convening is going to look different from years past. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will see and experience similarities to our previous conferences. For instance, there will be many opportunities to expand your knowledge of learner-centered practices. You will be able to connect with other educators across the country, even if it isn’t face-to-face. You will take away strategies that you can use right away in your classroom, school or district the very next day.

That being said, because it is a new format, below are some suggestions to get the most out of this first ever virtual convening – before, during and after.


  • Review the agenda: The good news is that this year, ALL of the sessions will be available to you on-demand through April 30! However, we know that you might not have the time to engage deeply with all of them. Before the conference launches, take some time to review the agenda and note which sessions are “must attend” for you. Then explore others as you have additional time.
  • Block off time on your calendar: Just like an in-person conference, it is important to allow yourself dedicated time to “soak in” the learning gained in the sessions. This year’s virtual format allows you much more flexibility to do that based on your schedule and availability. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the online platform: Take a few minutes before the launch to make sure you can sign into Buzz, the online platform where the session recordings will be housed. If you are able to attend the live launch on Feb 8 or 9, make sure you are able to connect to Zoom.


  • Attend the live launch: If at all possible, we encourage you to attend one or both of the live launch sessions. This will get you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the conference. It will also allow you to “see” others who are attending and start to make connections.
  • Go old school: Consider taking notes during the sessions the old-fashioned way – by hand! This will allow you to really concentrate on what the presenter is saying rather than flipping back and forth on your computer between the session and your electronic notes.
  • Build in breaks: If you are blocking off large chunks of time to view the sessions, build in breaks for yourself. Get up to grab a snack or a beverage, or take a quick walk around the block (or inside if the weather isn’t cooperating) to refresh yourself. We know you aren’t in a conference vacuum, so this is also a good time to check your phone and email and answer messages.
  • Set up times to network: Just because this is a virtual event doesn’t mean you can’t network! If you know of others who are “attending” the convening, set up a time to connect and share ideas. Or reach out to Institute staff or presenters with questions.
  • Set aside time to review your notes: As the convening winds down, take some time to look at your notes. If you have questions about what you wrote, or “I wonders” about any sessions, go back and rewatch them. Take your time, pause the recording and replay as necessary. You control the pace!


  • Make an action plan: Review the sessions you participated in. Determine your key takeaways and set up action items and a timeline to implement what you’ve learned.
  • Follow up with presenters or Institute staff: Just because the convening is done doesn’t mean you can’t gain additional learning. If you still have questions about something from a session, reach out to the presenter about it. If you want to dig deeper into a concept, reach out to the Institute for additional support.
  • Follow up with others: If you made new connections during the convening, don’t let the opportunity to build that relationship slide. Reach out to them – maybe even set up a Zoom to connect virtually in real time.
  • Connect with colleagues: If there are others in your school or district who also attended, connect with them to share ideas, takeaways, and ways to work together to move learner-centered practices forward in your organization. Share your takeaways and “a ha” moments with co-workers who were unable to attend.

With a little planning and organization, the 2021 Virtual Convening might just be the best one yet. Registration is now open – don’t miss out!