markdashper_300x300_0Photo: Mark Dashper shares his Mediasite story during a Show & Share presentation at Unleash. 

I’ve been to the Unleash Mediasite User Conference nine times. Yes, you read that right. NINE times. Don’t believe me? I could show you my coveted Unleash t-shirt collection I’ve acquired from past conferences.

Unleash and the Mediasite Community are the glue that keeps my video strategy at University of Auckland, New Zealand together. It’s by far the most effective professional learning and development experience I get each year. I’m challenged in multiple ways, and I always come away full of innovative and exciting ideas that I want to immediately try. I rate it as the best conference I have attended worldwide. I can’t recommend it enough.

I won’t be able to be at Unleash 2017, which takes place May 1-3 in Madison, Wis., in person. However, I don’t want to miss it, so I’ll be watching live from my home office in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Sonic Foundry live streams all sessions to a remote audience – with Mediasite, of course – and those videos are available to review all year on-demand. I’m going to flip my sleep patterns to fully experience the conference. As New Zealand is in an almost opposite time zone, most of the conference is late at night and early morning for me. I’ll take breaks at the same time the conference breaks, and I’ll do as much online feedback as I can. In other words, I will try to attend the conference, rather than just view it.

If you’re like me and can’t make it to Madison, I highly recommend that you purchase an Unleash Online conference pass. I’ve attended online once before, and I’m looking forward to catching up with all my Mediasite friends virtually this year.

Whether you’re attending Unleash online or in Madison, make sure you connect with attendees as much as possible. I really value the international friendships and the bonds I have formed over the years in an active professional learning community.

I recommend making a few close friends from different countries. I link with my Canadian, Dutch and South African friends on social media and keep up with them throughout the year. If you make a friend from Madison, even better. Be sure to use the Mediasite Community before and after Unleash, and be on the Unleash app during the conference. It’s great and highly addictive.

For those of you lucky enough to attend in Madison, the evening social events are a great way to meet people. Plus, they’re always brilliant fun. Also, be sure to explore Madison. It’s spring and everything is beautiful, (and you don’t need sunblock). The Monona Terrace building where the conference is held is on the lakefront and is an inspiration designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. One year I did an impromptu tour of his Madison houses after the conference with a Mediasite friend.

2017_02_WEBAD_UL_ONLINE-PASS_600x600After conferences when I’m in Madison, I stay with a local family that I met on my very first Unleash trip. They show me around the state. Last year I went to an Amish community and rode in a horse and cart. The year prior they saved me some real snow in their fridge (I don’t experience snow where I live!). The zoo. The gardens. Jazz concerts. Art galleries. Bookshops. Cafes. The university. I get new favourites every year.

I can’t wait for Unleash Online, and I hope you’ll attend the conference, too. Then, next year come back and be a presenter or nominate yourself for an Enterprise Video Award. If you actively participate, you’ll win in some way or another.

Mark Dashper is Secondary Pathways Facilitator at University of Auckland and a Mediasite Community advisor. Contact him at https://community.sonicfoundry.com/people/MarkDashper.