Robin & Sharon Muza at the Lamaze/DONA Conference in 2015.

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I promise you, I love a good conference. As you can see from my crazy picture to the left, when I’m at a conference, I’m gang busters and having fun, catching up with my friends that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. We eat good food, talk for long periods of time, and often stay up way too late.

What Stands Between You and the Learning

Do you know what winds up going by the wayside at an in person conference unless you’re really careful? The learning. Sure, you’ll attend a few sessions with sharp focus, but as the heavy meals, late nights, and simple preference for human contact take hold, it can really become overwhelming. Even if you don’t wind up skipping sessions, you will find that you don’t pay as close attention as you should.

Even if you go to every single session and you eat well, socialize less, and exercise – you still won’t retain everything you probably want to retain. That’s because crash courses don’t work well for most people. Now, I understand why we do it, we travel, get everyone in the same place at the same time. It’s cost efficient. We can’t take time away from our families, schedules, jobs, and clients. (This is particularly true if you’re a birth doula with an active client base.)

You Waste Money

One of the things that always worries me is that I’m wasting money when I don’t go to a session. So I go to almost every session. I want the knowledge. I need the continuing education. And now I’ve paid big bucks for it – and I’m not just talking the conference. There’s the airfare or cost of travel, the cost of a place to stay, and eating out. That makes the cost per CEU hour go up even more.

If I figure that all told I can easily spend $1000 on 24 CEUs, that breaks down to over $41 per hour of CE. That’s expensive! But, there’s a better way…

Why I Recommend Some Online Learning

Look, online learning certainly has things to point to when it comes to less fun, but there are some really great online learning courses out there. Here are just some of the benefits of an online learning event or conference:

  • You don’t have to travel or stay away from home. This saves money. Online CEUs are typically half of what you’d pay in person.
  • You usually have more time to take it all in. You can fit 20-24 hours into three days or three months. Going at your own pace can really increase your understanding and retention.
  • You can replay the parts you need to replay. Didn’t quite get that? REWIND!
  • Get settled in to watch some of your sessions and half way through – you get the call, it’s labor time. No big deal. You don’t have to call your back-up, you don’t have to miss your session. You just hit pause. This means your business continues to make money while you learn.
  • While I enjoy people some of the time, I’m a well-known introvert. So I am zapped by conferences, I love online learning because I can do it alone, in my pajamas, with my snacks, from my comfy chair.

If you’re not sure if online learning is for you, look for some of the larger conferences. They often offer a free preview session, though typically with CEUs. This will give you some idea of the style of that conference, though keep in mind that some presenters are much better at doing online conferences, just the same way you have in live conferences.

What are you waiting for? Give it a try!