Brandon Savage has posted some ideas about making conferences better and how they can appeal to a wider (and maybe more inexperienced) level of developer.
I love PHP conferences. I attended a lot of PHP conferences when I was a brand new developer. Zendcon, OSCON, php[tek], Wordcamp Baltimore, DC PHP and others were my stomping grounds. I learned a lot, and the conferences I attended were on the whole useful, beneficial and wonderful experiences. But I also felt challenged by the fact that conferences don't offer much for bringing up new developers with concrete information and training. This isn't necessarily the fault of conferences: it's impossible to truly impart a useful skill into a developer with only a 45 minute talk.
He includes four ideas in the post and talks some about the role of training at the events:
- Are conferences even the right place for training?
- Creating Different Tracks of Different Lengths
- Including Hands-On Training During Tutorial Days
- Offer Learning-Focused Hackathons
He also notes that some of it is up to the developers to find a good fit for what they need and the skills they're looking to learn. There's other options out there besides just the usual conferences, too and, as Brandon states, "investing in your career is the most valuable thing you can do for yourself."