Conferences provide a lot of information with little context. Jordan Fowler has an excellent take on how to really learn over at Worship Trench:
There is a better way to learn that is customized to your context … watch-and-ask-over-dinner learning. If you go to a big conference, you are getting good stuff in a shotgun fashion which you may or may not be able to contextualize on your own. Instead, try this. When you have something to learn, find out who excels at it. Call them up and ask them their favorite NICE restaurant and ask them if there is a time you can buy them dinner and get a face to face with them to talk about how you do X or Y.
Conferences are still useful for networking and providing general info to get people started/fired up. But his way seems much more useful. Read the full post here.