I just happened to fall into the last 15 minutes of an online session from AACE’s Spaces of Interaction: An Online Conversation on Improving Traditional Conferences with George Siemens, Alec Couros, Tony Karrer, Dave Cormier and Michelle Lentz, a discussion of how to improve traditional conferences.
I picked up on the same push for change I experienced in the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge class, but this time it was conferences that were bad and behind the times instead of schools. I heard about technology conferences with no wifi or bad wifi (I’ve attended one of these myself), the need for more back-channel chat during sessions, and the desire to make sessions more interactive, both for online and in-person conference settings.
One of the factors preventing conference overhaul, of course, is the need for presenting papers, a tradition which affects the careers of those presenting. Such one-way communication tends to create a passive audience, and thus isn’t in keeping with today’s participatory culture. The result is that some want conferences overhauled all together, while others want things to stay the same for professional reasons, at least until the professions themselves change.
|cc by jdlasica|
As always, my view favors subversive change. You may have heard of “unconferences”, where the participants themselves use sticky notes or such to arrange and create on-the-spot sessions. I’m thinking we could create unconferences inside the main conferences, which I saw done on a lesser scale at the ED-MEDIA conference last summer in Vancouver (this summer’s should be great too!). So some “sessions” could be ad-hoc and fully participatory, while the more traditional sessions are pre-scheduled. Even though the Program for Online Teaching’s first mini-conference was small, I see a place there in Fall for doing just that inside our own conference. So although I just happened to fall into the session (because George and Alec posted an invite on Twitter and I happened to see it), it’s provided inspiration for the kind of subversive change I like to do!