Education needs to take a lesson from This Week's Web 2.0 Summit. It is time to move on and think bigger.
Jeremiah Owyang, a blogger in my “Circle of the Wise” says in his post Thinking Bigger: Web 2.0 Summit Gives a Purpose:
“Unlike previous Web 2.0 events the theme was very clear to me, these social tools are now impacting so much more than the tech blogger circle jerk that we all tire of. With our future President launching a blog on Wednesday, Lance Armstrong discussing politics, ego and the web, and Al Gore on stage discussing how energy and global crises can help be solved from collaborative means.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been at a tech conference where we didn’t fondle the hammer and actually focused on building the house. Actually choosing an objective to apply these tools to much bigger problems: cancer, health, politics, global warming, energy crises, and connecting the world.”
Yesterday, Julie Lindsay, John Turner and I spent planning the nuts and bolts of student side of the upcoming Flat Classroom Conference in Qatar and this, my friends, is what we're wanting to do. Focus on building the house.
As it stands now, in our current vision, the students will be creating and proposing a “flat classroom” style project to tackle a global issue of their choice. We will be voting and determining which project we will implement. DO SOMETHING!!!
Students will be involved in discussing best practices in all types of project based learning with technology tools along with the leadership strand of adults.
Time is being built in for reflection and each participant is going to reflect daily on the conference Ning. Virtual participants will be intentionally included in several of the events.
How many times can we sit in a room and listen to a presentation when we aren't given the chance to provide feedback, mash up, comment, interact, or discuss?
It is high time for conferences to move past the industrial age model of the past into a collaborative model of the future. I want to read more about what happened at the Web 2.0 Summit and wish somehow someway, I'd be able to go to one of these in the future.
Those in charge of conferences ask yourself: have you changed the way you “do” conferences in the past 2-3 years? Are they more participative? Can participants tag and share and mashup what you do?
Are you focusing on building the house or just fondling the hammer?
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I’ve found the greatest benefit of conferences is not the presentations themselves, but the periphery. The informal aspects of attendee/attendee interaction, speaker/attendee extended discussion, (mashups etc) really provide the greatest value to conferences. Otherwise, one walks out with perhaps 1 or 2 useful ideass, which may or may not make a conference worthwhile from a ROI pov… but with the periphery, it may well be 5-10 or even 20 things of value.
The problem is, the periphery due to its informal and organic nature is a hit or miss deal. Having been on 3 sides of conferences, attender, speaker, and organizer, I’ve tried to foster greater participation outside of the formal activities… and its a real challenge. (Granted, this was years ago, and conferences do change over time).
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