Why Go To a Conference?

As I work to pack and gather all the things that I need to take to me to the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario  Conference this week, it’s a question that I’m asking to the dog.  (the only other form of life in the room.)  He gives me a “I don’t know; let’s go for a walk response” so he’s of little help.  I guess I’ll have to finish my thinking and this blog post by myself.

In an era where we talk about using social media like Twitter and Facebook for professional learning, why do we give up a couple of days and devote it to learning?  After all, you’ll hear people say “Twitter is the best PD ever” or “I like learning on my own” or “Look at all these resources.  Why would I?”

When you think about it, that may be true for some.  There are some caveats though…

  • Can entire pedagogy be changed in 140 characters?
  • When someone shares the “10 Best Ways to …”, are they really the 10th best?  Maybe #11 would have put you over the top;
  • Does this stuff actually work?

I would suggest that there indeed are great learning opportunities available through social networks.  You can’t deny that the flow of resources at times is endless.  But is that all that it’s going to take to give your teaching a shot in the arm?

If it is, great.

If it isn’t, then there must be something missing; something extra that can only be had by other means.

When you go to a conference, there is that little extra…

  • Real people sharing what actually worked in their classrooms and they’re there to share the details;
  • There’s much to be learned by what’s not there.  The flavour of the week comes and goes but what really works hangs on;
  • There are real connections to be had that last long after the last session.  Teaching is the people business.

The face to face contacts, the sessions, the discussions, the exhibits, the learning – they’re all available at the conference.  Given a shot in the arm, it helps to put the online learning over the top.

Personally, I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones this year.  See you there.

Conference details are available here.



  1. So well said, Doug, and I completely agree! For me, it’s also about the range of topics at the conference. On Twitter, I only have so much time each day to check and read tweets, and I often miss some great ideas! These are ideas that are shared at ECOO, and I now have time to sit down, hear them shared, ask questions, & really figure out how these ideas could be put into practice.

    I woke up this morning giddy with excitement about tomorrow and Minds on Media and ECOO. I can’t wait to see everyone there and have three awesome days of PD!



  2. Hey, there! Learn lots for me, all of you, and I shall hope my life allows me to join you in person at some point. I really thought this was going to be my year, and it hasn’t quite happened that way. (Sigh). Can someone fit a virtual me into their pocket?


  3. Doug, I actually peeked at my Ontario Library Association Superconference 2012 notes to ensure I was quoting the right person correctly for your comment: the plenary speaker, Dr. Jonah Lehrer, said in his keynote that despite having Twitter and other virtual gathering places, attendance at F2F conferences has been steadily on the rise. People still need to connect in person. Although I can only do 1 day at ECOO this year, I’m delighted that one of the teachers at my school will be coming as well. I can hardly wait to introduce her to Doug, Aviva, and so many others. Lisa, if you send me a picture, I’ll take a virtual you along with me. I did that with a large group of friends when I attended a (Twilight) conference a few years ago.


  4. Thank you ladies, for sharing your thoughts. Diana, that’s an interesting statistic. Registration for ECOO is indeed up so I hope this is a trend for our profession. Lisa, we’ll miss you. Hang out on Twitter. There’s always the Western RCAC Conference that you could attend in December. Aviva, I’m sure that our paths will cross in a couple of hours at the Minds on Media event. I’m looking forward to a great day of learning and meeting people.


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