Over the years, I’ve attended many conferences in many locations. For the most part, they’ve been technology conferences but not necessarily.
- WesternRCAC Symposion
- ECOO / Bring IT, Together
- OSSTF, ETFO (and its predecessors)
- Ontario Subject Associations like OSLA, STAO
- Ontario School District Conferences
- Prairie Rose
- and I could probably go on longer if I allowed my mind to wander but that’s not the point
Doesn’t education love an acronym?
So, what is the point?
The point(s) are that they were all similar in the fact that there were many people all together at the same time. Whether in attendance as participant or presenter, I always left smarter and inspired to change my practice somehow as a result.
That’s not going to be happening any time soon. By any time soon, I had been thinking that maybe things would be off the rails this summer and maybe into the fall. As it turns out, it’s going to be much longer than that. I’m now aware that the CSTA Conference that would have been normally held next July will be online instead. SIGCSE was going to be held outside the United States for the first time ever moving to Toronto next year. Instead, it’s moving online as well.
One aspect of a conference can be relatively easier replicated and that’s the talking head speaker. From my perspective, that’s one of the least useful part of any conference! In fact, I’ve been known to walk out of and away from a session that adopts that type of approach. Bizarrely, my approach has always been that I could just watch a video online for the same effect.
I look at everything else
- meeting up with colleagues and sharing what we’re doing well and what’s not going well
- small group collaborations
- hands on activities (I love to play)
- interacting with exhibitors and their latest products
- something absolutely new that I can experience before paying money to check out
- going out for supper or drinks with old and new friends
- taking a tour of the location either formally or informally
- getting up and moving around (I’ll meet you at …)
It’s not just professional learning events that are struggling with this. Movie festivals, special events, etc. are trying to re-invent their experience in the days of not being able to gather. Again, bizarrely, these approaches might well make things better in the long run, when the traditional gather together events resume.
The easy way out is just to provide a slate of talking heads. The more sophisticated approach will look at the new and innovative. Particularly if I’m going to be paying money, that’s what I’ll be looking for.
You? What does professional learning look like for you in the short and long term? Are you more or less likely to register for something in these difficult times?