Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

I recently attended DigiCon18. I was left with a few thoughts on the nature of presentations. I discussed this before, as well as the re-imagination of such spaces. I find this topic important to continually come back to as much as a reminder about what I myself need to improve upon as anything else.

  • Slow Down: I was in some sessions where presenters would run through all their material. I feel this is something that I sometimes do. One strategy is to provide points where you can stop and reassess.
  • Incorporate Storytelling: One of the things that stood out from all the keynotes was the power of storytelling. I was left thinking that if you do not have a story to tell, you probably need to start making one up.
  • Involve Humour: On the flip side to storytelling, it is important to include humour, this opens presentations and workshops to the human side. One of the hard things about this is that humour is often situational and cannot always easily be contrived.
  • Don’t say what doesn’t need to be said: If you are not prepared or do not know everything, do not admit it. I recognise that everyone is human, but more is lost than gained in my opinion.
  • Structured Hands-On Time: There were too many sessions that involved arbitrary activities. If you are going to provide people time, provide them with purpose and structure. This is something that I have been guilty of not doing well in the paste.

With all this said, I think that it is people that make a conference. Maybe above all else we need to start there.

If you were one of those people at DigiCon18 and had a reflection, I would love to hear it.


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creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs

This weeks #youredustory topic is to describe your ideal conference. Having written about this topic a before touching upon the topics of people, participation and hidden PD, I will just elaborate here on the three elements that I want out of a ‘conference’ experience:

  • IDEAS: I want there to be interesting and challenging themes and ideas, presented in a contemporary manner. Conferences should not be about the status quo, they should be a little confrontational, they should disrupt, shake things up, all with an eye on improving learning. This I think is sometimes inhibited by the fact that applications for sessions are taken months (if not years) in advance, as well as the tendency to stand and deliver.
  • CONNECTIONS: An important part of new ideas comes about through forming new connections. Dean Shareski argues that coming away with five new connections is more important than coming away with five new tools or ideas. I think that the challenge is to create the write conditions for this to occur. This includes the right environment, as well as structuring different activities. For example, DLTV had a makerspace at last years conference. To me this worked for I was not only able to make and do, but I was able to chat with different people while doing this.
  • ACTION: In addition to being hands on and practical, I want the opportunity to do something meaningful. I understand that 45 minutes can be limiting, but at the very least there should be the possibility to continue to continue the ideas and connections afterwards. Maybe this is a collaborative space or shared resources.

So they are a few of my ideas about conferences. I could have written a list of ‘dream’ keynotes and presentation topics, however I think that such fixed mindset overlooks the most important ingredient of them all. The most important ingredient to any conference is an openness and eagerness to learn. The question though that I am left wondering is why wait for a conference? This is something that Tom Whitby has touched upon elsewhere, I recommend reading it.

So what about you? What is your ideal conference expereince? I would love to know? As always, comments welcome.


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creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/15133211880
 
I was left challenged recently by a post from +Dean Shareski who questioned the focus of conferences on ideas and instead argued that we should be looking for connections. He made the statement that “if you leave with one or two people you can continue to learn with you’ve done well.” This has been my goal of late, to create a space where people can connect, rather than provide a list of links and ideas.
 
At Melbourne Google Summit, I felt I did this by creating an activity where participants collaboratively curated a guide of how to introduce Google Apps in order to make learning and teaching more doable. A point that +Bill Ferriter suggests when he states, “technology lowers barriers, making the kinds of higher order learning experiences that matter infinitely more doable.”

 

To me change isn’t just about bringing in Google Apps and enforcing it on everyone from above, it is just as much about the small ideas that help others buy-in to the benefits in going Google. I therefore thought that if we bring together the collective knowledge of the room that those there would not only have a great resource to take back to their schools, but a range of connections to continue learning with. For as +David Weinberger puts it, “The smartest person in the room is the room.”
 
What eventuated though as I roamed the room was that I ended up helping people with a myriad of other problems, from having two accounts linked to the one email account, how to use Google Groups to make sharing easier and downloading the new Google Slides app on iPad. This was awesome, for just as we need to be open as learners to new opportunities and connections, so to as teachers do we need to be open to adjusting the focus based on the situation at hand. However, would this have been the case if those in the room were not willing to raise their hand and admit that there is something that they don’t know? Admit that something isn’t necessarily working the way that it is meant to?
 
It occurred to me afterwards in reflection that just as it is important to leave a conference with one or two new connections, I feel that it also important to come away with a small win, a solution to a conundrum that has really been bugging you. Something personal, something important to you and your situation. This is especially the case at a technology conference where what is on offer is only the tip of the iceberg to the potential of what is possible. The big challenge then is asking, for it is only if you ask shall you receive.
 
For those interested, here are the slides to my presentation:
 

Introducing Google Apps One Win at a Time – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
 
While here is a link to the awesome presentation that those in attendance made: Introducing Google Apps – A Crowd Sourced Guide

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