Conferences can be a terrific form of professional development, but much like school, little has changed in structure since the last century. Sure, there are some updated features here and there i.e. backchannels and taping of sessions, but things are more or less done the same way they’ve always been done.
So, I got to thinking.
Everyone’s flipping for flip classrooms (well, except me).
Why not flip the conference?
I mean do we really have to crowd into a main room then an overflow room to listen to someone speak at us for an hour? Couldn’t we watch these presentations on our own and have our time with presenters spent in a more engaging and interactive way?
For example, at the recent International Society for Technology Educator’s conference (ISTE) a select few participants had the opportunity to “Speak with Sir Ken Robinson.” Boy was I jealous. I didn’t even know about it. I only got to listen to him in the overflow room with a crappy sound system.
What if instead of us all sitting silently together watching Sir Ken we watched him on our own. Then, during the conference, we were scheduled in more intimate conversations with him around our topic of choice, followed by group photo!? I don’t know about you, but that would certainly be a more powerful memory than the one I had scrambling to find a speaker that I could hear in the overflow room and even more powerful than if I had been shoved in a room sitting silently with a few thousand others.
This isn’t hard. We already have endless videos of keynote presentations just waiting for us. Let’s spend our time with these folks discussing and doing rather than sitting and watching.