Monday 3 April 2017

Are we getting the most out of Edutech conferences?

Ted Talks

Ted Talks. Technology Conferences. Google Apps events. Microsoft Educator training sessions. Apple Classroom introductions. It seems teachers have a plethora of options available to them when it comes to developing their tech knowledge. But what makes a good training session or a great conference?

I pose a few questions that may help to guide your thinking when it comes to solving this conundrum.

1) What do people expect?

For many teachers it will be their first experience of a tech conference. They may not know exactly what to expect over the course of the 2/3 days, but they surely will have some idea. If they leave with a few practical and handy new ideas to try in the classroom, as well as with a sense of optimism and drive to facilitate change in their classroom or school, you have done pretty well.

It is easier to please someone like this, rather than a seasoned conference veteran who has seen it all. For these people - do we always NEED to give them what they expect? Why not change it up completely and move away from the standard practice of a keynote speaker followed by some drop-in sessions? I am looking forward to attending a course that completely blows me away in terms of HOW (not WHAT) it delivers.

2) How do we cater for all abilities?

Just like in a classroom, a tech conference has attendees of different skill levels. This is often determined by asking participants to answer a survey upon registration. My question is: how well does this translate to appropriate sessions being offered? Do we cater for the "more able" as well as complete beginner sessions (that may take longer!) to entice people into finding out more?

Also, how important is it to release the schedule well in advance? I know this is recommended practice so that people can see the topics being covered, but what about having some surprises or a sense of mystery?

3) How do we ensure people do not leave disappointed? 

Is there a sure fire way to guarantee success? Is there a conference recipe that you can download from  I guess not, otherwise we would all do it! Although that being said...quite a lot of these seem to follow a set pattern! Maybe I should google that site again...

4) Do we cater only for teachers?

Every now and then a conference throws in the odd session for administrators, IT support or school managers. Is it fair on them to have to attend a whole conference in order to access one measly session relevant to their field? Or could we design a conference that caters as much for them as it does for the teacher? Would this need to be a standalone thing?

I am looking forward to attending the Cape Town GAFE Summit this week hosted by @edtechteam and to see how they have approached the fine art of hosting and organising a tech conference. Be sure to check back to find out how it went!

'till next time.

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