Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Just wrapping up from ITSC11 in Portland and a previous conference send me a link to a survey from participants. This one frustrated me a bit:

Here’s the thing…first of all I’m never going to run a session that goes “Click here, now click here, now type here” I’m sorry, that’s not my style and if that is the reason your coming to a session at a conference then you’re telling me you are not an active motivated learner. That’s as bad as kids coming into our classrooms and saying “I don’t want to think, just tell me what to do, what to learn so I can learn it.”

Learners take responsibility for their learning and me telling you to click here, then click here isn’t going to help you learn it because the learning is out of context anyway. How many times have you had previous show you how to do something only to go to do it a couple days later and not remember? Learning does not happen if there is no context for the learning to take place.

I think the other thing that bothers me about these comments (this isn’t the first, and I’m sure not the last) is in every presentation I start by giving everyone permission to be off task and do what they need to do as a learner. If you want to click, go click, go learn. I never expect you to listen, or be active with what I’m saying. If what I’m saying isn’t motivating you, isn’t pushing you, isn’t what you need as a learner then that’s my fault not yours and go be off task. 

On the other end of the spectrum of course you have educators like intrepidteacher in this reflective blog post about a resent conference who is frustrated that many sessions are still doing the click here, then click here type workshops.

So here it is:

If you are looking for a presentation that is all about the tool and has nothing to do with the pedagogy or how and why you would use it…I’m not your man.

If you want a presentation where people just sit and get and don’t want to take responsibility for their own learning….I’m not your man.

That doesn’t mean we won’t “play” or “dabble” with technology. At ITSC we played with blogs for 2 hours, but people were free to click where they wanted to and taught themselves the software. I answered questions, led discussions, supported people 1-on-1, but other than pointing people in the right direction they had to learn it on their own.

What is the role of a conference? As conferences try and redefine themselves, try to stay relavent in a world where content is free and open. They become places of connections, discussions, and motivation. We still need conferences, not for the “stuff” but for the ability to come together with others and learn with them through conversations. 

I’m waiting for the conference that has no sessions, has no structure. But instead is just a specific time and place for people to come together and connect, discuss and learn.

The problem: Try to sell that conference to the powers-that-be. 🙂

The ITSC conference kicks off today and in just a few hours I’ll leave for the airport to make the….yes….45 minute flight to Portland, OR. I’ve been really impressed by the web based mobile app they created for the conference. It’s built on HTML5 (the new code of the web) which makes it run smooth, fast, and on any modern device. The app looks great on a laptop, a phone or a tablet…exactly the way a web based app should work. 

As presenters we can use the app to ask questions to participants, start a discussion question and post links. Because it’s web-based the conference organizers can also push information out to participants quickly via Announcements or even create another section. I’m wondering if there would be a way to embed say the conference Twitter stream into the app as well. I’m hoping to pick the conference organizers brains about how they created the app to use in other conferences. 

I think hope we’re going to see more web based apps like this that really do capture the conference and allow people to participate all in one place.