SLearning 2.008 Pre-Conference

Yes we try and make the Learning 2.008 Educational Technology conference a little different each year. We don’t just talk about changing the was we teach and learn, we try and model it as well. We don’t always succeed but it’s about taking risks and pushing ourselves as educators. We can not expect educators to go to a conference where we tell them that they need to take risks, learn something new, and reflect without us as conference organizers doing the same. We continue to try and do that sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding. We’ve already learned a lot this year about the hassle of trying to accept Credit Card payments. It’s not as easy as one might think and then put China on top of it and…well…let’s just say we took a risk and this time it didn’t pay off. But we learned something! We learned that Pay Pal is not the answer and that if we do continue the conference in the future we’ll have to rethink some things. We’re also rethinking how to hold a pre-conference. With over 150 teachers (at this point) flying in from all over the world for the conference during a school week we had to think about how we best utilize time. We wanted to run a pre-conference but found that many schools and educators weren’t willing to release teachers (or didn’t want to miss time with students) for a pre-conference day or two before the actual conference. David Gran one of the main conference organizers contacted Chris Smith who owns International School Island in Second Life. Together they’ve been working to create a SLearning 2.008 Pre-Conference not only for those who will attend the conference in Shanghai, but for all of you who want to participate virtually. Chris has created an amazing setting on International School Island in Second Life for our 3 pre-conference sessions. Below you will find the dates, times, and events. I hope you can make all three events, but I’d like to draw your attention especially to the third date, Sunday, September 14th. This event, one week before the “Real Life” conference will be an open forum for our Learning 2.008 Committee to meet and talk with participants. Note that this will be 9 PM Shanghai Time. Dates (Sundays) 31st August : Alan Levine (CDB Barkley); David Warlick (Suriawang Dapto) 7th September : Ewan McIntosh (Learning Loon)...

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Thoughts on conferences

So the first full day of NECC 2008 comes to an end and I find myself thinking more about conferences, how to create them, manage them, and make them relevant to participants then I thought I would. Have I mentioned the conference we’re doing in Shanghai? 🙂 I’ve been thinking a lot about spaces and how important it is to create spaces for learning and conversing at the conference. Today I ran into cognitive overload. Ewan McIntosh does a beautiful job of explaining exactly how I was feeling today. At one point I literally had to find a quiet corner in the Hyatt to just take a breathe and relax. I felt like calling a time out and just pausing everything for a second. So here are my thoughts on designing and organizing a conference. Pace: The pace of the conference is an important aspect to consider. Chris Lehmann and I talked about this for a bit yesterday. How much time do you give between presentations? How many presentations do you have during a session? Both of these help to determine the pace of the conference. At NECC this year the feeling of many (including me) is that the pace of the conference is just to fast. Many sessions are closed to participants 15 minutes before they are do to begin. One person in the Blogger Cafe today talked about showing up 30 minutes early to get into a session and the line was already forming outside. Here at NECC the sessions run 60 minutes with varying start times in between sessions. With sessions filling up so fast, people feel an urgency to get to sessions quickly and then once there, feel like they can’t “vote with your feet” and leave a session because there is no guarantee that there is another session with space.Scale to Size: I talked about this in my last post and I think it is something you must make a priority if you are planning any type of conference. Your conference venue and the number of sessions you run per hour are two factors that you need spend time thinking about. At NECC this year I saw a sign that stated there were over 13,000 participants. A quick count of the number of presentations that were offered at 11am this morning was 33. A little simple math 13,000/33=394 people per presentation. 394 people per...

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Help spread the word about Learning 2.008!

Ken Caroll of Praxis Language (and the famous ChinesePod.com) invited me out to their new studio here in Shanghai to record some sound bites for the Learning 2.008 conference. Ken and Praxis Language will help us to record every session of the Learning 2.008 conference this year. (More on my visit with Ken later)I worked with their sound guy David to create an audio ad that we are releasing here for distribution.Our hope is that you will take this 19 second clip and embed it in your own educational podcasts, pass it around to friends, e-mail it to teachers in your school, or post it on your own blog/site to help spread the word about the conference. Yes, I had way to much fun recording this and editing it with David.Please take, use, remix, distribute, and use at will. It is released under a Creative Commons 3.0 License. Download here As far as I know we’re the first conference to release a mp3 audio ad on the Internet for use in podcasts and other audio media. …and that’s just the beginning of firsts for this years conference. You will not want to miss it! Register...

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