November 18, 2005

Radical ideas and Useless Conferences

Two ideas have come together for me today. I’m in Regina, SK at the Educational Techknowledge E-Conference. This morning Stephen Downes talked about being Radical. The message being simply that since technology changes everything, we should be looking at ways to radically change the way learning happens.

Then I read a post on “How to Run a Useless Conference“. I’d hate to infer that this is a useless conference and since I used to be on this conference committee, I know the challenge behind running a conference. The article talks about how conference tend to be safe…not radical. And since they are safe, they do little to change behaviour. This concept, I think applies to me since I do a lot of workshops and inservices. I’ve felt disappointed at times with my workshops when although I’ve presented to my best, it’s done little to change behaviour. (i.e. Maximizing Microsoft Word last week. I only did it since it was requested but could not muster up enough passion to make it interesting…who could?)

The idea that emotion changes behaviour should drive conferences, presentations, workshops and teaching in general. Not a new concept but one that often is missed. My love of video/storytelling is something that touches emotion. It’s an easy sell. I tried to include more of an emotional content in my RSS talk and would be thrilled to see some behaviour changes. I know many of the people at this conference. I wouldn’t consider many of them average as the article says. So I’m hoping that in the next few months we will see some more Saskatchewan folks rummaging around the blogsphere, reading the good stuff, remixing ideas and learning more than ever. ‘

There were some radical ideas floating around this hotel and the challenge is to provide a forum for them to be explored. Stephen started it, hopefully the rest of the conference will continue it to become something useful.