ULearn 08 had some really good workshops and sessions for me and some that were not so flash. That’s conferences and after some time now in ICT PD circles it can be difficult to consistently find things that are profoundly new and challenging. Having said that there has been some really great new learning and I enjoyed following the trails of thinking that are next steps for school/my learning like with digital portfolios.
It was great to connect again f2f with the people I usually only see ‘online’, and also with the crew from CORE.
There has been a buzz in blogs since the conference about the issues involved with Twitter and online engagement with conference content. There were obviously the same issues at the Australian conference as we had at ULearn. As I have put in comments though I believe the issues are moral and ethical ones rather than about the technologies – they just enable the immediacy of the sharing of the streams of consciousness that Twitter and blogging can evoke. I am afraid I don’t really ‘get’ Twitter and that probably colours my thinking … I did find some of the Twittering during keynotes at ULearn quite meaningless and from the little I did follow it didn’t add anything or challenge my thinking in any way.
I did find people physically leaving during presentations or just before people began speaking pretty rude though. I was also surprised how the numbers for some sessions in the auditorium were quite low – as a principal and project director I would be a bit concerned if I was paying for people to go to a conference and they were missing sessions they had booked and our cluster/school was paying for. Maybe that is a bit odd and old fashioned but funding for professional learning opportunities is very scarce and I certainly value the dollars spent on me. Too much to simply not turn up or leave early. I have sat through some shockers at past conferences, but also had some gems that others have missed out on because they didn’t bother.
It is also interesting how some people who write wonderfully are not great presenters and some presenters I have looked forward to for months have been big disappointments on the day. Again that’s conferences – the good with the bad; the challenging with the affirming; the new with the familiar. Overall though I always come away with something new to follow up on and continue thinking about … Ulearn08 was no exception!

3 Responses to “Conference etiquette and levels of ‘newness’”
  1. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Conference etiquette and levels of ‘newness’ […]

  2. I was appalled that people would walk out of a keynote. It is just plan bad manners if nothing else. We would tolerate this sort of behaviour in our classes? I think not.

    Agreed it costs a small fortune to run a conference like this and I know in my cluster there was more wanting to come than we could afford to send so it would be such a shame for participants not to get the most out of it that they could.

    Even great speakers also have a not so great day and we should afford them respect and courtesy no matter what.

    I really look forward to the face-to-face contact at these events- for some of us we only get to meet up once a year and it helps to cement the bonds of our NZ network.

  3. greg.carroll says:

    Allanah -- I agree that even the best people have an off day and they deserve basic human courtesy …. however people who are doing keynote presentations are paid (well) NOT to have a bad day. That is part of the deal. They should always be at the top of their game.
    Same logic as professional sports people, lawyers, teachers -- a bad day is not acceptable and part of being professional is sucking it in and getting on with it. It is the metaphor of the swan swimming, no one knows what is going on below the surface but the exterior is calm and serene (professional).
    Particularly in school management no one cares if you are having a bad day. We are expected to do our best and be cool, calm and rational all the time and when I am paying to attend a conference the same logic applies for the people doing keynotes. I am there to hear them, and at their best. The people I have got the most from have also made themselves available by being around the venue/s at breaks etc so people can follow-up thoughts, ideas and challenges with them. To me this is an important part of the deal too.

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