There are many different styles of conferences that are run nationally and globally. Most are carefully organised and structured to suit those in charge. A timetable is created. The day begins with a keynote address after the welcome. Then depending on how big the conference is, educators and other stakeholders will decide which sessions to attend.
Edcamps are an alternative to conferences. They are an “un-conference” whereby there is no organised schedule or keynote speakers. Participants on the day decide what they want to learn or talk about, thereby creating sessions based on preference. Workshops are facilitated by interested educators.
So what would be my ideal conference?
Firstly I would prefer an un-conference like Edcamp. Whilst I’m yet to attend one, I would prefer to have the sessions chosen by the participants. I want to see how other teachers use technology in their classroom, or implement different teaching pedagogies in their schools. To me, Edcamps seem to be more personal and hands-on. It allows teachers to actively participate in the sessions.
Other suggestions for my ideal conference:
- A conference run only by teachers – not consultants who don’t know what is happening in the classroom. This allows educators to demonstrate what they are doing in their classrooms and other teachers can see the how it can fit into their own classrooms.
- Students are involved in the conference. Since the focus is on giving students a voice in the classroom to direct their own learning- why shouldn’t they also be given a voice at a teachers’ conference? Together with teachers, they can help to design learning programs that can be implemented in the classroom. The conference will allow them to tell teachers what they want and how they learn. Teachers and students can work together to create engaging units of work as well as learning environments that can be adapted to different learning styles.
- One where participants attend in school teams- each team is represented members of the principal class, the leadership team (e.g subject leaders/technology leaders), classroom teachers, students and parents. This allows all stakeholders to have a say in how students learn and what support is needed. Parents will also have a better understanding on changing teaching practices and how they can provide their children with the necessary support at home. The teams will then be responsible with sharing the learning with others at the school.
- Sessions at the conference are streamed via Google Hangouts or another platform. This will allow for a wider audience, especially since it is not possible for everyone to attend. Those who watch online can tweet their own questions/comments (with the conference hashtag) allowing them to contribute as well.