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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Conferences That Work - And Why I'm Loving This Book

I am reading this book Conferences that Work - Creating Events That People Love by Adrian Segar.  I've known Adrian for quite a while since attending the excellent edACCESS conference for the first time while an IT director at an independent school some time ago.  I'd seen the book in pdf version when Adrian asked me and several others to give feedback, I thought it was great then, now think it's even better in print (and check out the Web site as well which is descriptive and will start your creative juices flowing.)

However I'm not planning a conference right now, I'm redesigning a 2-day workshop Middle and High School teachers in Iowa at a school district about to go 1-to-1.  Why would the idea of peer conferences be applicable for a workshop of teachers?  Because, frankly, most PD (professional development) does not deliver what teachers and administrators want - real learning, understanding, and applicability to the point of meaningful replication in the classroom.  And also while we're being honest here, I am becoming less and less interested in the stand-and-deliver version of presentations - keynoting, presenting face-front sessions, watch me and I'll show you things and hope to make it fun and exciting and also try to involve you.

I want everyone to get their hands dirty myself included and to experience what adult learners need - practical ideas they can use, mediated by their own needs, opportunities to do and not just view, time to try and experiment and experience possibilities, metacognitive time to discuss what they are learning and what they are grappling with, and something they will come away with and have to use again at the end.

So thank you Adrian for an excellent book the elements of which will be included in a future workshop for me, even though it won't be a "conference" per se.