When someone questions the power and value of a conference I think it’s fair to consider the ROI. For me, those conversations need to be able to continue online for a long time after the conference is over. The connections and informal discussions are valuable but need to be sustainable.
Attending BLC in 2007 was my the first experience attending a conference where I had “met people’s brains before I’d met their faces”. (Kevin Honeycutt) Because I had spent the previous 2 years posting and sharing online as did many of the presenters and participants, It was a real reunion. Never having gone to summer camp, my wife, told me that’s what summer camp is like. The conversations I had in those three days were some of the most powerful, insightful and challenging I’d ever had. To this day, I can recall specific conversations that I’m still working my way through.
Photo by Marco Torres: http://www.flickr.com/photos/torres21/4788962760/
BLC has from the start been a conference about global learning and collaboration. The numbers of intentional opportunities to network and share is unlike most conferences. People are genuinely interested in how you do things in your district and what schools are like where you come from. But to sustain this learning beyond the final day of the conference there has to be hyperlinks.
Hyperlinks have built the web and connected people. During the course of the three days of the conference, thousands of links have been shared in presentations, on twitter and on this blog and other blogs. Using the the twitter hashtag of #blc10 alone, you’ll discover enough ideas and links to chew on for quite some time. A blog search for BLC10 results in almost 1,000 results. These hyperlinks are allowing learning to be sustainable but more than than, they are links from people and we now are able to connect with the people behind the links and continue conversations of learning for as long as we’d like. Michael Wesch, in his keynote talked about connecting these artifacts with people. And by the way, if you want more from Wesch, and who wouldn’t, head over to youtube to view a number of his past presentations and work.
In my presentations I make a point of sharing my contact information not simply as a courtesy but because I really want to have conversations continue. I hope that most of the 75 minute sessions you attend leave you with as many questions as answers. If they simply had all the answers, I wonder if they might be better learned at home or individually.
I’m guessing there are about 1,000 participants at BLC this year. I wonder how many have a plan to sustain their learning with people beyond Friday? It’s simply a matter of leaving and finding a hyperlink.