Redesigning and Rethinking Conferences-Reflections On #ASCD14 by Steven Anderson

3/25/2014 12:00:00 AM
I recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles where I attended the annual ASCD conference. This is one of my favorite conferences of the year because of the diversity of the sessions offered. Everything from Edtech to Teacher Leadership, I usually come away with lots of ideas for going forward or things to think about. 

And this conference was no different. 

I had 2 big take-aways that will keep me thinking for a while...

One was on the type of session offered. 

There was loads of great content. Again, ASCD does a great job of picking sessions. 

What I mean is the method of delivery. Many of the attendees are comfortable with the sit and get, lecture type, while few enjoy the participatory style. I experienced this first hand in one session I delivered that was very hands on. We were moving around, talking, exploring, and several people left, commenting, I heard later, they wanted to just have the information not participate in an activity.

The session where this participatory type learning really benefited the attendees was the session about Edcamps. Kristen Swanson (an Edcamp Founder) designed a session that gave the Edcamp experience. We circled up chairs, suggested topics and then moved around the room so we could see what an Edcamp was like. She could have just as easily lectured for a hour on the model and how its been done. Rather, she gave everyone an experience they talked about for the rest of the conference and (I would bet) probably beyond.

It’s no wonder we need a major redesign in the way we do school. Many educators are still comfortable with the idea they rather be talked at than talked with. If they like the lecture style, surely kids do too. We have to think about the way we offer sessions at conferences like ASCD. Participants need to be moving, thinking, talking to each other. I would like to see in session proposals how the session will be interactive and how the presenter will do follow-up with the participants. We have to think differently about content delivery, not just for students, but teachers as well.

The other take away was conferences, ASCD included, need to better design the layout of rooms. 

Many of the rooms are set up for the convenience of the convention space where the conference is. They are lecture style, chairs in rows, sometimes impossible to move (and if you do move them, you best get them back in their neat and tidy rows.) These rooms are easy to set up and take down. 

Conferences need to push back and offer spaces that are more flexible and allow for movement. Imagine walking into a room to present a session at a national conference and there where chairs in the corner that allowed you to design your space. Or chairs on wheels that made it easy for small groups to form. 

If we want to encourage more participatory type sessions, we have to have flexible spaces that allow for more of this. Again, its all about thinking differently about how we do sessions and how we design spaces.

What do you think? If you've been to a great conference session recently, what made it great? Have you seen any spaces at conferences that were flexible? What did they include? Leave your comments below.

cross posted at blog.web20classroom.org

Steven W. Anderson is the Director of Instructional Technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, NC. He also regularly travels the country talking to schools and districts about the use of Social Media in the classroom. Steven has been recognized with the NOW Award and the 2009 and 2011 Edublogs, Twitterer of The Year Award. In 2012 he was named an ASCD Emerging Leader. Read more at blog.web20classroom.org.


comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...