Last May, I announced my messy break-up with ed tech conferences proudly and publicly. The presence of vendors and creepy educational consulting organizations made me feel as though I needed to be constantly showering. Sadly, these conferences continue much to the benefit of no one but these vendors and organizations.
Daily on Twitter, I see the #'s for some sort of conference replete with pictures and site links. What I don't see coming from these events is any form of lasting impact. A select few attend but many are left out the privileged loop. There are definite true believers who attend and will foster change within their direct circle of influence. Others simply cruise the circuit for free lunch, cheap swag and most sad, for a sense of importance.
My feelings are best articulated by the ever eloquent LemonGrab:
I do not believe that PD based on a workshop/conference/withdrawal model is at all useful. If we want real action, we must support local school and educator efforts through a collaborative inquiry process. Funding, resources and time must be allocated to educators working collaboratively to identify and solve problems of practice. It is through this type of real and relevant work that we grow. We then empower more than just those who do the conference circuit.
I PASSIONATELY believe that the type of educational change required to better serve our students will come from the educators in the trenches. We need to honour them and highlight their work. Support structures for developing these inquiry groups should be the priority. Broadcasting and scaling their learnings will make change; not ballroom conferences aimed at those in need of having their tires pumped.
One only needs to visit OpenIDEO or IDEO.org to see the power of collective ACTION and not collective talk about action. We learn by doing not through incessant talking or planning. We need to highlight and support the structures that produce scalable action, not the events that serve the needs of the few and rarely translate into anything usable. Organic inquiry over corporate conferencing, PLEASE!?!