EdTech Conference....we need to have a talk.
The spark is gone. We've grown apart. I would like to say that it's me but honestly, it's you. I think that we need to make a clean break.....EdTech conference, we're done.
I'm breaking it off, shaking hands and walking away
Conferences are puzzling. Learning happens but usually in spite of the presence of organizations and vendors. I don't enjoy vendor presence but I get it; sales-people sell. If you don't make eye contact and if you move quickly, they usually leave you alone. My concern is with the presence of the "educational organizations". I find them creepy. A lot of suits walking around looking important, holding meetings in break areas and at lunch tables. I'm so curious, what are they talking about? It's like some weird parallel universe where people FAR removed from real classroom experience partake in "education". They nomadically roam from conference to conference and event to event like untethered balloons. They could just as easily be talking about widgets. Too often they deal in transaction and reputation, not transformation
These pseudo-educators are no longer confined to the vendor's hall, they are now leaking into the presentation schedule as well. The sales-pitch is cloaked in the guise of a workshop.These organizations are parasitic. Education technology is buzz-worthy. To them, it's just a new angle. My questions is:
what impact do they have on
REAL teachers and students?
I used to be skeptical of edcamps and unconferences. No longer. Bottom up change is a real possibility now. There is no longer a need for large organizations to disseminate information or to share practice. Educators can just go find it on their own and support each other in the development of their practice. (I am proud that my board is moving in this direction as we prepare for our first edcamp.) The goal must be to create structures to empower educators, find excellence and develop the structures to scale it. Nobody needs these groups; all we really need is to be validated and pointed in the right direction so that we can direct our own learning.
I am grateful that my board provides its educators with learning opportunities. I love and appreciate the support. I love the socializing with my peers; I just don't love the conference itself anymore. I have officially attended my last one. There were many wonderful learning sessions at my most recent conference, run by dedicated educators. I definitely don't want to dump on them or the volunteers and organizers. This is a cumulative effect. It's the overall experience that has soured me, not the genuine people sharing their passion and expertise. For me from here on out, edcamps and/or unconferences with tangible links to real practice only. If there is no evidence of teacher voice and direction, what's the point? Simple equation: take the best of conferences, (real educators) and subtract the worst of conferences, (organizations, vendors and presentations) and we are left with something pretty cool.
My suggestion to these 21C organizations, try actually talking to teachers and have their needs guide you.
EdTech conference, you broke my heart
I leave it to Mr. Cee-lo Green to deliver my final break-up message: