Do Half Baked Ideas Belong At Conferences?

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I estimate that I spent about ten hours listening to presentations last week at ELearn 2009. I became increasingly frustrated with the structure of this conference when I realized that I would be facing four days of traditional fifteen minute lectures.

Is this the optimal way to share ideas and expertise? Given the collective ingenuity of an estimated four hundred attendees the 15 minute lecture format seemed like an obsolete approach. With the  plethora of networking and communication tools available to us surely we can break out of conventional constructs of transmitting knowledge and experiment with these tools to widen our understanding of any given topic.  I attempted to do this with my presentation and invited members to share their ideas and insights before my scheduled presentation time (http://sites.google.com/site/socialmediaelearn/) I was initially uneasy with my invitation. What if people thought my presentation was ‘half baked’ and didn’t feel it was their responsibility to help me organize my ideas? What if people thought this wasn’t legitimate knowledge because I was just revealing some reflections and assumptions? What if someone deleted my wiki pages or severely criticized my ideas?What furtive conference rules was I breaking? What did I have to lose? So I extended the invitation twice on the conference Twitter site. One person added to the presentation. I’m not sure why this is and  I didn’t have any stats to include how many people visited the site but I was surprised once again that I didn’t receive more feedback. This proves to me once again that rapport=adoption. If I specifically invited people who I had met at the conference and asked them to add to the presentation I may have received more contributions. Will I attend a conference such as this again? It will depend on my objectives. If I need to establish my professional identity in an international venue then I will consider it. If I need to actually learn something new about technology innovations and proven adaption practices then I will  look for smaller venues and more interactive opportunities to accomplish this objective.

One response to “Do Half Baked Ideas Belong At Conferences?

  1. Hiya Kathreen, I really enjoyed your pres @ ELearn – it was such a refreshing change from, as you say, the 15-min lecture format stuff! (though, I too wish that what you did had been more the norm there)

    I’d have participated in the wiki edit “live” were it not for an oldie laptop 😦 ..and I didn’t know that you’d invited us to share our thoughts before your presentation. I admittedly just checked the conference website a day or two before it started to create my schedule for the week (which of course was a futile exercise, in retrospect, because of all the cancellations….sigh…) Anyway, I wonder if that’s why people didn’t contribute beforehand? (because they didn’t know/see it)

    Anyhoo, I thought your idea for the presentation was/is fab and it was a highlight/revelation for me at ELearn. Cheers to ya!

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