Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Conference or Unconference?

Apparently the queue for the main exhibit hall resembled the opening of the January Sales on Oxford Street, I can't comment as not only wasn't I there, but I wouldn't have wanted to be either!
The stroll along the Riverwalk to the Convention Centre was as relaxing as usual, in the pleasant summer heat. I guess that San Antonio differs greatly from other American cities, in that above ground is an American city, which seems a little quiet compared to others, while below and flowing under those city streets The Riverwalk is where the city comes alive - all of the bird song that you here is down there, while the bustling arteries that are the Riverwalk are rich in the sights, smells and sounds of this city so close to Mexico.
Contrast this to the vast air conditioned Convention Centre, large, impersonal and COLD! I was in discussion this afternoon with a group of teachers who were a mix of newbies like me and some 'old hands' about the ethics behind the conference, what is the target audience for these 'Mega' conferences? The conclusion was......... not us. But and it is an important but, to pull in a wide range of national and international visitors an event like this has to have a critical scale and reputation.
( For me San Antonio City = Conference Centre, The Riverwalk = Unconference! It is difficult to be objective though from inside the tank!)(cc image from Hapal )
It is really difficult, as the edublogger community's main focus is to bring in others, to show them what is possible if they are willing to take a risk. All of the members of the community have by the very nature of their belonging, taken risk as far as trying to show their pupils a new, exciting and more relevant method of learning. Risk taking is not in the nature of the teaching community as a whole, so how to encourage them to give it a go?
ISTE to be fair do their best to recognise the educational benefits of risk taking and has scheduled presentations and panel discussions linked to using new technologies in new and creative ways.
The Blogger's Cafe is also a recognition of the worth of the community, for me though here is the dilemma, how it is solved I would be interested to discuss. How do you create an area where meaningful discussions and collaboration between teachers can take place, while at the same time not hiding this place from those who may be curious and would be likely to 'stop by' to see what is going on. The positioning/design of the space is not quite there in my opinion. It has been placed on a main walkway for those going to presentations which is great, it means that it is not hidden away as a place where only those 'inside the fish tank' will go, however the space lacks the intimacy and feel of a space where people can find a quiet corner to have a chat or ask that question that has been bugging them about how to move forward with their ideas.
From this newbies point of view ISTE positioning is good, organisation/design of the space could do better. I must add though the positioning of power sockets enabling great power hook-up is a definite plus.
Perhaps today I might just dip my toe into the 'Great Hall of Commercialism' we'll see....... I might just take the easy way out and seek the company of those with whom I have more affinity!

1 comment:

A. Mercer said...

Well, here is the video I took of "opening day":
http://mizmercer.tumblr.com/post/40541521

If that is depressing, you can check out my videos from the river tour, to cleanse your palate.

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