Graham Wegner’s recent post about “Redefining Conference Professional Respect” sparked up a blaze for me this morning.
In his post, he mentions complaints he read about a recent conference. It seems some attendees thought that others who used the free wireless available to blog and tweet during keynotes were somehow rude.
I started writing a response because the obvious irony of people attending a conference on how to integrate ICTs into education and learning who object to the use of laptops, PDAs and mobile phones to text during a presentation made me snort and shake my head.
Then an image arose — of empty vessels who should passively wait to be filled — and of the image here of a bored student who is just sitting there, waiting for time to pass. And it made me angry because isn’t that what we’ve been trying to break through?
Here was what I was going to post as a comment — until it got so long and I got so fired up I figured it was worth a blog post:
I question the value of lining us all up in chairs facing forward to listen to someone talk over slides — especially at a conference where the concepts of collaboration and new ways of teaching and learning are supposed to be the focus.
How much more engaging would it be to be pointed at a pre-recorded presentation to watch in advance of the day — then come prepared to actively discuss, debate and evaluate the concepts presented?
That way, the wireless connection is not a way of spewing out the highlights but to use to research and collaborate during the live discussion?
We wonder why people new to the concepts of collaboration and decentralised knowledge have problems incorporating them into their teaching and then we provide conferences and PD sessions that are still structured with one font of all knowledge in front of a “class” of empty vessels waiting to be filled.
Can we PLEASE start practicing what we preach? Is there a conference coming up in the near future where the organisers and keynote speakers are willing to send out the materials in advance to allow people to become conference PARTICIPANTS rather than conference ATTENDEES?