18 October 2011

The Next Wave

This most recent set of conferences I've been attending is about the last for 2011. At this point in the year, I start to think about retiring my current slide decks and building new ones to extend the conversation from the current year.

Except...

With conference attendance diminishing with budgets and people attending as schedules and interests allow, it strikes me that there will always be a need for a "Start Here" sort of session when it comes to the work I do. If you're new to your job, just moved to the state, are a beginning teacher, or just haven't gotten to go to anything for awhile, you've missed the opportunities to learn the basics.

I do have a place online to put the old stuff. There are narrated tutorials anyone with an Internet connection can watch at any time. Noobs can engage with the content at their leisure (and others can review), but I also want to acknowledge that learning something online (especially in an asynchrous environment) is not the same as physically being with others who are. I don't want to claim that one is better or worse than the other. I think that depends on the skill of the presenter and the individual needs of the participant. What I do wonder is that by retiring a conference session after a year that we're eliminating a very important pathway for people to engage with the content.

As much as we discuss the concept of readiness for students, I really think there's something to that for adults, too. I've had any number of experiences working with adult learners when the proverbial light bulb goes off over their heads. Readiness emerges in waves every year. And I don't know how to account for that in an ever-changing educational landscape.

I'm going to have to ponder this some more as I start to prepare proposals for next year's conferences. How do we bring people up to speed while we're forging ahead? Have you seen something that works?

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