We intended to brainstorm ideas during the Rendezvous, but got too involved in discussing the cases that were presented, so we deferred it to here. Please post one idea per post, so others can reply and expand upon what you suggest.
I am wondering how big conferences will change in the future. Because of technology we can have all kinds of gathering spaces/social spaces on-ine and most of the e-learn conference could be on-line.... and save us the travelling and hotels etc. This kind of conference structure where there are lots of sessions taking place at the same time and you can only follow one at a time.. maybe this is not the best use of resources.
But I have been watching the trend in conferences/gatherings of computer gigs lately and there is this trend to have a kind of network camping... and there is less structured setting and more participation by audience. I went to Wikimania conference in Frankfurt in Germany in August, it was partly like that but the most famous is foo-camp
I am planning to go to the Les Blogs blogging conference in Paris in December, I think may it is structured in the same way, now the activity is through a wiki, a wiki and a blog is used to plan the conference
Maybe these kind of conferences and camps is a trend we should watch..
For those interested I give these links to the camp style conferences:
When geeks go camping, ideas hatch (wired article obout foo-camp 2004)
(bbc article about whatthehack, Amsterdam in october 2005)
Pictures say more than 5000 words, here are flickr photos from these conferences:
We tended to shy away from simple presentations opting for discussion panels instead. Most participants were well know because of their internet presence (blogs mostly) and this likely helped contribute to a very lively discussion. Given that many sessions can now be recorded and podcast, the discussion seems to be one of the better ways to add value by being there.
Tagging helped make this conference one of the most well documented at the time:
Another practice that has been used effectively is to have a COP or SIG scan the program (which needs to be available online beforehand) prior to the event and earmark all of the sessions that are of interest.
At UBC and Northern Voice, the network infrastructure was robust enough to support informal chat and collaborative documents realtime. The network was not open but simple enough to get onto. In addition to IRC channels, many of the Mac users use SubEthaEdit to take notes (and negotiate roles) in real time. This practice _feels_ like play and gets people networking and engaged.
Thanks for this example of canadian blogger campstyle conference. It seems like people in the blogosphere and wikipedians are paving the way to new style of social gatherings/learnings sessions.
I just got an e-mail about Wikimania 2006 and it is very interesting to observe how this conference is being planned.
The next Wikimania will be held in Boston in mid-2006.
There is a the Meta-wiki:
Now there is discussion about what conference management system to use and who should be keynote speakers. Everyone can participate.
I think we all can learn from observing this, especially those who will be arranging conferences that have a strong on-line community.
2. Wear special interest cues on your name tag -- something like coloured dots that tell others you're interested in CoPs, K-12, math education, etc.
3. Set up a pre-conference asynchronous area for introductions and conversation. Build in a form so delegates can retrieve names of people based on geography, interests, domain, education sector, etc.
So what was missing most for me was someplace to go where there are other PEOPLE when I was between events. The hallways were very cold and unfriendly. There weren't really good places for schmoozing . . .
I agree with many of your comments about the eLearn conference. I had a great time, met some super people, and learned many new things. I also learned that I was not too far off target in some of the things I do so that was encouraging.
I felt the Welcome Reception on Tuesday night would be a great place to meet some new people. For those of us living in Vancouver and without a hotel room to hide in for an hour, the time between 5 pm and 6 pm when the reception began may be a time when the conference looses valuable contact with some of its players. I stayed because it was convenient this time but generally I am tempted to go home after a long first day.
Perhaps some of this organized 'social time' could be better spent earlier in the day. I know this is really for those staying in the hotel but other options might entice others to stay and socialize. Also, I would have loved to attend one of the 'networking lunches' but as a new consultant, $25 for lunch is not in my budget.
Everyone clapped and laughed, and a buzz of conversation followed. It made me think that this is something I would have liked to see at eLearn. I'm not sure in what format, but this airplane incident sure stuck with me!
If you search on the technorati tag "unconference" you will see there is a persistent conversation thread across blogs on this topic. Lots of great ideas. I notice I tend to blog about it every 6-8 weeks!
I am very interested in the camp meme. I checked technorati for camp and unconference and found out many parts of the world are having campstyle gatherings. Here is one in Ireland
Tech Camp Ireland
I noticed John Breslin who I met at Wikimania this summer was involved in the organization and one of the presenters. In his presentation he reveiled his plan for world domination
he runs and founded boards.ie which is popular Irish discussion board.
There is even a camp conference joke, a site that makes fun of this new trend, I think this site is quit funny:
And it is most interesting that Dave Winer is cooking something up right now , he calls this idea Hypercamp.
See this website
Wikipedia page about Dave Winer
It's a really great read, with many things to learn about making conferences more community friendly. For one thing, I bet their willingness to take risks with the keynote format will go down in history. I found the comment on the importance of anonymous back channels interesting. I've had no experience with this and I'm curious to know how others feel about it. What does the ability to be anonymous contribute to the event?