Conference vs (un)conference

I’m back home from a wonderful weekend away in Dunedin and Invercargill. While I stayed with friends in Dunedin, a car-load of us drove down to Invercargill for an educamp. I love educamps – they’re so different from the usual conferences I attend. Don’t get me wrong – I love conferences too – but educamps provide the opportunity to sit down and have conversations with others in a way that’s very difficult at a conference. At conferences we tend to maintain a frenetic pace rushing from one session to another; grabbing moments to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, and occasionally getting to sit down over a meal for a quick conversation. I love reconnecting with friends but come away feeling like we’ve only managed a bit of a conversation and needing more.

Enter educamp. I’ve been to three now – Wellington, Dunedin, and Invercargill. They’ve all been different because what happens is dictated by who attends and what’s important on the day. The one key factor for all of the educamps I’ve attended has been the conversations. At Ulearn, one of the presenters at the Pecha Kucha session talked about that while our online connections are important, it is also important to turn our computers off and meet each other face to face for conversations. How true this is.

Being able to sit down with a small group of like minded people and talk about what’s happening in our classrooms or our schools, or what we’re passionate about, or the current learning that’s been happening for us, is extremely valuable. ┬áIf I just sit around talking with my colleagues from school I’m never going to learn about how things work in a small school, or a rural school, or even a school in a different area of the country.

Educamp provides wonderful opportunities to talk about the things that are important to us. We can ask questions, debate, agree or disagree.

Most of all we can learn.


6 thoughts on “Conference vs (un)conference

  • November 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Indeed is about content or connections? Can it be about both?

  • November 14, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Hi Stephanie – I think it’s about both. The connections drive the content in many ways. While the educamp may start off in a particular direction, the people involved can end up going off on a tangent. We had a small group in Invercargill so didn’t even break off into groups – we had an extended conversation around a number of topics – so not even really a smack down although we started off doing the smack down. And we finished with a tour of the school after a late lunch.

  • November 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Your post has a real resonance with me, Jo. I spend a huge amount of time online, mainly for work – and I love it. But the more time I spend online, the more I enjoy the face-to-face connection. The part of few years of working in online communities and studying for a MEd at a distance have really brought it home to me how vitally important kanohi ki te kanohi is for us all. It’s a human need, I think. Hence my final Pecha Kucha slide (yes, it was me!);-) Because, after all, nearly all our online time is spent trying to improve our off-line reality:-) Glad you had a fab weekend – and love how the Educamp series has taken off this year. I’ll share your post in the Educamp thread here [], if that’s ok? Unless you want to post there direct?

  • November 17, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Interesting pieces. I’m writing a newspaper piece on iphone photography. Could you contact me.

  • November 29, 2011 at 10:11 am

    My name is Jessica Walker and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am currently enrolled in EDM310 in Dr. Strange’s class. I think it is great that they have things like educamps for teachers and administrators to attend. It is so important to keep in touch with other educators to share ideas about what is working and not working in their own classrooms. I had no idea that they have camps for teachers to attend. I hope that one day I can go to an educamp one day.
    Thank you!
    Jessica Walker

  • February 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    My name is Erika Conn and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am currently enrolled in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class. I think educamps are a fantastic idea. I think that being able to sit around with teachers you are not used to being around and sharing your ideas would be of great value. When you have small discussions you benefit more than sitting in front of one person lecturing to you. I was not aware of conferences like this. I hope to one day be able to attend an educamp!

    Thank you!
    Erika Conn

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