on education conferences

In reading some of the fantastic posts coming out of the recent conferences in Barcelona (see [Scott Leslie’s work of art](http://www.edtechpost.ca/free-and-learning/) or [Jon Beasley-Murray’s](http://posthegemony.blogspot.com/2010/11/blase.html), or [Brian Lamb’s recap](http://blogs.ubc.ca/brian/2010/11/abierto-o-cerrado/) or the rest of the planet’s stuff [here](http://www.google.ca/search?q=opened2010&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=v&source=lnms&tbs=blg:1&ei=ib7eTLH5BIy2sAO9v9m-Cg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&ved=0CBIQ_AU&prmdo=1) and [here](http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmdo=1&tbs=blg%3A1&q=drumbeat+barcelona&aq=f&aqi=g1g-m1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=) ), I was struck by how much more impact the “non-educational” Drumbeat conference seems to have had, in comparison to the “educational” Open Education conference. Maybe it’s just that the people I follow are strongly in The Choir, so the OpenEd conference isn’t as revelatory for them, but it seems as though the more generally hackerish and cultural-focused Drumbeat conference caused more of a stir in thinking.

This is not a sleight against OpenEd, which by all accounts was a fantastic experience. It’s just that Drumbeat appears to have caused more of a profound, cultural(?) effect. I’m just interpreting based on the ephemeral tweets and more-rare blog posts posted by people who were lucky enough to be in Barcelona.

I’ve noticed a similar thing in conferences I’ve gone to. The “education” conferences had some interesting sessions, and provided a chance to meet some interesting people, but the “non-educational” conferences seem to really push me out of my comfort zone, and to more radically alter how I think about things (including, or especially, education).

It’s one of the reasons I love Northern Voice so much. It’s not an “education” conference. It’s a social/communication/sharing/culture conference, with an educational aspect. It’s the mix of people from various fields and walks of life, most of whom would never in a million years find themselves in an “education” conference, that makes it such a fascinating and compelling experience. One that has caused me to think (and rethink) each year I’ve gone.

So, while there’s still a chance I may be forced to attend an “education” conference for work, I don’t think I’ll be asking to go to any. I’m going to try to focus on the “non-education” events as much as possible (which, frankly, isn’t very often, given budgetary constraints on campus…)

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