November 7, 2013 by Brad Currie
“I am hoping my Edcamp style of voting with my feet and tweeting all the time doesn’t offend anyone here.” @blocht574
“This should be the norm at all conferences.” @bcurrie5
Above you will find a brief Twitter conversation between two educators, one who was at the actual educational conference at the time of the tweet, and the other (myself) who was sitting at home expanding their personal learning network. Quite frankly, in my own personal opinion, there is no need to apologize or give people a “heads up” that you might leave and/or tweet during a session. Over the past few years educational conferences have transformed for the better. This is due in large part to the EdCamp movement which provides attendees with an informal authentic learning experience. It’s quite okay during an EdCamp to get up and walk out during a session that may not be of interest to you. Admittedly it has taken me some time to get used to this concept, but it is all I know now. Why on earth would you want someone to be in your presentation/conversation that is ready to jump out of their skin? It may come as a shock at first, but over time the autonomy given to people during an educational conference to present what they want and attend sessions that are meaningful to their own growth will pay off in the long run. We preach differentiation to teachers as a way to engage students so why are we not doing the same for attendees at all educational conferences?
Personally, and I think I speak for the growing crop of connected educators out there, I love to Tweet during educational conferences. And I also love to experience bits and pieces of various presentations that may be going on at the same time. It’s also nice knowing that the stress and pressure related to staying in a presentation/conversation that has no value to my professional growth is minimal. Over the past few years my way of learning at educational conferences has changed. First off, I know many more people going in due to the connections I have on Twitter. These relationships allow me to hang out with educators and share best practice ideas. Secondly, when I Tweet out presenter quotes, information, resources, and have real time conversations with people about a particular topic, it makes me a better educator. Third and most important, I am able to impact my educational environment upon returning from a great conference. If I was unable to freely move about from session to session and leverage the power of social media to make sense of the presentation then who does that benefit? Exactly. Nobody.
The bottom line is this: there is no need to apologize or give people a “heads up” that you might be “voting with your feet” or “Tweeting” during a particular session. In fact, you should be given a “pat on the back” for taking the initiative to understand how you learn best and make the most out your professional development. I often wonder if students feel this way while sitting in a class or if teachers feel this way during a faculty meeting. Shouldn’t the disengaged looks and behavior on the faces of attendees in class or at conferences or in faculty meetings be of concern to us all? Maybe we should really think about the irrelevant positions we put ourselves and others in during various learning experiences. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a future Tweet posted that reads as follows: “This educational conference was outstanding, I was able to move from session to session and Tweet out all that I learned.The positive conversations were tremendous.” (I know, for those of you who just counted the characters of my hypothetical tweet know that it is 24 characters over the limit. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Lol.)