How to bring Social Media to a Conference focused on Learning… not Technology?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

cross-posted to the Langwitches Blog

Social Media has given educators the opportunity for self-directed, collaborative and connected learning. Network literacy , according to Eric Hellweg, requires a basic understanding of network technology, intelligence, capabilities and the ability of crafting one’s own network identity.

So, how do you bring the benefits of social media to a conference without making the conference ABOUT social media or technology? How do you share the basics of connecting and learning collaboratively with attendees who are newbies?

The question is how do you bring social media to a conference (?) where:

  • most attendees and presenters might have heard of social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
  • maybe 30 % have an account in one of the platforms
  • at best less than 5% or conference participants are active and fluent on these platforms

The BIG idea behind bringing social media to a(ny) conference is to bring awareness to social networking for (and as) professional development, opportunities to practice these skills & literacies and create a culture  of sharing best practices and collaboration! How do we make it visible to newbies that it is NOT about technology, but about learning, sharing and connecting that learning?

I have been wrestling with the issue “It is NOT about technology“/ It IS about Technology for a while ( Never Was About Technology?– Time to Focus on Learning?, Take the Technology out of the Equation) and of course, it is not about the technology (it is about learning), but I am observing more and more educators , who are not comfortable with nor technology literate, are being left out of/ behind LEARNING opportunities.

How do we bring these learning opportunities to more educators?

I have reflected about the use of social media at conferences frequently:

How can conference organizers prepare for a conference and to be able to give attendees the opportunity to PARTICIPATE and EXPERIENCE the power of collaborative learning. For crowdsourcing, collaborative note taking and documentation from a variety of perspectives and locations, you NEED, well, a variety of people to contribute. It is imperative to not turn the conference into a conference about technology and social media, but make sure that the focus and emphasis stays on learning as we are using technology as an amplification and redefinition tool.

I have brainstormed steps in order to facilitate a “Watch- Do- Learn” approach.

Pre-Conference: Bring awareness to social media as a learning tool, introduce conference attendees to social media and networking and make further resources to learn more about social media available

  • Organized Twitter Chat or webinar
  • Creation of a Twitter account upon conference registration
  • Social Media resources available
  • Presenters and keynote speakers briefed and prepared to embed Social Media reminders into sessions

During the Conference: Give attendees hands-on experience, reflection and sharing time

  • Help Desk
  • Breakout Session
  • Tidbit sessions
  • Built-in reflection time
  • Mixed Cohort/ Social Media Team (Students/Teachers)
  • Presenters embed Social Media awareness and practice time
  • Backchannel Display: Strategic Location

Post-Conference: Reflective, connected, collaborative and networked

  • Reflective blog posts contributed to a central blog hub
  • Debriefing organized via Twitter chat or conference hashtag
  • Local coaching to connect and amplify learning when conference participants return to their home schools

 

Social-Media-conference-tolisanoWhat are some of your approaches/ideas to bringing social media for/as learning to conferences without making the conference about social media and technology?