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NCDD-DISCUSSION  April 2006, Week 2

NCDD-DISCUSSION April 2006, Week 2

Subject:

Re: discussion vs. data dump at conferences

From:

"[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 10 Apr 2006 12:27:03 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (95 lines)

Debbie,

I've been piloting on-line forums to parallel face to face events, with the
goal of giving more interaction opportunities of people who attend an
event, as well as giving people who don't attend, the chance to connect
with speakers, participants and the knowledge of a conference.

I do this because the conferences I host are part of a process of building
understanding of a problem and participation in solutions to that problem.

I introduced myself to this list a few months ago after meeting Jim Rough
at a Midwest Facilitators Meeting in Chicago. I'm hoping that someo of you
who are struggling with the same question Debby has raised, will take a
role in the Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conference and eConference
(http://www.tutormentorconference.bigstep.com) with the goal of innovating
ways you might incorporate these ideas into other conferences, and other
causes.

While I've hosted face to face Tutor/Mentor Conferences every six months
since 1994, I've only been doing the eConference since 2004. In addition,
the T/MC conferences are a very low-cost, grassroots type of event. We
don't have any significant sponsors, thus we depend on volunteers and
partners to innovate new strategies.  On May 17 IUPUI will be hosting one
of the eConferences, using technology that would be out of reach for my
organization if I had to purchase it.  At http://www.alado.net/econference,
you can see how we've used voice-over IP for conferences, because of
donated technology and services made available by the Digital Workforce
Education Society at City Colleges of Chicago.

I think the internet is the only place that large groups of people can stay
connected to each other, and can connect with the vast pool of world-wide
knowledge that is available to use in innovating solutions to local
problems. If we can develop this potential, then events hosted by anyone
can serve as "energizers" and "public awareness builders" for this on-going
process of solving major social issues.

I've written about this in my blog several times in the past year.

Dan Bassill
http://tutormentor.blogspot.com

 Original Message:
-----------------
From: Debby Sugarman [log in to unmask]
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2006 21:20:25 -0700
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [NCDD-LIST] discussion vs. data dump at conferences


I'm wondering if anyone has had experience with 
creating discussion time at conferences.

I've had an ongoing passion for working with 
conference organizers to get them to plan their 
conferences around what theyíd like the 
participants to get out of the experience rather 
than how they can best please the speakers who 
come to present.  It makes my stomach turn to see 
smart, passionate, active people spend valuable 
time and money to come together to not talk to 
each other and see the conference organizers 
spend their time concerned more about how to give 
enough air time to the speakers rather than 
planning for the best use of time for all participants.

But Iíve seen that those times when conference 
organizers have allowed space for participatory 
events, they are very sparsely attended.  (this 
would include a World Cafť, an Open Space and an 
opportunity for discussion on a carefully chosen 
question in place of a closing keynote).  Having 
a discussion as a final event seems to be a bad 
idea because most people use the opportunity to 
leave early.  But I canít wrap my brain around 
why SO many fewer people would want to just do 
the passive activities and not the active 
discussions.  When asked they say they want more 
interaction time, but in reality they donít 
stay.  Iíd expect as little as 20% interest but Iím seeing 1-3% interest.

Has anyone else done some experimenting with 
alternative conference formats?  (conferences of 
facilitators like NCDD donít count)  Iíd like to 
hear if anyone has discovered what works/ what 
doesnít work to get attendance at participatory 
events at  conferences or if others are also stumped by what they see.

Debby Sugarman
Takoma Park, MD
716-479-1490

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