Social Media Involvement at Non-Tech Conferences

So here we are in the aftermath of NECC and I’m gearing up for the new school year. If you remember back a few months ago I was tweeting and blogging from the North Carolina Middle School Association Conference. At the time, here was my reflection on the use of technology at the conference:

There was a serious lack of technology at this conference. Let me be clear, I’m not talking a lack of technology sessions, I’m talking a lack of technology use. Throughout the two days I could count on my fingers and toes the number of folks I saw walking around with laptops. I was sending out updates from the conference on Twitter, and the only other tweets related to NCMSA were from two other presenters. As Will Richardson pointed out here: “…[I]t’s a shame that the collective experience of the people in this room is about to walk off in two hundred different directions without any way to share and reflect on the thinking they’ve been doing all day.” The things that are going on at technology conferences today really are drawing in folks to the collaborative nature of the Internet as it now stands.

So this year, I have been asked what my suggestions are for getting other people involved in using social media at the conference.  So after some thinking, and a good discussion on Twitter with @Frideswidel and @budtheteacher here are some of the best ideas thus far.

  • Plan a conference hashtag now.  I am suggesting #NCMSA10 for the obvious factor.  This helps give the conference an online identity for tweets, blog posts, Flickr uploads, videos, etc.
  • Encourage participants to bring laptops/mobile devices and tweet/blog during and after sessions.  I think some short profiles of ways to get involved in bringing the conference online should be included in communication to attendees early and often.  It seems to me many who are not directly involved in tech conferences are unaware of ways to use technology to share their learning.
  • Include Twitter usernames on nametags.  This would require a place for Twitter IDs on the registration form, but would show a commitment to encouraging the use of Twitter at the conference.
  • Monitor or LCD projector displaying Tweets with the hashtag in common area of the conference.  I like the idea of VisibleTweets running with the feed of hashtagged tweets near the registration area or in the Exhibit hall.
  • Encourage presenters to post information/handouts/videos to a conference wiki.  A centralized location for discussions and session information would keep people from having to head off in 100 different directions for information.
  • Try and get the hotel/convention center to offer Wifi to all conference attendees, not just those staying in the hotel.  I’m wondering if some of the lack of laptops comes from the number of attendees who don’t stay in the hotel and therefore don’t have free wireless access.

These are some cursory thoughts.  I’m actively seeking other input.  The things happening at tech conferences like NECC are amazing.  The sharing, the conversations, the backchannels…how do we harness that in the huge number of conferences that are much less “tech intense”?

This tweet ultimately sums up my feelings:
Aviary twitter-com Picture 1

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2 Responses

  1. Your thoughts are mirroring the ones I have had this past week at a national conference for student leaders. There were a handful of us who actively use Twitter and we posted easily 90% of the tweets about this conference and workshops. But we keep pushing and as a result, got several new people on Twitter during the week.

    We also did not see technology companies at this conference. It is a shame, because these student leaders will help us to encourage their teachers to begin using more technology (not just Twitter) and if the students ask, the teachers have another reason to push in their own schools for access to more technology tools.

    Another suggestion that you might try that we are going to try as well is to get on the program with a session on social media networking during conferences. I agree we have to model what we want to see happen.

    Good luck to us both!

  2. […] Social Media Involvement at Non-Tech Conferences « The Technorate Teacher (tags: twine Twine_Bookmarks education) […]

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