Friday, February 1, 2013

Preaching to the converted

Audience by adactio, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by adactio

The problem with conferences in all lines of business is that they gather large numbers of people who are all in the same business and tend to agree on most things. At all the e-learning conferences I attend there is a wonderful consensus in the air as we all enthuse about new trends and all agree that "something has to be done" about this and that. I often wish that we could see more outsiders at these events, especially more decision makers such as government officials, politicians, principals, heads of department and so on. Instead of preaching to the converted it would be good to let skeptics see how much good work is going on and maybe realize that our field has come of age.

However a blog post by Bill FerriterWhy Preaching to the #educhoir Really DOES Matter, changes the perspective. He agrees that ed tech conferences can be echo chambers where everyone agrees with each other but at the same time notes that many teachers and educational technologists need such an oasis to gather new energy.

"The simple truth is that being a change agent can be a REALLY lonely experience.
And while we have to remind ourselves to constantly introduce dissenting voices to our learning streams, never discount the role that singing together can play in lifting us up, affirming our core values and beliefs, and fighting back against professional isolation."

Both angles are of course valid. We do need to widen the discussion and get more decision makers on board but we also need to offer meeting places for all the innovators and pioneers who are often in need of reassurance and recognition and the vital insight that there are other people just as mad as me out there.

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