BLC and Conference Format….An Open Letter to Alan

Hi Alan,

My name is Clint Kennedy and I am currently enjoying my last session of the last day of the 2008 BLC conference.  This is my first time attending the conference and I very much appreciate what you have done and are doing in the world of education and learning.

I do, however, have what I hope is some constructive criticism in regards to the conference and the way it is setup.  Twice during the conference I heard you mention that the real benefits of the conference come from the conversations attendees will be having by coming togther in this location for this week.  You and Ewan also mentioned that you believe the collective wisdom of the conference attendees is far superior to the  collective wisdom of the presenters.  Marc Prensky stated that “in 10 years the BLC conference will not be lecture based because people attending will not learn that way.”  Pedro Noguera stated that “teaching and talking is not the same.”  If we accept these statements as true, for arguments sake, why do we continue to sit in conference sessions as they are designed currently?  Who is to say that we are learning optimally with the lecture model?  Do we think that lecture is the way we as adults learn optimally?  Why do we continue to “sit and get” as opposed to having opportunities to be active learners?  The non-keynote sessions I have attended have ranged from very informative to very boring but most if not all were delivered using a teacher-centered model.   Can we change the format of the conference to be more attendee centric?  Could we  organize the conference around components of the unconference model?  

I would propose keeping the keynote speakers (they have been very thought provoking and they can and should provide theme and context), however, I would change all other sessions to unconference sessions.  Support teams would be needed to organize rooms, times, resources, etc.  Teams could organize and support the recording/capturing/tagging of the sessions.  And November Learning could certainly help educate the conference attendees as to what to expect from an unconference before they arrive.

I am writing this to you Alan because I think our community needs you to be the one that takes the learning conference to the next level and I think you are a leader that can make this happen.  I also think it would be great to be able to practice the pedagogy that we discussed so frequently during the last week.  Again, I want to thank you for a wonderful conference.  The people I met and exchanged ideas with were top notch.  I can only imagine the time and effort that goes into this production.  See you next year!

Thank you,

Clint Kennedy

Mystic, CT