My most recent attendance at ed tech related conferences was interesting. I was at the ETUG spring workshop in Kelowna in early June and previously at the Ed Tech Summit in Toronto in April. I admit that titles like “Summit” seem a little heady, the spirit of both conferences was interesting. With a background that has focused mostly on language education and my personal long interest and participation in CALL and Educational Technology related aspects of conferences, these conferences, particularly the ETUG spring workshop were familiar territory.
Unlike traditional conferences where presenters “read” papers (I’ve seen that – reading a manuscript….. zzzzz) or deliver lecture style presentations on their research, ETUG was much like the typical language education conference in that sessions tended to be participatory and hands-on. I much prefer that style for a lot of reasons – perhaps first and foremost because whether in language education or working as a learning technologist, I find it much more purposeful. Yes, theory drives good choices and pedagogy, but it is the active research/scholarly teaching aspect that speaks to me.
It was also a nice change to go to a couple conferences just to learn. It had been quite a while since I was at a conference at which I didn’t present. Often I find myself presenting a couple (or more) times at a conference and while it is wonderful to be part of the discourse as a speaker, it can also draw a lot of my focus and energy on the sessions I’m leading. Sometimes we just need to be a learner and get ideas and see innovative approaches from colleagues. To that end, it was a nice change. I imagine that at future such events, I’ll be sharing ideas and approaches – whatever those may be, but I felt juiced up from the energy and ideas and came home with a few new arrows in my quiver.