There are certain education conferences that people look forward to attending each and every year. Certainly the big national conferences with thousands of attendees and hundreds of vendors are the conferences most familiar to educators. The state organizations usually draw big crowds of educators as well. At one time this is how educators networked and saw the newest of the new, and the best of the best. All of that is represented at big education conferences.
With the introduction of the internet, conferencing as an activity has changed. There is a transparency to conferences that was not possible before. Social Media has armed educators with the power to report out exactly what is happening at any conference. Not only are there tweeted comments about the conference, people often comment on specific sessions for all the world to see, blemishes and all. For those who closely follow conference tweets through the use of hashtags, there are many horror stories of presenters who crashed and burned, having each and every flame described to the world in tweets from the audience.
A specific hashtag is created for each conference, so that it can be discussed on Twitter. The symbol, # starts the tag with a few identifying letters to follow. For example: the hashtag for the upcoming ASCD Conference will be #ASCD12. Anyone tweeting from, or about that conference will tag their tweets with that hashtag. Anyone wanting to follow what’s going on at that conference, need only create a follow column for #ASCD12, and each and every tweet about the conference will flow through that column. I have found TweetDeck and Hootesuite to be the best Apps to use for this purpose. Social Media people are beginning to gauge a conference’s success by the positive buzz generated by tweeters. Social Media savvy organizations are beginning to understand this and are developing Social media strategies.
Of all of the conferences dealing with education, there is one very small one (I think between 3-400 attendees) that creates the greatest Buzz with the Social Media connected educators. The audience of attendees is made larger by the Livestreaming of sessions over the internet to those who couldn’t attend in person. For the last four years EduCon has taken place in Philadelphia sponsored by The Science Leadership Academy, which is headed up by Chris Lehman, an outstanding educator, leader, and speaker. This conference differs from most others centering about education. There are very few vendors. There are very few formal presentations. EduCon is based on discussions lead by discussion leaders. The leaders present the topic which they have some stake in or knowledge of, and direct the discussion from there. It is a simple formula with no bells or whistles.
There is another thing that makes this conference different from the rest of the education conferences. Most of those big one’s have been around for years, and are learning how to adapt to social media. #Educon in many respects was born through social media. Most of the educators in attendance are connected educators. It is almost a requirement for connected educators to tweet their impressions out about #Educon at every session they attend. When you look at a twitterstream for the #Educon hashtag it is not a trickling brook, but a white-water rapids of a river racing with tweets of opinion, reflection, information, and occasionally adoration. If all conferences were only judged by the buzz they created, the EduCon would rival or surpass all the top contenders. I am sorry I missed actually attending EduCon this year, but I am keeping up with the tweets. I look forward to next year.