It has been a long day with traveling in the snow and trying to pay attention to my GPS’s voice. I can’t help thinking of HAL the computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey. I wondered if at any time the voice would send me crashing over an embankment at the end of a dead-end road in New Jersey. That sends chills even as I write the words. I must say that the trip was definitely worth the chance I took with the GPS voice and the treacherous weather burdened roads. After four hours of driving, I arrived in Philadelphia for the #EduCon Conference.
For those of you not familiar with this three-year-old conference, here is the description from the official website:
And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.
From the organizers’ description it should be obvious that this isn’t your father’s education conference. It is different for another big reason and that would be Social Media, specifically Twitter.
We have all heard the opinion that Social Media is causing people to be disconnected. It does not allow the same deep relationships as experienced in face to face connections. This conference totally debunks that myth. #EduCon is different in its mission, organization and focus compared to other educational conferences. More than that, many, if not most, of its organizers, presenters, and attendees are connected by Twitter.
Any good educational conference electrifies the participants with a vibrant energy and a need to share what they experienced at the conference with their colleagues. With Twitter the #EduCon electricity and sharing began before the conference even opened. People from all over the country, as well as other countries, have been tweeting the praise of this conference for a year now, since the last #EduCon ended. The twitter community of educators has been buzzing about their plans to attend for months. Excitement started building not just for the content in the conference, but the excitement about meeting Twitter colleagues and sharing ideas in person.
People who have never met in person greet each other with hugs and kisses. I am not the most emotionally outgoing person, so I am not really comfortable with the hugs and kisses, but in meeting many of my Twitter colleagues, even I was engaging in these gregarious greetings. Sharing is the key to this conference and it started before, continues during and will undoubtedly continue after the last session on the last day.
Twitter injects an element of sharing far more than that which has ever been capable before. People shared as they traveled to #EduCon. They used Twitter to meet up with those they knew and those they were about to see for the first time. They will be sharing with thousands as they tweet out ideas from each of the sessions they attend. Take note of all of the tweets with the #EduCon hashtags. They will use Twitter to stay connected and exchange ideas with the #EduCon participants long after the conference ends. This conference is unique in the fact that Twitter enables it to be more akin to a family gathering than an education conference of disconnected strangers. I am having a great time-sharing with all those who I have been connected to for so long. Even as we meet in person for the first time, we experience a sense of deep connection. There is also a connection to #EduCon which seems to bring out the best in educators.