Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lesson Study, not Conferences

Tim Holt's got a post up on his problems with ed-tech conferences, mostly revolving around cost (they should be free!), size (smaller!) and target audience (not the already converted).

I'm sympathetic, but I don't think he quite hits the mark.

I think the core problem is less with how conferences are run and more with ed-tech's dependence on conferences, because other routes are just weak in this field. The journals don't seem very influential, the academic programs seem weak, the market is unresponsive and opaque, even online sources are still underdeveloped. We depend on conferences to do more than we should require of them.

Beyond that, I think Tim gets the relationship between national and regional organizations and the conferences they host backwards. As far as I can tell, a lot of these organizations practically exist to manage these conferences. The idea that they could hold them for free implies that they have some other significant source of income which could underwrite the conferences. I don't think so. I think these organizations primarily make their budget by holding the conferences, and without the conference, they wouldn't really exist.

We don't need to try to drag non-technical teachers to ed-tech conferences. We need better professional development in schools. We need, for example, lesson study.

1 comment:

Chris Lehmann said...

Interesting points, Tom. Because we're hosting EduCon, I've been giving a lot of thought to the purpose of conferences lately. Their value is somewhere between exposure, inspiration and application.

But you're right, the real work of innovation happens back at schools, and then we're back to the same question we always seem to find... how do we structure our schools so that we can affect meaningful change in them?

(And, I do agree with Tim about the costs... we can't do EduCon for free, but I think $50 should be inexpensive enough to make it affordable for everyone, and in Philly SD that matters these days.)