Monday, February 08, 2010

UnConferencing History Education

As a seasoned veteran of the History Education conferences circuit each fall, I've been thinking a lot about them lately. My experiences and impressions of the annual teacher conferences has really only declined over the past few years.

From my own impression, numbers are increasingly down and increasing participation in provincial teaching bodies continues to be a struggle. And yet, there really has been little talk of changing the format of the annual conferences or the way in which they do business. For displayers, which is often my own role, it affects how we can get our message out to the education community.

After several conversations with other displayers and presenters this past fall, we put the challenge out to each other to convince our own respective provinces to try something new and look to the unconference movement. An unconference is essentially "a facilitated participant-driven face-to-face conference around a theme or purpose."

It seems strange that so much effort is made to bring together teachers, who all teach the same class and subject material, but not actually provide space and time for them to talk to each other.

Which is why I'm really happy that some preliminary discussions with my provincial teachers conference organizers seems to be going well. I'm putting together a pitch to get some more unconference like events built into the standard day. I would really like to have displayers take part in some Lightning Talks, which I've seen used really well before. I'm also hoping to create some sessions based around getting teachers talking to each other and setting their own agenda.

What kinds of things do you think should be included in this conference. I'm hoping this will be a lot of fun. I'm also encouraged when I see stuff like TeachMeet in the UK.