∞∞ an image and quote to start ∞∞
“Art is like baby shoes. When you coat them with gold, they can no longer be worn.”
∞ John Updike ∞
I went to IATEFL because I’d never been to a conference and because I was curious.
1) to see what it was like
2) to meet my twitter peeps, and hear some of the well-respected among us.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, and I had an awesome time and am very, very happy that I went. Here’s why I would go again:
Mosaic idea courtesy of Ceri Jones and made here: big huge labs
C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y is the single reason I would go again.
And I do want to go again, just not so far away (which is a big part of the reason “why not”). Luckily I live in Paris and I will definitely be attending TESOL France in November and will hopefully see many of you again. There will be a very very crowded ambrosia fest at my place
Another important reason, but not good enough to make me travel and incur cost would be inSPIRation ( “bringing spirit into you” ). Being with like-minded people, and exchanging ideas is amazing… but… I do that everyday on-line. I’d wager to say that a week of twitter/blog/#eltchat could provide enough materials/ideas for at least a few years of ELT. Or, why not read a book— there are tons of great inspirational ELT books out there.
Think about it for a few seconds… am I exaggerating to make a point, or is it true?
Secondly, as Ken Wilson mentioned in his workshop on “10 things I think I know about teaching and learning”, there’s a serious ground-leveling effect with the Net today. If you don’t agree with some of the “bigger names” in ELT, tell them. I wrote 3 big ol’ long comments on Gavin’s blog yesterday because I disagree fundamentally with his view of Neil Postman and technology use in Education, and we went back and forth exploring.
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think those kind of exchanges can reach a much deeper level than the few seconds/minutes one can attempt to grab from a very occupied presenter at a conference.
(unless you’re pretty extroverted and smooth in a way that puts you with that presenter at a dinner table later on… but be careful not to be pushy—- fatal error)
And, honestly, it’s not just presenters. Everyone’s attention is precious at conferences, and I’ve heard some call ATTENTION the currency of the 21st century. As always to make currency you have to invest— and to get someone new’s attention, most of the time you have to listen first, then share.
In any case, conferences are fascinating social interactions, and I was like a kid in a candy store watching, listening, participating, and dressing up like a panda. LOL
(quick aside- attention has fascinating etymological roots)
(“ten” is a 4500 yr old Indo European root that means to stretch (tendon)
(in latin it became tendere, and add an at, attendere, it becomes to “stretch towards”, with the mind as its common subject = to pay attention)
TRICK QUESTION: what would you do if I gave you 500-1500 euros?
Even if the conference was free… it would still be expensive.
Even if we lived right next door… it would still be expensive.
Even w/o eating or drinking the entire time, it’d still be expensive.
Even we rode our bikes there… … … … .. .. .. .. .. . . i think i’ve made my point.
The ELT community and FREE resources available on the Net are a blessing, especially for those that simply can’t afford to spend 1000 euros on a conference. I did this time and it was a huge personal investment. I think it goes to show how much I’ve grown to care for many of the friends I’ve made on twitter.
Some might say I spent a lot. Others certainly spent more. Yes, there are scholarships, and yes some are lucky enough to be paid to go to conferences. However, the bottom line is that conferences are expensive for many reasons, and in today’s anything, anywhere, anytime world—- there are FREE alternatives charging towards conferences like a tidal wave.
–––– Moving from REAL to Virtual ? ? ? –––––
What can’t you get from a virtual conference that you can can from a “real” conference?
Physical presence. Community. A stronger PLN
I am a huge fan of personal interaction with people. HUGE. However, I’m also a big fan of environmentalism and localism, so honestly I feel a bit torn when it comes to travelling and investing a lot…. when there’s something similar, free, and on my couch at home.
Heike, Berni and Shelly pulled together some greatness last month… and it’s free. Same with the 6 weeks of EVO / Becoming a WebHead. If I were a businessman, I’d be worried about that kind of competition. And if I were a good businessman, I’d be pivoting that way in a heartbeat (see businessman shoes below).
To conclude… can u make a connection between my opinion of a changing conference environment and the original quote at the top? Might feel a bit far-fetched, but even more the reason to werk them critical thinking skills we all seek to challenge in class. LOL
as always, would love to hear what you think.
I’m not here to tell.
I’m hear to share and listen and learn. (chosen mispelling… haha)