Original post at http://lenguadelaz.blogspot.com/2013/02/no-conferencing-but-social-conferencing.html
I talked in a previous post
about my experience with the Relevance LEAD
conference. I want to delve even further into the importance of having a conference with multiple, non-expertise voices rather than a few professional keynote speakers. In Methodism we stress that there is no holiness but social holiness and no religion but social religion yet when we seek ways to learn we continue to turn to an outdated model of listening to the "experts".
When it comes to learning and conferences we need to add that there is no learning but social learning and no conferencing but social conferencing. In this day and age of technology we have learned to take advantage of gaining information from large groups of people rather than isolated individuals. The term is crowdsourcing
and it means that you get ideas, answers, projects, etc by gathering input from as many people as possible. This is usually done via the internet but does not need to be the case.
In a way, conferences like TED and Relevance LEAD use crowdsourcing for sharing information. In the case of Relevance LEAD, rather than inviting Gil Rendle, Adam Hamilton, or Lovett Weems to come tell us the church is dying and we should do something about it, Rob Rynders
and his crew invited multiple voices to share ways that they are already being innovative within the structure of the United Methodist Church. I have nothing against the 3 men mentioned, but they represent only one voice and one idea.
For each speaker invited to LEAD, there were tenfold ideas that were sparked by them. The beauty of limiting a talk to 18 minutes is that the speakers have to be very intentional about what they say. Many of the talks were left vague with much more to be desired. That is not a knock on the talks but rather a praise. Because there was so much ambiguity left on the stage, the conference attendees then were able to expand upon the talks in small groups, over a meal, or over late night drinks.
Conferences should not be monologues, but dialogues. They should spark imagination, creativity, and innovation. They should put forward more questions than answers. They should encourage the attendees to assemble and find possible applications to what is being shared. Most importantly, they should send people home with a full bag of tricks to take home and experiment with in their home conference, city, and local church.
Studies show that lectures don't work, so stop it. Students learn by engaging with the material. Conferences need to leave space for dialogue, experimenting, and interaction. If you're not doing it that way then well...
So let's make sure that conferences are interactive. Give everyone a sense of ownership and the information will go much further. Remember, there is no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness, and no conferencing but social conferencing.