Conference 2.0 — Ten Tips for Extending your Education Conference

.0001% of the exhibitors areaI have worked at several conferences over the past couple of months, that have attempted to extend their services into the blogosphere and other planes of Read/Write web activity. I know of several others who will be attempting to implement web 2.0 features in the near future.

So here are some of the things that I’ve seen, that seemed to work — and a couple of ideas that I’ve thought up by myself. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll refer to the Our State Technology in Education Conference, or OSTEC:

  1. Communication: The conference should have a web page linked from the front page of the site. It might be called something like OSTEC Extended. This page could link to online handouts and other standard resources, but also include information about Web 2.0 features such as suggested tags, links to and information about the conference blog, links to conference wikis, and an aggregation of conference related blogs and pictures. You might also include a search box that will search conference blogs for key words.

    Also, consider sending out e-mail and snail-mail notices of your Web 2.0 features — especially to presenters. A conference blog is an excellent place for speakers to promote their sessions.

  2. Tagging: Suggesting a tag for conference bloggers and photographers makes it easy to aggregate the discussion into a single page and into attendees (and lurker’s) aggregatores. There are three essential rules for establishing a conference tag. It should be simple, simple, and simple. The simplest tag is ostec (or fetc or whatever). Many conferences, though, are adding the year, asking bloggers and photographers to tag their material with ostec2006. It is probably wise to aggregate both tags.
  3. Conference blog: Several conferences I have worked in the past couple of weeks have offered a conference blog. This is easy to do with Blogger. Post the e-mail address of the owner of the conference blog, usually the communications officer of the association. People who want to blog, send the e-mail request, and the blog owner:
    1. logs into blogger,
    2. clicks the “Settings” tab, and
    3. then “Members”.
    4. Then paste in the return address of the person requesting to blog, and click “Save Settings”.

    An e-mail goes to the person with a link that will click them in as a user. If they are not already a member of Blogger, they will have to establish an account.

  4. Photos: Include, in the conference extension page, instructions for tagging photos uploaded to flickr with the conference tag. Also include instructions for creating a flickr e-mail address, for people with mobile phones that can e-mail pictures. Designate someone with a mobile phone to take regular pictures at the conference for e-mailing to flickr.
  5. Wiki Notes (advanced): Establish a conference wiki and set up a page for each presentation. Then set up a way that attendees can add their notes to the wiki for their presentation. I have done this with my presentations, with varying degrees of success. When it works, it is a great service.
  6. Session blogs: Ask presenters to establish tags for their sessions, encouraging attendees to blog about the session, including their insights.
  7. Infrastructure: Hands-down, this is a necessity. Have wireless Internet in every session room. It should be robust and dependable. If there is a password required, it should be posted on the wall in every room.
  8. Blog Reporters. Establish conference blog-o-reporters. Also establish a team of podcasters, who go around recording interviews with attendees and with selected presenters. Reporters and podcasters might be pre-service education students.
  9. Podcasts & Webcasts: Podcast (or Webcast) selected sessions. Be careful about seeking permission to podcast sessions, especially from people who make a living by delivering presentations. They may be reluctant to grant permission, or they may be eager to.
  10. Training: Consider offering a pre-conference (day-before or early morning) session on Web 2.0 and the conference, helping participants to establish a blog, set up an aggregator, or other applications that will enable a more productive conference and to help them to contribute more ideas to the conference.

These are just 10 tips. Please add by commenting on this blog entry.

20 thoughts on “Conference 2.0 — Ten Tips for Extending your Education Conference”

  1. After attending many a conference this year, I have to agree with everything that you said…… would truly expand the conference in so many levels. Especially that of memory………. It is so easy to get inspired while in a session and then “poof” that inspiration gets buried as you move on to the next session. Your suggestions would enable everyone to be able to jog their memories LONG after the session is over.

    I would like to add an #11 if I could.
    Start thinking of having sessions led by speakers who are not present at the site but present on screen. There are wonderful new softwares — GoToMeeting (, Macromedia Breeze (, Microsoft Live Meeting ( which are just a few suggestions of live meeting conferencing which could truly EXPAND the ability to have speakers present yet not on site.

    If this is too far-fetched — at least think of the possilibity that a presenter who is lets say at CUE in Palm Springs, could co-present with a speaker who is at home in Australia.

    Just a thought…………grins, I have been reading “The World is Flat” can you tell??

    Smiles to you!

  2. Thanks Dave, I will share this with the ACTEM conference committee. We are planning the ACTEM technology conference in Maine for October 13, 2006, The 21st Century is Now!
    As always whenever I read your posts I am enlightened.

  3. Dave, We are planning a pre-conference with Bob Sprankle on Thur. (Oct. 12 at ACTEM, he will have a 3 hour session for training a limited number of folks for podcasting. Included in the price for the session will be a recorder and a request if people are comfortable, recording and podcasting at least one session of the conference. What a great way to encourage the masses. Cheryl

  4. I think you make a great point. These resources would really enhance (and extend) the impact of a conference.

    I can think of a couple of other suggestions:

    Prior to the CUE conference in Palm Spring, CA, many presenters recorded introductions to their sessions that were made available through a podcast. Any information beyond the short blurb in the program about a session really makes scheduling your day easier.

    I attended the Distance Learning Conference in Madison, WI last summer and they video recorded all of the keynote addresses and made them available on their website. (I have returned to Michael Schrage’s comments on a couple of occasions.)

    Thanks for the good ideas

  5. The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) has been discussing the need to implement many of the enhancements you suggest. Your ideas are excellent, and come at a good time when we are just beginning planning our 2007 Conference in Detroit on March 14-16.

    Thanks for initiating this thread and I look forward to reading other comments.

    (Good to see David at FETC last week!)


  6. Two comments:

    Evaluation is key. All the cool technology in the world won’t make a difference till we reframe the idea of “a conference”. It seems to me that assessing how connected people are afterwards, how much collaboration happens as a result (or even just how much schmoozing is happening 3 weeks or 3 months later) creates a powerful feedback loop.
    I think it’s helpful to try to think of conference design and planning in a different way, as Beverly Trayner and I are trying to do here: by thinking of an online / face-to-face / online cycle. It makes putting on a conference a move toward developing a community of practice.

  7. thank you for this post! as a board member of NYSCATE, we’ll use these tips at our next conference. the last two smaller regional conferences we ran did include podcasting several sessions and posting them online. The other suggestions are great. Actually, I first saw you speak at a technology and learning event in Palisades at that great venue that IBM has… were doing the wiki thing and the blogging there already. that was at least 18 months ago.

  8. We followed that plan pretty closely for the recent Ohio Digital Commons in Education conference. As it turned out, the conference blog saw only moderate traffic, most of it by the invited bloggers, and the wiki almost none at all. We reflected on our conbollging experience here:

    The conference presentations were made available at the main conference website:

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  13. There are lots of benefits you can get from this activity, take advantage of engaging in this activity so you will be able to learn more and expand your horizons.

  14. Engaging before during and after the confernce enhances networking, and increases the life of the conference.

    Check out more on Conference 2.0 at

    We have taken conference 2.0 to a whole new level…”Conference 2.0″ which is a product and service built around social technology wrapped around the educational conference content, enhanced by a full engagement service package.


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