Innovation in Education: Why Twitter is good for Conferences

November 3, 2009 at 6:24 pm 2 comments

by Alec Patton

I said earlier that we’ve got a Twitter identity (InnovateEducate) and official hashtag (#iie09) for the Guardian Innovation in Education conference.

So why tweet at a conference? This is how I see it:

At the Innovation in Education conference, 300 creative, highly motivated people will be in one room, discussing the future of education, drawing on vast resources of knowledge and experience.

This doesn’t happen every day, so we want to get as much out of it as possible. Twitter allows us to add a new layer of discussion to the conference, and document it – but it also does something even more exciting: it allows conversations to travel down the path not taken.

Here’s what I mean by that: we’ve all had ideas and insights during conferences that we haven’t said out loud because the conversation moved on down a new path before we had a chance to. Twitter allows us to explore these hitherto-unexplored lines of enquiry: to ask more questions, to float more ideas, to document the things people say in unexpected moments of inspiration and which they could remember an hour later.

Finally, using Twitter will give us all a chance to experiment with a medium that has great potential for education, both in and out of school. Make this conference your laboratory (whether you’re attending in person, or joining in from afar on Twitter): try things out, take risks, see what happens!


Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Valerie Hannon  |  November 4, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I am intrigued by Alec’s argument on the value to be added to the conference experience by Twitter. I have up until now adopted a disdainful attitude towards the medium. 140 characters? What can be meaningfully conveyed in THAT?
    However, the recent article by Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, on the role Twitter in the Trafigura scandal impressed me deeply. This really is the embodiment of Shirky’s ‘Here Comes Everybody’.
    We have designed a great conference for 9 November – and want a lot of people to be a part of that. The challenge then becomes how to enable any form of interactivity which isn’t clunky and time consuming. Maybe Twitter can be part of this: I don’t know, but I am willing to give it a try.
    And the irony of the education community being always the last adopters of new technologies is really too painful.

  • 2. Claire McEneaney  |  November 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Having seen this in action at the conference yesterday I thought it was a fantastic tool and a great live record of what was happening, what people were thinking, as well as an opportunity for people to provide feedback to us on the event design and the ideas raised by the speakers.

    I think Twitter is a pretty time-light way to enable interactivity – though next time we might want to consider a room that isn’t in the basement so people can Tweet from their iphones. A lesson learnt for next time!


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