Genius in the Room


I’m thinking about the conversation I’ll be leading at EduCon2.2 in Philly later this month. Earlier this year, I helped to moderate a panel presentation at the National NACAC conference, and although I felt that it went well, I have since found that my thinking about presentations is changing.

One thing that struck me about the largely positive feedback we received on our NACAC session was how unconnected I felt to the individuals giving the feedback. We were in a room with over 200 attendees (in fact, some would-be attendees were turned away!). We were only able to carve out a few minutes for Q&A, because, no matter how hard you try, limiting multiple speakers to a set time limit is a doomed task. (After all, speakers are speakers in part because they like to talk!) So although there was some productive exchange, we spent the bulk of our time in a modified “sage on the stage” set up.

But the best learning situations I’ve ever been in have always had a more conversational feel. And 2008 and 2009 for me have been the years of learning that the genius is in the room. So, faced with a conference at which I’m likely to not know the people in my room, what can I do to go beyond “ice breaking” and move towards “thought revving”? EduCon’s stated preference for genuinely interactive and conversational sessions is part of what made me so excited about trying to lead a conversation there.

I’m hoping that having the folks in my room start off with a little focused sharing about what they already know and what they’re curious about will serve as a kind of rocket fuel to our conversation. I spent the better part of a half hour this morning playing around with the fantastic diagram creation tools on creately.com; I am looking forward to printing off multiple copies of a handout based on the diagram above. And I can’t wait to meet the people I’m going to be learning with later this month!

(Hattip to my friend Circe,
who encouraged me to write about
my desire to make more space
for conversations…)
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Posted on December 29, 2009, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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