In reading some of the fantastic posts coming out of the recent conferences in Barcelona (see Scott Leslie's work of art or Jon Beasley-Murray's, or Brian Lamb's recap or the rest of the planet's stuff here and here ), I was struck by how much more impact the "non-educational" Drumbeat conference seems to have had, in comparison to the "educational" Open Education conference. Maybe it's just that the people I follow are strongly in The Choir, so the OpenEd conference isn't as revelatory for them, but it seems as though the more generally hackerish and cultural-focused Drumbeat conference caused more of a stir in thinking.

This is not a sleight against OpenEd, which by all accounts was a fantastic experience. It's just that Drumbeat appears to have caused more of a profound, cultural(?) effect. I'm just interpreting based on the ephemeral tweets and more-rare blog posts posted by people who were lucky enough to be in Barcelona.

I've noticed a similar thing in conferences I've gone to. The "education" conferences had some interesting sessions, and provided a chance to meet some interesting people, but the "non-educational" conferences seem to really push me out of my comfort zone, and to more radically alter how I think about things (including, or especially, education).

It's one of the reasons I love Northern Voice so much. It's not an "education" conference. It's a social/communication/sharing/culture conference, with an educational aspect. It's the mix of people from various fields and walks of life, most of whom would never in a million years find themselves in an "education" conference, that makes it such a fascinating and compelling experience. One that has caused me to think (and rethink) each year I've gone.

So, while there's still a chance I may be forced to attend an "education" conference for work, I don't think I'll be asking to go to any. I'm going to try to focus on the "non-education" events as much as possible (which, frankly, isn't very often, given budgetary constraints on campus...)