Turning #crappyconf15 into #awesomeconf15

David Kernohan started it this morning.

I’ve been tuning into the #crappyconf15 hashtag off an on this morning. As I wrote about yesterday, I’m working with David Wiley on organizing the OpenEd conference in November in Vancouver. So, timely. At the same time, funny…

….more than a tad bit terrifying (ooooooooohhhhhhhh the expectations!!!!!!!!!),

….and highly educational on what details I need to pay attention to.

So, I want to take the learning one step further and ask you to flip this from #crappyconf to #awesomeconf. In your opinion, what makes a great conference great? And before you say “the people”, let’s take that as the given starting point.

Thinking of the many, many conferences you have attended, what are those things that made it stand out? Maybe it were little touches that the organizers put in place that kicked the conference up a notch for you? Was it a cool extra-curricular event? Something that made the event easier/better/smoother for you? Was it an added event before or after the main conference that made the trip worthwhile?

What do you need/want that would make OpenEd15 a worthwhile conference for you?


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.


12 thoughts on “Turning #crappyconf15 into #awesomeconf15

  1. __In Anticipation of the Tone of the Keynote, read perspectives of Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill in e-literate articles related to openness and the future of higher education – unpredictable what’s going to happen in that first hour?

    2. Production of educational resources for immediate, as created, access by conference participants, Title Slideshows for use in watching the recordings of live streaming video and audio to text transcripts.

  2. I really like extracurricular activities that are different and fun, like the jam session on the boat in 2012 that I missed b/c I was in Australia during OpenEd2012 but I just keep hearing about.

    Not feeling like you paid a ton of money but are getting little for it (I haven’t had this experience at OpenEd so should be fine).

    What was said on Twitter (can’t remember who) about women’s t-shirts. I hardly ever wear conference t-shirts b/c: (a) they are built for men and I look like I’m wearing a tent, and (b) the “medium” has morphed into what used to be xtra large and I look like I’m wearing a tent.

    Great DJ-ing by Dr. Jones 106!

    And what everyone else said above. Especially the cool art installation by Groom. I mean, not repeating that one, but the idea.

    1. Thanks, Christina. The t-shirt comment is a great example of a little detail (although the t-shirt thing is still up in the air as we consider some schwag that might prove to be a bit more practical and useful for a November conference in Vancouver) And the “Great DJ’ing by Dr. Jones” may prove to be excellent foreshadowing on your part 🙂

  3. Hi Clint,
    Seven ideas to make OpenEd15 better:
    1) Create explicit time and space for networking, i.e., more than just the standard 20 minutes during coffee break
    2) Have speaker biographies be more than just a summary of education, titles, and accomplishments. Include their hopes, fears, inspirations, influences, favourite books, and thoughtful quotations.
    3) Create a venue where folks doing research on opened can meet each other.
    4) Include a 30 minute yoga session (this is Vancouver after all)
    5) Videotape the sessions so folks can experience missed talks.
    6) Identify funding and mentorship support for open Textbook authors.
    7) Invite a singer, comedian, or some kind of entertainment. I’ve actually been to a conference that opened with Cirque du Soleil!


    1. Great suggestions, Farhad. Thanks! I wonder if we could get the premier to help organize a yoga session on the Burrard bridge? Then we could cancel it a few days before the session. Now that would be something very Vancouver…..

  4. The best conferences I’ve ever attended have been the CETIS (JISC CETIS) conferences. Somehow they hit the right spot. The had:

    * interesting, informed and opinionated speakers
    * a relaxed, informal, feel.
    * ideas and concepts that stayed with you and shaped your year ahead.
    * an admirable strike rate in discussing issues and tech that became important
    * a delightful sense of their own ridiculousness and esotericity.
    * flaky wifi
    * awful food!

    Really, good people, good content and the rest flows from just not being a dick 🙂

    1. The relaxed informal feel is something that I really like and appreciate about some of my favorite conferences as well. Here in BC we have a regional conference called ETUG that does this really well. It stems primarily from the fact that the people who come have come year after year and there is a real community feel to the conference. In some senses, this is what I hope OpenEd is like – a bunch of people who genuinely like seeing each other and hanging out with each other every year.

  5. This all starts from the a perspective that OpenEd13 was an exemplary conference experience…

    *In that conference, Jim Groom displayed a guerrilla art installation for Dr. Oblivion. It was spartan but it was brilliant. To this point, it is the only theoretical/philosophical exhibit/installation I have seen at a conference. There are maker spaces, practical testing zones, and vendor halls as far as the eye can see, but we have failed to create spaces to consider and muse on a conference, its theme and its presentations beyond the hallway, the lunch hall, the reception and the annexation of social media. Moreover, our experiences are almost always reactive to the expert sharing research rather than emergent from multiple directions.

    *Honest-to-goodness choices for those with dietary restrictions. I passed a hot dog cart in Vancouver last weekend (on the back side of the Fairmont, oddly enough) and it was dedicated to vegetarian hot dogs. Hot dog vendors can support veganism and vegetarianism, but conferences cannot beyond the salad or a submarine sandwich doused in something I have to convince myself is not mayo?

    *I like unconferences, though they are jumping the shark a bit. The reason for their popularity is to create a synthesis for the purpose or theme of the conference. Conferences today are far too libertarian, the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet of research with a few keynote protein choices. If we are supposed to learn from one another rather than just consume their presentations, providing outlets and avenues beyond a hashtag or backchannel is vital.

  6. …and apart from that, sufficient time between sessions for quick office check, bio break, travel across the venue to different classe; avoiding SRO situations where possible- i.e. adequately sized rooms so participants aren’t crammed, good AV, good wifi, quality coffee all help.

Comments are closed.