Conferences are changing. Instead of an event lasting a few days, more and more organizers are extending the conference experience through blogs, wikis, podcasts, interviews, etc both in advance of an following a conference. Conferences are becoming more of a relationship with a trusted source, and less of a casual encounter.
A few examples:
ODCE offered both blogs and wikis for members to connect prior to the event (and following).
For ONLINE EDUCA in Berlin in December 2006, podcasts, wikis, interviews, and video were used in advance of, and following, the conference.
Elliott Masie uses interviews, wikis, SecondLife, podcasts, and video to increase conference attendee’s ability to connect with leaders and each other.
MoodleMoot 2007 blended face-to-face with the online conference – offering participants unable to travel a conference experience. With our upcoming online conference – Future of Education, we offer a similar experience for participants…but the blended feel of f2f and online adds an additional experience.
All of this is simply to say that conferences are changing…and organizers are starting to understand that conference attendance is a relational experience. Instead of simply planning to host an event, it’s important to create opportunities for networks to form in advance and following the conference. If anything, a well done conference has the potential to offer a year-round relationship.