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One of the main reasons I want to go to #et4online this year is the unconference (more info here). It’s also, strangely, one of the reasons not going in person might turn out OK for me, after all.
Let me backtrack a second. I think any good conference is likely to have a fantastic unconference if it’s facilitated well, and who better to facilitate an unconference than Jesse Stommel (@jessifer)?
My topmost criterion for a good conference is interesting, approachable speakers & participants who want to share and learn from each other – and an unconference gives you that chance to get up close and personal with other participants if you didn’t get a chance to do so during the conference itself. If the conference has good sessions, an unconference is an incredible opportunity to reflect with others and share some of your own practice and ideas in a supportive environment. The kind of people I know at #et4online are the “sharing” kind. You don’t find those everywhere.
I know that last year one of the things that made my (virtual) #et4online experience awesome was the informal interaction before the conference with Jim Groom and the backchannel on twitter with both people who were physically at the conference, and people who were online, whether participants in the conference or just following the hashtag on twitter. I was literally dying to participate in the unconference to keep the conversation going… but unfortunately, it didn’t work out virtually… hopefully this year we’ll make it work for virtual participants as well, and I’m working with Jesse on that.
So Jesse’s the unconference chair and he’s the perfect person for this kind of thing. No, I’ve never met him in person, but I feel as if I know him much better than a lot of people I have known for years. If the key to a successful unconference is facilitating conversation between people of similar interests, Jesse is your guy, though I bet you won’t even feel he’s doing anything. He’s a great matchmaker of professional interests (he’s the one who introduced me to the ideas of Dave Cormier and Howard Rheingold back when I didn’t know about rhizomatic learning or Net Smart – and these have changed my life); and he’s the most generous person at amplifying the voices of others and supporting them, and he’ll do that with people he’s only just met, because he’s generous and intuitive that way 🙂
I’d want to go to the unconference this year just to meet Jesse, but you’d also get to meet some of the plenary speakers (Bonnie, I think, has confirmed she’ll be there), members of the incredible steering committee (Michelle, Michael, Robin, Laura… and so many more), and so many really interesting speakers at the conference, most of whom I hope will make plans to participate. But also, you’ll get a chance to talk about what YOU want. What YOU care about. And I’m sure you’ll find others who want in on that conversation 🙂
So here’s the deal – if I can make it in person to #et4online, I’m dying to be at this unconference, and dying to meet you, and talk. And if I can’t make it, I’ll do my damndest to make sure the virtual unconference is the best ever 🙂