ACEC 2012

Here’s what the organisers need to do for 2012 ACEC wherever it will be held.

Five things not to do.

  1. Don’t assume that importing international speakers at a cost will actually be better than locals. I find that a brain-missing idea.
  2. Don’t worry if LESS people come because of it – this is not a ‘show’ or an ‘event’ it is real life, deal with local issues and solutions.
  3. Don’t charge presenters to present. Make it free and even pay some of the cost.
  4. Don’t allow anyone to present messages of blood, sweat, tears and dark cloud messages (we know what the problem is).
  5. Don’t assume that Steve Collis will stream all your sessions for you.

Five things to do

  1. Ensure that you have official in-world options and stop thinking of it as niche – the evidence says that view is just ignorant these days. Once again @jokay saved the day – for FREE.
  2. Use in-world and online-relays/webinars for back-channels – supported by people to HELP newcomers with technical issues (pay people who can do it for you if you can’t)
  3. Invite the Minister of Education to the keynote sessions and publish their response. There should be some minion from government invited to EVERY session – after all it’s their education system not ours.
  4. Automate and archive the recording of sessions so those who can’t afford the cost/time can still benefit
  5. Consider an un-confernence day for the ‘experts’ who have heard about blogs and wikis a million times

(some of this online can of course be funded by the money you are not spending on International flights and expenses).

To me, the conference missed a real opportunity to take sessions virtual – and engage more teachers in the dialogue. The Tweet Stream was the same old faces (love ’em all).


13 thoughts on “ACEC 2012

  1. HI Dean,

    Good post I have been coming to similar conclusions following via Twitter from Sydney. Went to Singapore in March and saw and heard some of the same international speakers.

    Spot on about he dark messages – it is getting to this point in school level PD – yes need some ideas on how to do things but not just statements like “speak louder” or “it is simple get involved”.

    cheers Martin

  2. Solutions Solutions Solutions and possibilities need only apply. I’m well over same old same old dark clouds too. That’s a list worth compiling for activism moving forward.

    Yes who does exactly “own” the education systems?

    Well, we will quickly take responsibility when its all sweet,or throwing out bulk ICT money.
    But failing schools or grades? thats their fault. Bash them up.

    Strip education down. Get back to what the 30 to 40 hours a week for 13 years is for. Resistence by those who have been there, including successful parents, policy makers & politicians, is an inertia to overcome.

    Acec2012 could be a far more purposeful learning voice, if we want it to be, especially with the improvements suggested.

  3. Noted!

    I’ve always liked the idea of giving people who are willing to help others out with “tech stuff” (the twitterarti for example) in a pseudo-official capacity (e.g. they’re wearing identifying badges/lanyards) a discount on registration in return for their help (say the same fee as a student).

    But, but, but, I like the international speakers. It’s nice having a mix of both. And in return, it’s nice when ACEC members are invited overseas to present. But as many twitterarti noted, it’d be even nicer to have “conversation space” after these sessions that are more than just morning tea.

    And does an un-conference day need to be a day? Or can it just be say… dinner? 😉

    You’re right about hearing about blogs and wikis a gazillion times. Start poking people to present at ACEC2012 that you know are doing more than that, please! What are you going to present on? 😉

    Maybe we need to think about having “late bird sessions” or even a PechaKucha which don’t require an abstract to be sent in so far in advance…

  4. Great post Dean!! I didn’t go but followed via streams etc. Your points are really valid. It would have great to some more real innovation relating to technology for learning.
    Far too many whose vision seems to be sadly lagging.

  5. Absolutely agree with your post, except the point Jan made about international speakers.

    I followed #ACEC2010 by Twitter and U Stream but didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know through my PLN and my own school PD sessions (I work with @Steve_Collis and @cwoldhuis).

    Instead of lecture centred conferences I’d like to have more Twitter-style PLNs within school areas, across the public/private divide that involved the thoughts of all teachers, not just the extremely tech-literate ones. I’d like to see this occur to break down what the BOS (or equivalent) has dictated and work out amazing practical ways to teach it…together. In my subject areas (Economics, Business Studies, Commerce, Society & Culture) too often single teachers are left alone to develop curriculum on their own and they generally do a great job, but wouldn’t it be better if we shared best teaching practices.

    Yes, our system isn’t perfect, and many people are in the ear of the government about it, but until changes occur let’s best work with the system we have instead of bemoaning it all the time without solutions. Small groups can overcome obstacles together.

    Big conferences work to inspire those who aren’t already in the choir but mostly those that go already are. Let’s work more at the grassroots level.


  6. Dean,

    You have some excellent points. But this feels like a slap in the face. As one of many who just put in a huge amount of effort to bring this event to life it’s incredibly disappointing to read this kind of back handed criticism of acec2010 just as I’m putting my feet up after running around all week attending to details.

    I feel I do have a right to reply. But I’m not speaking for the whole team here, and this is by no means an ‘official’ response – it’s just my response. Take it or leave it.

    1. International v local – this is one of those issues where you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I agree we have more than enough local talent and stories to keynote events like these. But it’s also a national event, and many people appreciate the opportunity to hear from and meet International presenters. I believe we have lots of local events where we can showcase local talent, and we’re lucky enough to have them in our communities willing to step up and share their wisdom with us. But an event like ACEC2010 is an opportunity to broaden the pool. Also keep in mind, the last time this event was in Melbourne was 10 years ago, so for those who don’t get to travel to conferences overseas or interstate, bringing those people here can be very valuable to them.

    Dean, you weren’t at ACEC2010. I recall you deciding it wasn’t worth it. So you have no direct knowledge of the face to face experience we worked hard to create. There are still many people for whom that’s important. Some of those people feel lucky to attend a conference like this ‘once a year’ let alone once a decade.

    2. Steve Collis streaming…. used a lot of bandwidth. As a member of the tech team we discussed filming every session, and streaming every session. Yeah, that would have been great! But we couldn’t afford the dollars or human effort to make it happen. As it was, providing free internet access to everyone was a huge expense, and we had to buy more bandwidth on day 4. It’s probably not appropriate for me to put the actual $$$ out there, but trust me when I say I was shocked.

    3. We called for unconference participation, and got one response during the call for papers, and one “last minute” response shortly before the conference, which we accommodated. I’m a huge fan of barcamp / unconf / miniconf events… and yes, it would be good to have more time and space for such things at ACEC. But there’s a lot to squeeze in. This event also gives teacher educators a platform to have their research published. Unfortunately that process is the exact opposite to unconferencing. We need both. I think ACEC is a great see-saw for balancing academic needs with those of practitioners telling stories, sharing experience.

    4. In world / virtual / backchannel … Yes, that would be great. Again, time, resources, and other things needing focus and energy mean it’s just not possible please all of the people all of the time… The fact Bron stood up to hold a BOF, and that Lindy and Randy ‘beamed’ in their sessions was awesome. Yeah sure, more effort and attention could have been paid to this… as it was, I couldn’t even attend to the twitter stream during the conference – I was too busy.

    But it’s easy to shoot from the sidelines, isn’t it Dean? We have had some amazingly positive feedback so I know that many people enjoyed the event. We’ve also had some great constructive criticism which we can learn from and use for future events, and pass on to the creators of ACEC2012. We’ve also had people step up to make stuff happen which we’d run out of time, energy or budget to achieve. Thank you to all who helped make it real, participated and learnt from the event.

    5. Ministers (state and federal) are always invited to these things. They can’t be at everything. Gillard was at ACEC2008, the Vic Minister for ICT opened this event. Department people from many jurisdictions, states, catholic and independent associations were present and involved (some even volunteering).

    I could go on. But I’ve still got conference work to do.

    • Thanks for the reply.

      I don’t actually see virtual as being a sideline, nor do I make suggestions in a shooting mode.

      There is a tremendous need to engage newcomers in these discourses and to seek ways to place virtual on par with physical to do it. If it wasn’t for Steve’s continual efforts during the conference and archiving of keynotes and sessions, many in K12 – especially public school – would have no access to the amazing information and passion shared. This to me is a capstone of education online. You only have to see how well Steve and Jane use Elluminate in Classroom2.0 or Sheryl uses it in Powerful Learning Network do this. For virtual-worlds the way VWBPE used Treet.TV to capture Second Life last month – and prepared venues for international speakers and guests – both academics interested in research and teachers showing projects and stories.

      This is the point of being connected, especially in a country where distance is one of our greatest challenges. It is fundamental that virtualising sessions is as important as putting chairs in rows in my view – if you want to attract more people to the state bodies.

      Having run events professionally, I fully appreciate the work, effort and dedication required – and certainly not questioning anyone’s efforts in this regard. I never said ACEC wasnt worth attending, what I don’t think worked is those that are giving up time (as presenters) are charged full price to present.

      I have not at all suggested that any of the sessions are not worthwhile, and celebrate all their achievements. Im not commenting on the balance of the workshops, discussions, social or workshops.

      I don’t sit and snipe, quite the opposite, and indeed have been participating with CSTA in NSW and ISTE in the US. It is not about how hard people work – it is above MOVEMENT. It should not matter where the good-oil is shared, it is about how we move from session to session in real and virtual space.

      As to unconference – ISTE sees about 20,000 people in the main conference. Classroom2.0’s Unconference sees (as Gary Stager suggested) about 500. The reason that they can do that is the size of Classroom2.0 itself, the expectation that all of it is going to be online, and that it gives newcomers and experts the chance to engage away from the busy conference schedule itself. The ISTE unconference is therefore binding an already tight community. I can appreciate that ACCE doesn’t have that (yet).

      We are all busy working on the same thing – improving outcomes for students. I do could and will go on, and more than happy to continue assisting ACCE.

      • Asking presenters to pay to attend varies from conference to conference in my experience. has a travel budget for speakers, tries to give out of town speakers free conference accommodation, a special speakers dinner, a gift, and free conference entry. But they don’t get paid.

        Many academic conferences charge everyone to attend, including speakers. Speakers may get a discount at some. Other conferences charge thousands of dollars to attendees, but pay all their speakers to present. ACEC aimed to charge everyone the same amount. It’s all about the model. I can’t comment on that for ACEC2010 – as it’s a policy/budget decision.

        The other question here is this. Should ACEC2012 abandon some of its existing focus on being a face to face event to embrace virtual / distance / elearning / online delivery adequately? Or would it be better for ACCE and state affiliates to engage in events already excelling at providing rich on-line learning events?

        I reject your criticism that acec2010 was a missed opportunity to take the conference into a virtual realm. As far as I’m aware It was never a key goal for this conference. The fact that attendees and presenters had an opportunity to do so was a fantastic bonus, and I am deeply greatful for their effort, dedication and contribution.

        Debate about this may hopefully get people thinking, but I don’t think the face to face experience should suffer to accommodate the online experience. And I’ve seen that happen at other events. The technology set up to facilitate and engage online contributors completely alienated the people in the room. Some of whom reported feeling like 2nd class citizens.

        Your suggestions are all good points, and good food for thought, which should indeed be considered by acec2012.

        I just think your criticism was poorly timed, and badly aimed. And yes, this is a defensive response, because whilst your post is framed as constructive suggestions for a future event, in reality your timing means the comments read as criticism of the event just concluded.

      • And here in lies the massive point of difference; you reject virtual realms as significant and see them as a bonus – a trip to the seaside maybe.

        There are many who regularly give online presentations – it’s not a goal, it’s a norm. Online, virtual is REAL as it is FACE to FACE – else why would any of us ever move beyond the desktop isolation.

      • No – I don’t reject virtual realms at all. Friends of mine built the Rod Laver Arena in 2L for Tennis Australia a couple of years ago. It was awesome helping them test it out by playing tennis in a yellow ball gown. I met my husband on a telnet BBS last century. Built a room of my own in a mud. Used IRC, ICQ, jabber, google talk, anyzing, elluminate, dim dim, etherpad, google docs etc… to collaborate online… It’s all great. Especially the open source/open protocols.

        I also happen to strongly believe that filming a theatre production is a great way to record the event, but generally fails to truly capture the experience of being an audience member or performer. I’m also a kinaesthetic learner, so yes, this is my bias.

        It’s unreasonable to expect ACEC2010 to have been an online conference. It wasn’t. It never aimed to be an online conference. Dismissing the event because it failed to live up to your expectations seems a bit like someone complaining that the free live jazz festival broadcast they’d been listening to on the radio should have featured more ambient electronica.

        And yeah – I’m aware people give presentations online all the time. I’m also aware that online communication is just as REAL as face to face… please don’t patronise me.

        I’m pleased we had a bunch of people grab an ipod, start a twitter account and contribute for the first time. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the event, I’m sorry we didn’t cater to your needs. I’m sure the 2012 team in Perth will read your suggestions with interest.

        But as a member of the 2010 team I feel as though you’ve trivialised our efforts. I remember your first tweet to the acec2010 account, testing to see if I was a bot. I remember you questioning whether the event was going to be worth attending, asking who else was going, claiming there was no gaming or virtual worlds content… So, forgive me if I missed your more general positive enthusiasm.

        Over and Out.

      • I concede the field, I believe online delivery, archive, access and interaction is integral to operations of Australia’s peak body. If they don’t see it as a goal, then there is little more to be said.

  7. ACEC2010 rocked with the opportunities to meet friends met online f2f at last as well as to catch up with many others that we have connected with in the past. Overall it was a highly professional, sleekly run conference, which certainly had a buzz associated with it right till the end. BUT the amount of grumbling about the number of international presenters (at great cost) should not be ignored. Shed some of those international presenters and give attendees an itouch! Better value? definitely! The black Stager message was a complete contrast to the amazing creative and thought provoking keynote by Adam Elliot. Actually, Chris Betcher handed out the same message as Gary Stager but more effectively (i.e. minus the doom and ‘you all suck’ message – and he didn’t load his presentation with examples that almost looked out of the ark when measured in digital years.

    I was excited at the possibility of the conference, shocked at the personal cost to me, disappointed that there was not even a reduction in the registration cost to present, but very glad that I turned up – at least for some of the time. Yes, we killed the bandwith by our virtual worlds session…that incidentally simply could not stop as people stayed around learning. My session was pretty messed up – the audio didn’t work despite the efforts of a technician. It turns out that my session was not the first to have that problem in that room. Oh well, technical hassles are inevitable.

    I think ACEC2012 could build well on the work of the Melbourne team and by then should be ready to do more than just accommodate the tech crowd in schools – there was a significant lack of people from leadership roles in schools. THAT is a significant issue to address for the 2012 planners – a direct contrast to ACEL2010 in September which will be packed with people who WILL make a difference in their schools. Now a blend of both would be perfect. What about it ACEC2012?

    • ACEC2012 – such a long way away – who knows where we’ll be and who will be kicking amazing stuff. First real post-national curriculum gathering. My eldest will be just about hitting high school … and DER will have had a full roll out. 2 years used to seem like a short time. I can’t imagine what shape technology will take by then. But hopefully, I’ll be doing something, somewhere with my uber PLN.

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