I remember the days before social media. Yes, I am that old.
Back in the day, networking and CPD mostly meant attending an evening or breakfast event, with people who lived not too far away from the venue. Tea and coffee on arrival (a bacon buttie if you were lucky), and then a presentation, an update, a case study. A space for some Q&A, and then a little mingling. There are still plenty of these such events, and very good some of them are too.
But they can be limited and limiting. Fixed timings, geographical constraints, speaker and slide driven. If we apply the 70:20:10 model, this sort of event is firmly in the 10%. Social media has changed how we connect and how we learn. It has changed events conferences too. Conferences have the same elements of those traditional methods of imparting learning and information, following the model we know from schools and universities. Someone, with a particular knowledge or skill set, stands at the front of the room holding the authority. They share what they know or what they have done. They are often described as the ‘sage on the stage’.
This is problematic in a number of ways. Setting aside issues such as access, we know this isn’t really how we learn – and nor do we have to. Technology and digital communication have changed the game. It’s said that the sage on the stage is giving way to the ‘guide on the side’. In a classroom environment this is a facilitation style where the guide helps students or delegates discover knowledge, signposts and supports exploration and discussion, steering people to content. Encouraging independent thought and analysis.
When it comes to conferences and events, this is a role often fulfilled by a blog squad. A team of guides on the side, commenting, sharing, provoking, signposting. Generating discussion outside of the formal structures. Creating the back channel, an alternative space for learning. Not constrained by geography. Few barriers to entry. Helping others to learn as we learn in life – on the move, on our devices, in the 70%.
This week, I’ll be a guide on the side for the CIPD annual conference and event. The hashtag is #CIPDACE. I’ll be joined in creating and curating by a lovely lot of tweeters and bloggers. Let’s get together in this virtual place and share. See you there?