The Problems With Choice!

I can recall reading evaluation forms for IWMW events several years ago and seeing people saying how much they valued the event but wishing that they could attend more of the parallel sessions as there was useful content in these sessions; participants could only attend two (or, in some years, three) of the parallel session out of a total of around 20 on offer.

Maybe we should invent a time machine!” I thought on reading such remarks. How can we be expected to provide participants with a variety of sessions to choose and then respond to comments that the participants want to learn from many more of the sessions on offer?

Well, we’ve now done it. Not (quite) by inventing a time machine, but by ensuring that a variety of resources associated with the various parallel sessions is available.

Access to Resources From the Parallel Sessions

At the recent IWMW 2010 event we encouraged the facilitators of the parallel sessions to make their slides available on Slideshare. We have provided summaries of a number of the parallel sessions which have been published on the IWMW 2010 blog and have also published brief video interviews with a number of the workshop facilitators.

Links to the resources are provided from the individual pages providing abstracts for the parallel workshop sessions. For example Joanna Blackburn’s session of “Follow us on Twitter’…’Join our Facebook group” contains a link to her video interview; the session on “Usability and User Experience on a Shoestring” facilitated by Stuart Church contains a summary of the session written by Linda Bewley.

We have also published a page on the IWMW 2010 Web site containing links to the key resources related to the sessions and talks at the event. This page also provides a Slideshare pack widget which provides access to all of the slides presented at the event which we have access to.

Amplified Events and the ‘Big Society’

What I am describing is another aspect of the amplification of the IWMW 2010 event. This time we are amplifying the resources used in parallel sessions across time as well as distance, so that participants have access to resources used at sessions they were no able to attend.

Of course we are still in the early stages of using technologies to maximise learning and staff development at such events and I am very much aware of the limitations of simply providing access to slides and other related resources. It is possible to listen in to the discussions on the Twitter back channels which are available on the #IWMW10 Twapper Keeper archive, especially if participants used the appropriate session tag. And the summaries of the sessions and the brief interviews with a number of the workshop facilitators can be beneficial in providing others with a better understanding of the topics discussed in the sessions.

But should we looking to stream and subsequently make available for download the presentations made at future IWMW? And rather than expecting the event organisers to add this of the list of things to do might we encourage participants to take part in the ‘Big Society’ of Web managers, videoing the talks themselves and uploading videos to video sharing services?

Or to put it another way should we expect, if not require, participants at events to take greater responsibility for sharing the learning across the community?  And if this can be regarded as an application of the Government’s Big Society idea then maybe we should be doing it in order to demonstrate a commitment to making the best use of tax-payers money.