Thinking back, I’ve been haven’t been to many conferences in my life – however, it feels like I’ve been to more than enough. For some reason, conferences seem to happen in clusters and the longest ones always happen in spring or summer. I’ve sweat for three consecutive days in many of our big cities; eating irregularly and getting headaches from stuffy auditoriums. Sometimes, for a change, I get dehydrated when the air conditioner is on high. This tends to end in nosebleeds. Admit it, you’d like me as a conference buddy!
Conferences are weird things. During them, I feel uncomfortable and when it comes to the networking events I want to curl up and hide. But sometimes I meet people and click. In fact, some of my favourite people are people I’ve met at conference. I think conferences are a bit like call centre jobs; some people thrive, some people just get through it and the rest bond over their general awkwardness.
My favourite conference was Objectively Speaking last year (I mentioned it in a previous blog post here). It was held in the British Museum and I went to a talk/activity in the Samsung Centre. Museum learning is my main area of interest, but as you know, I do like digital technology too. It was great meeting the staff in the Samsung Centre and find out about the work they do. Unfortunately, time has erased most of the details from my mind but I left buzzing with ideas. The only thing I do remember is I wanted to set up an activity using a green screen in my local museum. The plan was to buy a green screen, and use a free app so people could stick themselves in a chamber pot! I thought this would be fun but there were financial, time and security constraints so the idea went into the dustbin. However, it was superb to see what can be achieved when museums can afford to be experimental.
Another great conference I went to was a CASE Social Media Conference. CASE stands for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. If you work in alumni relations, fundraising or a marketing team in an educational institution you may have heard of them. Most people I know who are involved with CASE are colleagues from Alumni and Development teams in universities, I haven’t met anyone in schools or colleges who know about CASE yet. I went to the last CASE Social Media Conference in Brighton. It was reassuring to meet like-minded people! As a university staff member, sometimes it would be so frustrating to see the lack of experimentation from other colleagues – there is a tradition to do things like they’ve always been done. I can understand why people take this safe approach, but it doesn’t make it any less boring. Especially when it comes to social media.
— Kate (@pritchardkate) March 22, 2013
During the blackout, University of Birmingham communicated via social media. What followed was some of the most entertaining engagement I have ever seen.
— Old Joe (@oldjoeclock) November 7, 2012
The #UoBBlackout of 2012 will go down in history.
— Sam (@Sam_Burrell) November 7, 2012
Been asked to not to use power unless absolutely necessary. Well I think boiling the kettle is essential! #uobblackout
— Kate Wright (@Wrightgal80) November 8, 2012
— other pete (@other_pete) November 14, 2012
Easing the #UoBblackout frustration with a themed-playlist starting with Electric Six – Danger! High Voltage. Prize for the best suggestion!
— Uni of Birmingham (@unibirmingham) November 14, 2012
— moseleysanta (@moseleysanta) November 14, 2012
The think the #UoBblackout made my tutorial quite intimate. Felt like I should've lit some candles and put some jazz on. I restrained.
— Sarah Peek (@ItsWilliams) November 14, 2012
— Robot J. McCarthy (@RedScareBot) November 14, 2012
I enjoyed the CASE Social Media Conference. It’s really fun talking about social media and student engagement. It’s also reassuring to find out that we have the same issues; how do we engage with students when there is so much noise online? Also, how can we have meaningful engagement?