Quick background: @sturgey is our Deputy Head of Comms (but with lots of corporate/internal comms added in there too) – she’s admittedly old school but very enthusiastic about new school comms and a really big support in our push in that direction.
So I sat down with Andrea about something else entirely but we got to talking about unconferences and traditional conferences, about L G Comms but also about #localgovcamp. And we’ve sort of come to a conclusion which I think is quite important, at least to me, in coming to a place where the two can meet.
It reflects our digital and communication policy, which is, use every channel which is appropriate and which you are trained in and comfortable with and which you think is valid and there is someone on the end of. Don’t exclude anyone by only using one channel if possible, share your learning and flag any risks, if there are any. (heck, I think I just distilled a strategy into a paragraph, go me!)
Why should learning be any different? What’s the different between traditional conference and unconference? Is it that the opportunity for discussion is moved (trad conf = discussion in form of Q & A after, unconf = before, during, after, in the corridor and at lunch)? Is it that the attendees dress differently (trad conf = formal, unconf = t-shirts & jeans)?
Whilst I agree with John who commented on my last post that the problem with old networks is the same old learning circulating, I would also like to propose that unless it gets new blood the unconference circuit is in danger of sharing the same old learning too. Therefore what is needed is a band of people like Nick Booth and Nick Hall who attend both and cross pollenate. But everyone else, I strongly believe, should be allowed to make an informed decision about the kind of learning style which they feel most comfortable with and should be respected no matter what decision they made.
However as all the commentators on my last post I think will agree – the fundamental issue here is lack of ability to make an informed decision because of the traditional being entrenched and the modern being misunderstood.
Solve that, and I think we can start to see some progress here.