RootsTech ~ It Says 'Do'
Sometimes the Best Stuff is the Stuff You Don't Plan
I had a FAN-tabulous time at RootsTech this year. As I mentioned before, what I did do wasn't what I'd thought I'd be doing.
It was WAY better! Thanks to FamilySearch, I was able to interview a whole slew of genie people. It was an incredible opportunity for me and many, many thanks go to FamilySearch and Paul Nauta for allowing me access to such fascinating people.
Like I mentioned previously, I only attended 1 full session and I attempted 2 others. When I was planning out the sessions to attend prior to RootsTech, I noticed that there weren't many sessions on the User side that interested me due to their level of content. I had picked out some Developer classes to attend, but was lured away from my schedule with interviews, and I gladly went. Hello!?! Interviewed Chris van der Kuyl, the CEO of brightsolid AND Nick Barratt from the Family History Show. Trust me, it was no sacrifice. [And don't tell me you wouldn't have done the same. ;) ]
So, I can't tell you my experiences from sessions because I only went to one, which happened to be about Gamification and Family History ~ a developer session presented by, um, Chris van der Kuyl. I promise I wasn't stalking him. I've a legitimate interest in gamification. Can't you see the 48 Hour Ephemera Challenge Forum gamified? I can, but I digress...
Several of my fellow geneabloggers [Linda & Jenna] expressed that they wished that there had been more technology in the exhibit hall. I agree. Jenna mentioned that there was a bunch of software but no gadgets to play with. Totally agree with her on that one. Personally, I can look and play with software and databases online. A majority of them offer free trials online where I can try them out in the comfort of my home, not in a loud exhibit hall with a busy exhibitor. It would have been nice to play with some tech gadgets. Take them on a test run. FlipPal was there and people were playing [and buying] FlipPals.
What I Think Would Be Cool For Next Year
I have a confession to make. I used to teach Children's Church at our old church. And I found it tough to teach my own kids, especially my son. You see, my son is a "doer learner". He doesn't learn well if he's just sitting there doing nothing. His hands need to be busy. He prefers to move around. And he doesn't usually make eye contact. All sure signs that he's not paying attention, right?
It was exasperating as a mother and a teacher. I felt like a failure because I couldn't even control my own kid. Finally, one Sunday he'd been extra busy in the room. So, I decided to ask him a question or two just to make my point that he needed to sit down, be still, and just listen. And when I asked him the first question, he answered my question beautifully, and, in fact, verbatim. Then I asked the second question. This time something that required his opinion. And what came out of his mouth was remarkably insightful for an elementary kid.
That's when I learned that I needed to sit down, be still, and just listen.
I needed to let him move around. To keep his hands busy. To learn on his terms. To just do.
And what does this have to with RootsTech? Well, in my experience with technology and computers, I've found the best way to learn it, is to jump right in and do. That is, to learn by doing.
I know the workshops were a hit this year because they sold out so quickly, which signaled something for me.
So much so that I'd like to propose something, if I may. I'd like to see more workshops than lectures at RootsTech. More hands on stuff in the exhibit hall but also in the sessions. I don't learn much when I'm sitting there in a too hot/too cold overcrowded/standing-room-only classroom-like room with a speaker up front with a carefully laid out Power Point presentation.
Further, I'd like to see workshops on all levels ~ beginner, intermediate, and advanced ~ teaching us all something by doing. To have moderators & teachers guiding us, not lecturing or presenting. It's really not what they know about the subject. Nope. It's what they can show me how to do.
After all, people don't fork over gobs of money and time to to be talked to. They go to learn. And in this case, they go to learn how technology can help them research and share their genealogy.
Let me repeat that. They go to learn how technology can help them research and share their genealogy.
What part of that statement says 'sit down, be still, and just listen'?
None of it.
It says 'do'.
2/17/2012 12:23:06 pm
The type of workshops you're describing require lots of equipment. Renting that equipment will drive up the cost of RootsTech dramatically.
2/17/2012 01:30:46 pm
Thanks for your viewpoint. Those of us who learn by doing could probably learn at home and leave the presentations as they are for those who learn better in a classroom setting. It was just a thought based on the feedback of some intermediate to advanced conference goers.
2/18/2012 02:57:09 am
The workshops could be a sponsored event, which would help in keeping the cost manageable. Another option is the workshops could require an additional fee of $10-$15. I attend conferences professionally that hold the workshops the day before the conference opens and they require an additional fee.
2/17/2012 02:00:12 pm
Some of the sessions said "bring your computer". The only issue there is lugging around your computer (tablets are far lighter), but at least it was an attempt to be more hands-on.
2/17/2012 02:09:26 pm
Thanks, Banai! I just think that the conferences - all of them - are gonna need to come up with something outside the box to make it worth people's while and money. And I'm talking for the advanced hobbyist.
2/18/2012 03:07:30 am
I think it's very reasonable to request the workshop participants bring their own laptop. The session could have a fixed number of work stations available just in case someone doesn't own a laptop.
2/17/2012 03:13:55 pm
Caroline, I really appreciated this. I saw all the ads about this conference, and thought it'd be really nice to go, but I want hands on opportunities, like you mentioned. And in a group setting, it's a great opportunity to learn from others' experiences and hot finds.
2/18/2012 12:16:22 am
2/18/2012 04:08:57 am
And my final comment...maybe...are the speakers submitting advanced level presentations? I think it's possible the presentations they are submitting are beginner to intermediate level in order to appeal to a wider audience. I mean what presenter doesn't want to say their session was standing room only??
2/18/2012 04:24:40 am
I think those are wonderful ideas, Jenna! Definitely thinking outside the box.
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