Conversations (both inside of sessions and during informal gatherings) are always a hallmark of museum conferences. But I was especially taken by the notion of the extended conversations that occurred during the recent Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Conference that took place recently in Tampa.
Some of these extended conversations were built into the ASTC Conference schedule. For instance, several all day and half-day Pre-Conference sessions took place on Friday September 23rd with session topics ranging from Evaluation Tips to Developing Exhibits on Climate Change to Citizen Science.
|Ok, they weren't all serious conversations ...|
A great pre-conference session I took part in was an "Un-Conference" where several facilitators introduced provocative topics as conversation starters and then encouraged everyone in the room to have a 20 minute organic discussion following on from there. This format really provided some interesting takeaways and was a welcome relief from the "three presenters with PowerPoints" format that many conference sessions devolve into. One thing that especially stuck with me was the notion of "Followership" (as opposed to Leadership) that Julie Johnson introduced. Julie also shared this related article by Robert Kelley on the subject.
This year the ASTC Conference also featured a number of "Extended Sessions" that occurred for two hours at the end of the day, instead of the typical 1 hour 15 minute time slots for most other sessions. The Extended Sessions I attended used their extra time to provide more full-group question and discussion time, which worked really well. Extended Session topics ranged from Teen Programming to Mentoring to Computational Tinkering.
But my favorite Extended Session was entitled "High, Low, or No Tech? Choosing Appropriate Technology for New Museum Exhibits." The presentations and audience conversations spun around nicely, and we even got into an analogy comparing the challenges of presenting high-quality programs to increasing numbers of people to cooking great scrambled eggs for large crowds! (I guess you had to be there ...)
|Here's your convenient technology analogy|
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