Our Classroom 2.0 social network has over 1,100 members now. About 100 new sign-ups per week, and lots of good conversations. Not sure what it all means, but it does demonstrate some real interest by some percentage of educators in the use of technology and Web 2.0 tools in the classroom.

Last year I attended the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco (we set up the press room with our LiveKiosk computers). At the time, I blogged about the absence of an education track, since it seemed to me that the technology would have great application for education, and a huge number of the creators of Web 2.0 applications were in attendance.

Well, when the plans for the 2007 Office 2.0 conference were recently announced (September 5-7), I pinged conference organizer Ishmael Ghalini and asked if they had thought about an education track this year. He said, let's do it, and then asked me if I would organize it.

So, time for some questions.

The Office 2.0 conference is not inexpensive ($1,495, early bird of $995), and it's held at a pretty posh hotel (St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco, CA). The education track might only have to be one day.

Question 1:
Is "Classroom 2.0" ready for a conference, or a track at a conference?

Question 2: If we are ready, do we want a formal conference like this, or something less formal like an "unconference?" (See our upcoming EduBloggerCon 2007 for an example.)

Question 3: What should it cost to come to a Classroom 2.0 conference?

Question 4: If we decided to go with a formal conference, who would you want to hear from? Web 2.0 creators? Teachers? Educational "talking heads?"

Question 5: How valuable would it be to have the Web 2.0 program creators at a Classroom 2.0 conference or conference track?

Question 6: Should a "Classroom 2.0" conference or conference track be for administrators, educators, or both?

Question 7: I have also liked the idea of doing some regional Classroom 2.0 conferences, with lots of teacher-led content. Does that strike anyone as a better model?

One of the things that was so fun about the Office 2.0 conference last year was hearing from the creators of programs as they each quickly presented what their program can do. And that was nicely balanced by panel discussions about the value of Web 2.0 technologies in the office or enterprise. Seems like whatever we do, we'd want to have a large hands-on component, but the more "philosophical" discussions would really be interesting as well--how can/will education change because of the new collaborative tools of the Web, for example.

So, feedback please!

Tags: 2.0, office

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Skip:

Thanks for the good comments. You've identified the inherent pull between the ideas of "Classroom 2.0" (classroom use of these good tools) and "School 2.0" (redefining education, in part, because of these tools and the ideas they provoke).

I'm not sure that that piggy-backing off another conference is such a bad idea--and this particular conference has the advantage of getting the creators of the Web 2.0 tools actively involved with educators... which I really think we need to do. And Office 2.0 is a pretty big deal, and the level of folks from outside of education will be very high, and good people to get involved in the discussion.

But more in my comments back to Barbara below...
Steve My first thought was cool...but after some reflection I am not sure if we need another conference. There is a lot of tech conferences already...certainly more than I can attend and then there is k12online and other similar online offerings. In many ways I see NECC as a Classroom 2.0 conference.
So, I'm somewhat in agreement. But NECC is not as devoted to Web 2.0 or as hands-on as I am thinking of. I have a lot of respect for NECC, and I think they would entertain any good ideas, but 1) I don't think they will draw either the Web 2.0 creators like Office 2.0, 2) I don't think they will draw the prominent thinkers from outside of education, and 3) they can't afford to focus solely on Web 2.0 tools.

I am leaning toward doing the educational track at Office 2.0, accepting it for what it is and the value it would bring, and then doing regional workshops more like the Google Academies but more frequent and inclusive.
Are there the numbers for an in-person conference, even a small one? While there's about 1000 people in this group, only some are actively involved. I would think that the more active you are using tools such as Ning, the more likely it is you'd show up at a conference where you work with or disucss these tools.

Of the thousand or so people in this group, only part of them (75%) live in the USA. Only a relatively small number of those live within a reasonable commute of wherever you'll have the conference.

I know there are Web 2.0 types not in this group, but even so I suspect you wouldn't yet have the numbers for a conference of any size. I'm not happy about that, but that's my guess.
On the Office 2.0 piggyback idea: It's very tough when you have mixed groups like this (as Skip and others have said). But I think it's more than just edu vs. corporate. Office 2.0 is aimed at tool developers, our Classroom 2.0-ers are mostly practitioners.

My suggestion would be to offer them a track aimed not at us, but at their core audience of tool developers. Your job would then be to find a few people to talk to these developers about the needs and business of K-20 education. I think that would be an attractive offer for them. Every one of them knows Google has gone after this market in a big way, but very few of them would understand an educator perspective or how products get adopted and used in schools.

This would be something like what MacWorld does by having an ed track - it's for their core audience, but brings in educational viewpoints.

Local educators and vendors like you (and me, said modestly) could involve the whole Classroom 2.0 community by collaborating with the group on any sessions and presentations so we show up there with a real web 2.0-like feel to what we say.

Does this make sense?

On the "what would a classroom 2.0 conference look like" - I'm thinking your #7 is a better bet, smaller, localized meetings, something like the Google teacher academies.
Interestingly enough, I don't think their conference is solely aimed at tool developers. There was a good mix of media, consultants, corporations, and creators. But I think you are right--it might be better to bring attention to education in that environment, rather than to try to bring educators to the event. The cost is prohibitive for most educators, and there really isn't any funding to bring speakers, so it may depend on those of us who live close enough to come and speak.

You've given me a good vision of how this might be productive but not our main focus. Thanks.

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