My various rants on my frustration with many conferences has led to something. Who knew?

Spaces of Interaction: An Online Conversation on Improving Traditional Conferences is a free, two-day online conversation this week, Feb 18-20. 


Throughout the two days, you can tune in and listen to folks like Jay Cross talk about "The Tyranny of Powerpoint" or Teemu Arina talk about "Using Social Media  to Run Better Events."You can view a nifty Flash presentation on why we need this virtual conversation or just visit the Conference community site

I'll be participating on Friday afternoon (4 pm EST) on a panel with Tony Karrer called Engagement: Improving conferences through increased
. While it focuses on education, I think that the conversations at this complete event would benefit any conference organizer or attendee that wants to improve their conference experience.

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences |

Questioning Conference Tools

19 November 2008

I moderated an unconference this year at the Wine Bloggers Conference.  I rapidly followed that up with speaking at DevLearn, so I couldn’t make it to Elliot Masie’s Learning 2008 for the first time since the event started. Truly, the Wine Bloggers Conference was probably more fun, as far as that goes, but I still missed a lot of things about the Masie event.

I think I’ve compared and contrasted  these conferences before, but with a new ASTD technology for the upcoming TechKnowledge, I wanted to do it again.

I enjoy ASTD TechKnowledge, and every year it gets just a tiny bit more technical, which makes me happy. In the past, there was no real way to communicate with the speakers, beyond recording their email address at a session. Well, ASTD has now implemented their Speaker Feedback System. You enter the speaker’s first name, last name, and session number. You can then fill out the form and it sends an email to the speaker.

Now, more often than not, I’m a speaker at these events. I already have an inbox of 431 work related emails, not to mention my other email accounts. I am not overly thrilled that this is the tact that ASTD has taken. Sure, it opens up a dialogue with the speaker, which is more than we had before, but email does not open up that big of a dialogue. It’s one on one and does not include group discussion.

This brings me to Masie’s conferences. For every conference, Masie offers a Wiki. Each session has a wiki page, complete with speaker bio and session information. You don’t need to have knowledge of the speaker’s name or session number. You can search on what you’re interested in.

At Learning 2007, I spoke on Blogs. Had you searched the conference wiki for blogs, I would have popped up. It was topic-based search, which is amazingly useful. Not only that, but conversations about the topic could start on the wiki (anyone could participate) before the conference started and continue after the conference ended. As opposed to using handouts, I put all of my resources – most of which were hyperlinks – on the wiki. Folks thought this was brilliant. It’s so much easier to click than to type out a long, nonsensical hyperlink. And because it was a wiki, anyone and everyone could contribute to group discussion beforehand.

Alternatively (and just as easily), ASTD could build a community group on Ning where each session has its own discussion group. Again, this site could be chock full of information and build itself on group input and collaboration. Not only would this help the speakers with their presentations and audience, it would help the attendees by generating useful discussion.

ASTD already requires that speakers create tree-killing handouts that include job aids and workbooks. Now we’re getting direct email as well. Wouldn’t a wiki or discussion forum, where everyone could join into the conversation work better? ASTD also offers fantastic Learning Labs – basically unconferences – where people discuss what they’ve learned so far. These sessions have individual wikis. Imagine integrating these sessions into an overall wiki, where they were searchable and easy to find for everyone. 

Again, I really enjoy the ASTD conferences, and I particularly enjoy the people I meet there. I appreciate the opportunity to speak at TechKnowledge. But I would love to somehow work with them to tweak their conference tools. I love that they’re trying to get attendees and speakers more connected, but I feel like they’re missing out on the opportunity for great discussion.

UPDATE: Just heard from ASTD, and they don’t want a group discussion. This baffles me completely. Group learning, group discussion, INFORMAL LEARNING – that’s the future. Not email. They are also setting up a social network via LinkedIn, so I’m not sure how well that will work. My money is on the idea that they’ll use the built-in discussion group features in LinkedIn and call that ASTD Connect.

Also, they hadn’t thought of a Twitter backchannel. Of course, the great thing about that is we can set it up ourselves if need be. I can’t even describe the amazing DevLearn Twitter backchannel and how much it brought to the conference for me.

I appreciate the effort, but somehow feel like they are missing out on the important points. I often feel like ASTD, and I include my local chapter in this, facilitates Learning 1.0 and sort of looks at Learning 2.0 but shies away like a scared bunny.

What do you think? As a speaker, would you rather have attendees email you or participate in a pre-session discussion? How about as an attendee? Would you rather send an email or participate in an informal, online discussion? I ask because I’m fully willing to admit that I’m wrong on this. Let me know.

Disclaimer: This is my third year leading a session of some sort at TechKnowledge. I am the frustrated webmaster (and recently the VP of Technology) for our local chapter. I’ve tried repeatedly to get on the Planning Committee for TechKnowledge as well – apparently I don’t know the right people. I want to fix this – not complain about it on my blog – but they make it difficult.

The world of eLearning is an interesting place. To let us all in on it, eLearning gurus George Siemens, Jay Cross and Tony Karrer have organized the free online conference called Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovation 2008.

The conference runs November 17 (today!) through the 21st online. You can follow the conference blog, participate in the community site, or just participate in the sessions. It’s not all learning specific either. For instance, one of the first sessions is an interview with one of my favorite authors, David Weinberger (Cluetrain Manifesto, Everything is Miscellaneous).

conference draws thousands from within and without the industry,
worldwide. It follows on the heels of last week’s DevLearn, and I
suspect it builds on the energy from that event, as well as making it
easy for folks who didn’t get to attend. After all, this one is free
and can be participated in from your desk. It fits into most corporate
training budgets at the moment.

Here are just a sampling of the speakers and topics over the next week:

  • Alvaro Fernandez: Brain Fitness for Peak Health and Performance
  • Kevin Wheeler: The Future of Talent
  • Dave Wilkins – The Amazon Model and Forum Model – the intersection of LMS and Learning 2.0
  • Nancy White – Online Social Architectures – Networks and Communities
  • Marcia Conner and Jon Husband: ROI of Web Learning
  • Allison Anderson: Corporate Learning Ecology

So many of the sessions are relative to more than just the learning
industry, so I hope you’ll join us for this free event. Follow the
conference Twitter account (you can also tweet to it by direct
messaging the account), and participate in any way that you can. Note that all sessions are on Pacific Coast Time.

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences, eLearning, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

This information went up and promptly sold out. The third Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast, sponsored quite nicely by Enquirer Media, is happening for those lucky few on October 16.

Here’s the information so you can get on the waiting list. By the way, I’m first on the waiting list. Even I wasn’t quick enough this time.

Come to the third Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast to listen,
share, network and learn along with other area marketing and new media

The power of Word of Mouth Marketing
is the theme of the free morning event as our special guest, Pete
Blackshaw, leads a discussion on the powerful shift that’s changed the
relationship between brands and consumers. More importantly we’ll
discuss how companies are responding to these changes.

It’s a FREE event, complete with breakfast, thanks to Enquirer Media’s sponsorship. 

Pete Blackshaw is EVP of Digital Strategic Services at Nielsen Online. He is also the author of Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000.” An accomplished blogger, Blackshaw has connected Cincinnati’s digital enthusiasts together via the Digital Cincinnati group on Facebook.

You will not want to miss Blackshaw’s industry-leading views on Word of Mouth marketing. 

** Registration is required and limited to 40 attendees. If the event is sold out, please leave a comment below to be added to our waiting list. **

Date: Thursday, October 16, 2008, from 7:30 to 9:30 am 
Location: Bridge Worldwide
302 W. Third Street 
Suite 900
Cincinnati, OH 45202

So there you go. To get on the waiting list, head to the official Social Media Breakfast site and leave a comment.


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, Pownce, and FriendFeed.
You can also catch Michelle presenting on Twitter at the upcoming DevLearn ’08 in San Jose.

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences |

I’ll be presenting on Twitter at DevLearn ’08 – both at an introductory breakfast bytes session and as a slightly more advanced session later on. That has led to a Guildcast where I was interviewed by Brent Schlenker of the eLearning Guild.

We talk about Twitter (or microblogging) in general, as well as different ways I’ve used Twitter in learning on my own. I didn’t even really get to the myriad of other ways to use Twitter in learning. It was sort of a spur of the moment interview, so I’m really impressed with how Brent managed to edit out my ums, ahs, and giggles.

Oh, and Twitter is like Kleenex? There are so many microblogging tools (Twitter, Pownce,, Jaiku, etc) that Twitter itself is sort of taking on a general term. You know, like Kleenex for any tissue or Coke for what is generally a soda.

The Guildcast is here – enjoy!

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences, eLearning, Twitter |

DevLearn 2008

11 August 2008

Both Tony and Clark have mentioned it, so it’s probably my turn. DevLearn 2008, sponsored by the eLearning Guild, is coming up in November.


I’ve never been to a Guild event, so I’m quite excited. I’ve heard great things about this conference. I was already impressed by the speaker selection process. The eLearning Guild takes it seriously. They don’t just review your proposal; they call you to talk about it. In my case, this led to a fantastic discussion on social media tools with Brent Schlenker, and I hope to re-meet Brent in person to continue the conversation. It’s not often I get to talk face to face with folks as passionate about social media in education as I am.

The Guild event boasts an impressive roster of speakers, including some of my favorite speakers (and people) such as Clark Quinn, Tony Karrer, and Lance Dublin. I’m also eager to hear Will Thalheimer, Judy Brown, Karen Hyder, and Mark Oehlert, among many others. These are people with whom I’ve crossed paths in the past, but haven’t had the chance to meet. I hope to change that this time around.

DevLearn is a bit more technical than a lot of eLearning conferences out there. If you usually don’t attend conerences because you’re easily bored, this might be the event for you. DevLearn is in San Jose, California (heart of the Silicon Valley), from November 12-14. Pre-conference workshops are on November 11 and the Adobe Learning Summit is November 10. Content partners include CompTIA, LETSI, and technical writing group WritersUA.

Who me? I’m talking about my favorite topic – Twitter. More specifically (or vaguely), I’ll be talking on Microblogging, which covers more than just my favorite tool.

I look forward to seeing you there. You’re going to head right over and register, right?


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, Pownce, and FriendFeed.

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences |

PodCamp Ohio Recap

30 June 2008

cross-posted from

If a Podcamp pops up in your area, I recommend you attend it. Among other reasons, Podcamps are free and you can’t argue with free networking and knowledge.

Podcamp Ohio
was a total success! I’m not sure of the numbers yet, but I believe
they may have surpassed 200 attendees. Not bad for an unconference that
ran a basically viral marketing campaign, depending on Twitter and word
of mouth.

The sessions were great. I enjoyed the first session I attended – Podcasting in Plain English by David Jackson.
It covered all the basics you need for podcasting. Sometimes I think
these podcasting experts forget that if you’re just experimenting with
the idea, you shouldn’t go out and buy expensive equipment. Jackson
made sure to mention that. Make sure it’s something you like and enjoy
before investing.

I also attended What Not to Do: Social Media Anti-Tips by Paull Young and Luke Armour.
It was probably my favorite session of the day, although I didn’t
attend too many. In this session they covered all sorts of social media
mistakes, particularly pertaining to marketing. They interspersed their
presentation with Great Moments in Twitter, which showcased some more
embarrassing tweets. Remember folks, Twitter is forever.

My session on Twitter went quite well – or so I’ve heard. I’m trying
to get a full presentation together for some upcoming conferences and
this was sort of a practice run for me. I got enough feedback that I’ve
already started "upgrading" my presentation, although many have told me
it’s fine as is. I had a complicated mix in the room of Twitter
skeptics and Twitter diehards. It’s hard to gear a presentation to
both, but hopefully I carried it off.

For me, the best part of Podcamp was the time I spent networking.
Perhaps I’m a bad camper, but I missed about two sessions because I was
getting to know people in the cafe and hallway. I particularly enjoyed
conversations with Shawn Morton of Profilactic and Doug Petch.
In fact, Podcamp drove home a point for me about social networking. In
my various speaking engagements, I always try to push the fact that
while we’re all making friends online, our real goal is face to face
networking. For a lot of people, myself included, it’s easier to
network semi-anonymously online and then meet someone in person.
Meeting so many of my Twitter friends "in real life" at Podcamp was
fantastic. Meeting Doug Dockery, Julie Niesen, and others, well, it was like meeting old friends.

There were several folks video/audio recording each of the sessions.
(I’m camera shy, so I found this unnerving). The sessions should be
online sometime soon.

And to the organizers, congratulations on a successful event!


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, or on Pownce.

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

If you work in eLearning at all, or you want to learn more about how to integrate new Web 2.0 technologies into your workplace, I’ve got a seminar for you. Plus, it’s amazingly inexpensive.


Dr. Tony Karrer, CEO of TechEmpower, and author of at least two learning-related blogs, is running a seminar on July 15 here in Cincinnati. The seminar is sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati ASTD chapter, but you don’t have to be a member to participate.

Attendees of the  workshop will

  • Experience new tools including blogs, Wikis, social networks, social book marking, RSS readers
  • Learn specific methods you can use to accelerate your own knowledge work and learning
  • Define strategies for eLearning 2.0 for your organization
  • Make a plan for getting an eLearning 2.0 toolset for yourself and your organization

Tony is an expert on innovative uses of technology that improves human performance. He is a sought after presenter on eLearning 2.0 and it’s implications on workplace learning. He is the author of the award winning eLearning Technology blog and recently founded Work Literacy.

The workshop will be held at the NKU METS Center in Erlanger Kentucky. Breakfast and networking will be from 8am-9am. The workshop begins at 9am.

The cost for the workshop is $129 for GCASTD Members and $179 for Non-Members. The price includes breakfast, lunch and GCASTD membership for Non-Members.

For more information or to register for the event, visit the GCASTD web site.


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, or on Pownce.

Later today, right here in this post, I’m going to attempt to live-blog the Apple WWDC keynote that everyone (myself included) is so excited about. One of the reasons I’m doing this is because I want to test out, a nifty live-blogging application. Now, I say I’m going to attempt the live blog. It depends on a couple of things. I need to at least HEAR the keynote, and iPhone Alley is delivering that. However, The Digital Lifestyle is videostreaming the event, and SEEING is better than just hearing. I’m not the only one tuned into this information though, which means that I could lose the connection, the streaming could be down, and all sorts of technical things could go wrong, which means the live blog won’t happen.

But I’ll try. For those of you on a feed, the liveblogging shows up as an embeddable widget. To read the liveblog transcript, at the moment, you’ll need to actually visit the blog.

Find Michelle Lentz here at Write Technology, on, on Twitter, or Pownce.

Are you going to camp?

14 April 2008

Are you going to camp? Podcamp? If you’re unfamiliar, I suppose it sounds a little odd. Perhaps a camp with podpeople from a horror movie.

Well, it’s not that, and it’s not really a camp. It is, however, a day full of information on podcasting, blogging, Twitter, and all sorts of social media. There are a lot of reasons to come to Podcamp Ohio:

  • It’s free!
  • If you read blogs, listen to podcasts, are involved in Facebook groups, or are just curious about social media, this is your chance to learn more!
  • If you’re already involved in social networking, this is a chance to meet people you probably talk to all the time – except now you get to meet them in person.
  • There are all sorts of neat sessions. Personally, I’m looking forward to the WordPress 101 session (and I’m also presenting on Twitter).
  • It’s an unconference, so you can present if you want to. By the people and for the people …
  • It’s a relaxed way to learn more about new media, whether you’re a novice or an expert. Everyone there has similar interests and want to help others learn more.
  • It’s free!

Podcamp Ohio is taking place on June 28, from 9 am – 5 pm, in Columbus, Ohio. The cost is free, and the payoff is more knowledge and more contacts.

Want to know more? Check out the PodCamp Ohio web site!

continue reading »

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences, Web 2.0 |