As a presenter and attendee of the annual Tri-Association Educators’ Conference for the past couple years, the 2017 conference in Costa Rica introduced an exciting additional component- an intentional implementation of social media. While many conferences around the world have well developed hashtags and digital components, this was an area of opportunity for enhancement at the Tri-Association Conference.
In past years, you would often find the same 10-15 people Tweeting links and sharing ideas, and that was about it. Generally speaking, it only happened during the days of the conference, rather than as a continuous collaboration throughout the remainder of the year. This year proved different. First, Silvia Tolisano was on board with the mission of encouraging the use of social media throughout the 3 day learning experience. She spoke to the attendees, following a keynote presentation, about the power of social media and its benefits for collaborative learning. She then introduced two powerful tools that would be used throughout the conference in order to encourage the use of social media in a positive and intentional manner: Twitter and GooseChase.
The Twitter hashtag #TriConf17 was introduced and demonstrated to show how the hashtag can be used to aggregate and curate the resources and ideas shared throughout the conference. After the promotion and understanding that we would all be using a consistent hashtag, it was clear the explanation proved effective. Based on my experience, it’s easy to say (and see) that this was the busiest year the Tri-Association Conference had on Twitter. In addition, a Storify was also created for the conference- to bring content containing the #TriConf17 hashtag together from other other social media platforms outside of Twitter.
GooseChase was the other fun and engaging tool introduced this year. This free mobile app creates a mixture of physical and digital components in the form of a scavenger hunt. This tool created a sense of community, learning, and healthy competition. The entire attendee community was divided into teams based on the country they were representing at the conference. There were a series of challenges, each attached to a valued number of points- and countries were encouraged to complete these challenges throughout the days of the conference. Updates were given as teams completed challenges and it added a great sense of fun- and maybe a little bit of anxiety (the good kind). Challenge examples ranged from sharing your favorite educator blog to actually writing a blog post and sharing it (this is that example!). Others challenges included created a human pyramid, organizing and documenting a flashmob, and taking selfies with people you met and plan on collaborating with (example below).
Overall, the addition of the digital and social media component at the 36th Annual Educators’ Conference created a new sense of learning and community- that will hopefully continue through the year… and onto next years conference in the Dominican Republic!