That Conference Planning Life

Oh hello my poor poor neglected blog! So sad and dusty! I’ve kept you, thinking that maybe one day I might come back to you. I’m making no promises, but maybe that might just happen…

For right now, I have a very real need that I think this dusty blog can meet. I know most folks who know me, know that I help plan (and shamelessly promote) SUM Conference every year. Over the years, it has been a personal priority that our keynotes and session facilitators are a diverse group of educators. This has been made much easier by the amazing #MTBoS community, and the relationships I have developed there.

My day job also has me planning the annual Saskatchewan IT Summit, an EdTech conference that brings together both educators and tech support personnel from across the province. While my commitment to diversity remains, my connections and knowledge of this particular sphere of educators is just so much less. It’s not that I’m not interested in EdTech, it’s just that I’m way more interested in mathematics and so that’s where I’ve built a community and have connections I can use to craft a conference line up.

This year, as we do every year, my advisory committee submitted suggestions for who I might research to have keynote next year’s conference. Since they all just email me some names, they have no idea that they constructed a list of exclusively white men. Yikes. While our end selection may be a white male because we truly feel they have the message and knowledge that our participants need most this upcoming year, I am wildly uncomfortable about a starting point of a list of 10 white dudes. So, I then sent out a tweet asking where I might start to do some research on the amazing women of EdTech. Unsurprisingly I was bombarded with recommendations, so many that it would be absolutely impossible for me to research them all.

So, why not create a space that can meet my need of finding talent and simultaneously support others who might have similar needs to mine? This is obviously not perfect, as this work is absolutely intersectional and I am limiting this project to women for right now. Maybe I will think of a way to thoughtfully expand the different lenses through which we should be considering diversity and inclusion when planning events, but on limited time I currently don’t know how to do this well. It’s summer, so I might be open to suggestions for next year? I’m hesitant to make any promises as this whole thing could go sideways quickly and I acknowledge that I might wind up pulling the whole thing down.

However, fear of things going badly shouldn’t stop you from doing them. So! Amazing Women of EdTech, I want to compile an ever growing spreadsheet of you to help support other people in roles like me. I hope this is as low entry as possible – enter yourself, enter your amazing colleague, enter that amazing keynote you actually saw (or tell them to enter themselves). Enter as much or as little information as you would like – people like me are used to doing research about this anyway, so leaving a field or two blank if you hit our interests or hoped for areas of expertise is really no big deal. I am, however, specifically looking to create this space for people who have facilitation experience and either are already or are looking to begin keynoting.

I plan to make the data public and searchable (though I may need some help doing that well), updating it at minimum annually but ideally a couple more times. Who knows what this might evolve into over time, but for now, as a resource it will support me immensely and so I hope it will support others.

So here it is! Submit away! Also a giant thank you to @EdTechAri and @McCheesen who helped edit and proof this!

Women of EdTech Google Form

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