If so I'd like to draw your attention to a three-part blog post by Jill Hurst-Wahl, associate professor of practice in the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. Although addressed to professional development in the library/information sciences community many of her thoughts transfer to "education" in the genealogical community.
Innovating Professional Conferences, Part 1: What's the problem? explains why we need to dramatically innovate our conferences.
First, we must meet people at that point where they have a need for professional development. That means using different delivery mechanisms for professional development, including webinars and other tools. It might even mean the development of specific tools that don't exist now.Innovating Professional Conferences, Part 2: How can librarians improve every conference? delves into issues of copyright and/or content licensing that come into play when professional development, which could include making presentations from a conference, is made available online.
Second, if we are delivering professional development that gives library and information professionals the training that they need when they need it, then we need to understand what the new role is for conferences as the exhibit halls that go with them. What do we need to come together in one spot to learn? What - in terms of what someone could learn - would justify the cost for attending such an event?
Innovating Professional Conferences, Part 3: Can we bring remote participants into a conference? ends with the conclusion:
Are there other problems with conferences and other solutions? Yes. In fact, there are likely as many problems and solutions as there are conferences and conference participants. The key is being willing to change...and for some conferences, those changes a long overdue because their number of participants and exhibitors are dropping. If they believe that professional development is important, then now is the time to do it differently, before their audience is completely gone.Ask yourself as a conference organizer what you can do to surprise and delight attendees, something memorable they'll think of as a highlight of the year they could only have experienced by being there in person?