I had the good fortune to attend the Geekretreat (Stanford Valley) on the weekend. I must say that I was rather sceptical to begin with. It promised to be a convergence of likeminded people carefully selected to share their ideas, insights and solutions for education and techonology in South Africa. I must say that after having attended I am, to be frank, rather blown away. What has really piqued my curiosity is how the space was used to get the most out of the attendees. What I really liked was the idea that no one was there as a tourist. So often at events, the critic in one's head plays a running narrative on what's not working and what is failing to land. It is remarkable how getting every voice in the room changes that. Each person had to volunteer to contribute something. It was set up in manner which is called Unconference.
Instead of the usual predetermined slots with speakers and topics confirmed, delegates were encouraged to choose from a range of areas they could contribute to. Choices included being able to give a Lightening Talk ( a 5 minute impromptu speech on a topic which you considered worthwhile to share), a skills share (20 minutes on a skill which you could teach those attending) or a talking heads session (where you spoke for 20 minutes on a topic that was close to your heart - participants were given a piece of paper with three numbers on it - one number per talking head so talks attended were based on a random selection). I am an ambassador for the Talking Heads event which is part of the Infecting the City Project in Cape Town so I must say that if there was any criticism of the use of the Talking Heads concept it was that it didn't come close to the calibre of what is presented at the real deal. But this is an aside and pretty irrelevant in the grander scheme of things. I have returned to work invigorated by the possibility of being able to use a mobile enabled learning platform for executive education courses at the GSB and all fired up to run an open course on Curiosity as a Leadership Practice at the P2P University this year.
I also got to meet some really insightful people and I feel hopeful, really hopeful about the future of technology-enabled education in this country. Thanks for the invitation - it has truly been worthwhile.