Let's Hack the Annual Conference

This session took place on Thursday, March 9th, 2017 at 10am at SXSWedu

Listen to the session on SoundCloud

What You Will Find on This Site

You can meet the presenters.

You can learn about participants' thoughts on their professional development experiences, as well as characteristics of different archetypes of conference goers - all of whom were represented among participants!

You can view the wide variety of "favorite ideas" generated by groups during brainstorming/ideation.

You can explore the final prototypes developed by participants.

You can find resources on design thinking, professional development, and the awesome tools that were the prizes for the "winning" teams!

Follow our session on Twitter using #HackPDXXL

Teacher professional development has come a long way - we've incorporated social media, started grassroots unconferences and found success in responsive, intimate workshops. But nothing can replace the large-scale, international conference as a venue for connection and inspiration. Yet these massive conferences present a critical unsolved problem of how to provide deep and complex learning opportunities of the type that we strive to offer our students. What constraints and assumptions can we challenge about what a conference looks, feels and sounds like? How might we disrupt the massive conference model, keeping the scale and broad connection while deepening participant learning?

Session Agenda


  • Introductions
  • Review Agenda
  • Overview of our process/DT

Warm-up needfinding

  • Interview someone at your table & capture stickies
    • What do you want to get out of an annual conference?
    • What do you want to get out of PD in general?

What do we know?

  • Build on your conference experiences (at SX this week, at annual conferences)
  • Sticky Note Discussion:
      • Consider two specific conference you’ve attended. How were they different?
      • What are the different types of “sessions” you’ve participated in?
      • Does learning happens at conferences outside of “sessions”? Explain.
      • Think of your best conference experiences - what made it feel that way?
      • Think of your worst conference experiences - what made it feel that way?
  • Gallery walk!

What do we want to understand (needfinding)?

  • Silently brainstorm new, deeper questions to one might ask
  • Introduce Archetypes of conference-goers:
      • Keynote Lovers
      • Hands-on Learner
      • Lecture Goers
      • Conversationalists
      • Implement RIGHT NOW ers
      • Networkers
      • Trend Followers
      • Early Adopters
  • Identify which is your dominant/primary archetypes. Are we missing any?
  • Find someone of a different archetype:
    • Say hello!
    • Discuss the questions from your and your partner's specific archetype's perspective
    • Document the responses you get

What might we design together? (25 min)

  • Share Brainstorming Tips
  • Begin brainstorming for your 2+ conference personas
  • Share out your team’s favorite idea -> Post it on this page!

Design Time (45 min)

  • Get into a team based on a problem/idea
  • Start brainstorming, prototyping!
    • Build out one page on this Google Site for your conference

Wrap up

  • Groups present/pitch their conferences
    • Combine or mix & match ideas
  • Vote for your favorite idea by spending your PD Bux
    • It costs 50 PD Bux to attend a conference!
    • There might be... prizes!
  • What’s next?
    • How might we bring our ideas to to life?
    • How might we stay in-touch?