I think I have written several times before about the problems with conferences. Too many boring sessions with short presentations featuring long lists of bullet points in PowerPoint. At best time for a couple of questions before the next speaker. Inadequate review processes as all conferences want to get as many delegates as they can. Too expensive, thus excluding emerging researchers, but still with enough funding for gala dinners for those senior enough to get a travel grant.
And of course, we all say how the informal discussion outside the conference room is the best part but we never think about why that might be.
But things are slowly changing. Just as smaller, better organised niche music festivals have slowly emerged alongside the mega events, so too are new conferences being established which try at least to promote discourse and to break the traditional mould.
One of the best I have attended recently is the Crossing Boundaries conferences - held three years ago in Bremen in Germany and last year in Rostock.
The “Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training” Conference, the organisers say is guided by the following ten principles:
- being active: all participants are presenters, therefore you cannot participate without presenting
- interdisciplinarity: all contributions around work and learning are welcome
- keynote speakers: each day will be opened with at least one keynote
- open: no conference fee
- selection: you submit to the conference organizer a short research paper (500-1000 words) which will undergo a review process
- familarity: one evening is reserved to catch up with old friends and meet new ones in a relaxed atmosphere
- small size: the conference is limited to 80 participants
- time: the presentation time is 20 minutes (maximum) with additional 10 minutes time for discussion (minimum); sessions are chaired
- proceedings: after acceptance all participants contribute with their research paper (up to 2000 words) to the conference proceedings which will be available on the first day of the conference in printed version and later in digital (with download option e.g. on ResearchGate)
- special edition: some participants will be invited to contribute with an extended research paper (up to 5000 words) to a special edition which will be published in IJRVET International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training
The 2019 Conference is being held in Valencia, Spain. Abstracts are due in by 31 May this year. See you there?