Designing a Next Generation Experience For Teachers
Will It Be Face-to-Face or Digital?

Just a few weeks ago, I extolled the virtues of virtual community organizing. But does that mean face-to-face experiences are dead? Teachers constantly tell us that face-to-face professional development is better than any other type. They can’t imagine a day when they get everything virtually or digitally from the web.

It turns out that teachers’ preferences for face-to-face experiences are the norm, especially among millenials, at least according to Julia Hartz, the CEO of Eventbrite, an online event organizing service. This surprised me since I thought of millenials as digital natives and digitally obsessed. At the Wisdom 2.0 conference last week, Julie said we have nothing to fear—live experiences are not on the brink of distinction. Her company conducted some research that showed three trends keeping face-to-face experiences here to stay. #1 Changing values. She argued that people used to brag about what they owned (a car, a house, etc.). Now people are touting what they do and where they go. Think about it.  #2 Technology is actually fueling more live experiences. She said that people actually build more social capital from participating in live events rather than seeing something online. She quoted Taylor Swift: “Ever since I got my iPhone people don’t ask for my autograph. They want the selfie, of course!” #3 Finally, Julia described FOMO—the fear of missing out. This behavior is driving an increase in live experiences. She gave the example of how the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was live streamed on YouTube one year. Most marketers thought it would be the death of event tickets, but the festival actually saw a rise in sales the following year. People watched it online, had the FOMO, and wanted to go even more.

So teachers can probably rest assured that “live PD” is not on the brink of extinction, even in the digital age. Wouldn’t it be amazing though if PD experiences for teachers were so valuable in their own schools that they wanted to take “selfies” with that rock star down the hall? Or what if teachers could create that FOMO event that became the most coveted place to find rich resources and rich connections with teachers that share the same values, hopes and dreams for their students? Now that is the kind of event I want to help some entrepreneurial teachers organize. Any takers?

– C.