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The Flight to Stockholm is how much?!?! Why now is the perfect time for more virtual conferences. March 24, 2010

Posted by michaelpawlus in Uncategorized.
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Hmmm… that picture is smaller than I thought it would be.

Nevermind, it serves its purpose and that is to show that last week I rolled out of bed, made some coffee and then sat on my couch with my cat by my side and listened to a great presentation from Westley Field of Skoolaborate.  It was a really great topic about leveraging virtual worlds like SecondLife to create new learning environments and promote global dialogue.   I am a really big fan of creating alternative learning spaces for those that don’t excel in more traditional school models.  Actually though, the topic is beside the point.  The point I want to make is that the speaker was in Australia and I was in a crowd of people from at least five different countries and we were all engaging in a conversation for the cost of a broadband connection.

To contrast this experience, one of the reasons that I haven’t been contributing to this blog as much as I would like is that I have been applying to every speaking opportunity that comes my way in an effort to make my CV stand out just that little bit extra.  To this end, I have been really pleased with the results of my efforts.  To date, I have been accepted to speak at two conferences and present a poster session at another two; I was even asked to run a skills session at my university.  I don’t want this to come off the wrong way.  I have been getting my fair share of rejection letters as well but I am happy to have some opportunities come my way because I have been putting a considerable amount of time into developing my proposals.  However, it only took one look around for plane ticket prices before I came crashing way back down to earth.

With venues in Sweden and Finland, I was prepared for transportation costs to possibly present some issues.  However, I figured there would be some funding sources available and anyways I could work a little extra here and there and borrow a bit if I had to but it would all be for the greater good to put these four (or five) new bullet points on my CV under the brand new heading “Presentations”.  Those that are in my same position already know but for everyone else any guesses on the price for a roundtrip flight from Detroit to Stockholm in August………………………….. $1800+!!!!!  Now, i didn’t dig around at all so I am likely to find a slightly better price than that but even if I cut it in half what are the chances that I will find funding to cover even the flight costs let alone a place to lay my head, the price of admission, local transportation costs and other little things.

I don’t know where I am going to possibly find this money so there goes the four bullet points, the shiny new heading.  Oh, “Presentations” we hardly even knew ye!  However, I don’t write this just to lament my own loss.  I am wondering how anyone can afford to fly to a conference these days.  Are we all stuck just presenting in our immediate area?  Will an eye cast out into a so-called global conference find only a sea of trust-funders?  I know that conference organizers can’t control the price of air travel but are these conferences still able to meet their target audiences?  Could it not help to offer some space in a virtual environment so that your message can reach more people?  I know some events have begun to offer this and I am now off to hope that the conferences that accepted me will somehow allow me to present in a virtual space.  I hope an alternative like this will be available for at least one of the opportunities that I have been offered.  I have the ideas, I am willing to do the work, I’m just a couple grand short.