Navigating the Ed Tech Conference Waters

The sheer amount of associations and conferences in the Educational Technology world can be quite… well, overwhelming. For a Cooperative Extension professional looking for professional development opportunities where tech meets outreach and engagement, it can also be intimidating and frustrating.

We’ve cut through the Ed Tech conference clutter a bit to lay before you a concise list of what’s out there, what they cover, and what you should invest your precious time and travel money into.

Non-Profit Conferences

We recommend:

  • Social Media 4 Non-Profits (SM4NP) – this one-day workshop is not only cheap, but super easy to get to with more than a dozen locations nationwide each year. The only downside? It’s focused just on social media.

Also of note:

  • Nonprofit Technology Network Conference (NTEN) – focus areas for NTEN include digital strategy and outcomes and impact, which fit in well with Cooperative Extension goals. Membership has many perks including regular professional development opportunities outside of the annual NTEN conference.

Higher Ed

We recommend:

  • Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate – this new conference (new in 2016) will focus on bringing different groups interested in online learning from all fields together to discuss and brainstorm online learning innovation.
  • Online Learning Consortium (OLC)  – the OLC is the premier national conference for blended and virtual learning. Different levels of membership give you access to professional development opportunities like face-to-face and virtual workshops, webinars, and Hangouts. Topic foci lean toward formal learning environments, but informal teaching methods such as digital storytelling and infographic creation have also been covered.

Also of note:

  • eduCAUSE – this association is mostly for higher ed IT professionals and CIOs, but routinely offers professional development on broad topics such as start up solutions and how to inspire innovation on college campuses. Their annual conference also offers a virtual participation option.
  • mLearnCon – an offshoot of the Higher Ed focused eLearningGuild, mLearnCon is an annual conference devoted to mobile learning.


  • New Media Expo – covers all things media, but specializes in blogging, podcasting, and video creation.


The following conferences are focused mainly on K-12 learning environments, but may be interesting to attend just to garner new tools and ideas for new methods of teaching with tech:

Have you attended any of the conferences listed? Have comments or recommendations based on your experiences there? What is missing from the list? Where should #EdTechLN plan a meet up in 2016?

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