What do public sector cuts mean for staff development and good practice sharing?

I had a conversation this morning with someone who runs conferences and events aimed at the public sector. This person is very worried about his business because it appears likely that the spending cuts looming will have a dramatic effect on the ability of public organisations to afford to send delegates to conferences and training events.

This led me to wonder if the “unconference” will now come into its own as a mechanism for staff development and best practice sharing among public organisations.
Social Media Unconference, Sheffield 10th February 2010

During the past couple of years, I have been part of a number of really good “unconference”-type events, the most recent being the Social Media in Education Podcamp, held at Doncaster College on June 30th, Self-organised, semi-unstructured events are becoming increasingly popular as vehicles for getting people together, and, in the public sector, there is a growing movement of “GovCamps” and “localgovcamps”.

Basically, unconferences, are self-curated events at which the participants set the agenda at the beginning of the day, and people volunteer to run sessions on their specialist subjects. They might be called unconferences, but could also be called:

  • barcamps; or
  • open spaces
  • To date, they have mainly been organised by enthusiastic individuals, particularly around technology or social media-focused agendas.

    Perhaps it is time for the unconference to move out of the shadows and into the mainstream as a major force in public sector staff development and the sharing of good practice.