After a grueling and prolonged pandemic, the days of stacked education conference calendars spanning the globe and events pulling in thousands of attendees might almost seem like a relic of bygone era.
Yet recently, a light at the end of the tunnel has flickered into view. Fourteen months after lockdowns and seemingly endless uncertainty sent the events industry into virtual hibernation, a cautious cluster of education conferences now list in-person dates through the rest of the year, according to an education events tracker co-managed by EdSurge.
With a few exceptions, including the higher-ed behemoth Educause and the startup- and investor-focused ASU+GSV Summit, most are small specialty conferences expected to attract a few hundred attendees at most.
There’s the annual summit for the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents slated for Washington, D.C., in October. An annual conference for the Association for Middle Level Education in Louisville, Ky., the following month. And not one but two live events for the National Council for the Social Studies in November and December.
But first there will be DLAC, the Digital Learning Annual Conference, set for June 14 to 16 in Austin, Texas—with a parallel track running online. It’s what’s known as a “hybrid” conference, blending both live and virtual elements similar to how many schools slowly filtered back to full-time learning last fall.
“Being in digital learning, we always talk about the importance of relationships and engagement,” says John Watson, the founder of the consultancy Evergreen Education Group, which started DLAC (pronounced dee-lac) in 2019, making it one of the newer conferences on the circuit. “I actually really feel like we are practicing what we preach in the field with a hybrid conference.”