This past weekend, I attended HRevolution which is considered to be an "unconference". While at first I did not really understand what that meant, nor did I care because quite honestly, I was going to meet alot of really cool online "HR geeks" like me that I have never met in person. I knew a few but most of them, I only met via twitter chats such as "T-Chat" or blog talk radio shows (which I love by the way) such as "Drive Thru HR" and "HR Happy Hour".
Much to my delight and amazement, I not only met some awesome people and learned some amazing things, I really came to understand what it means to run an "unconference". At least I think I do. There are some rules, like no Power Points, no scripted message, no requirements to appease the speaker and stay in all sessions till the end and more. There are also some, well, I guess you could say open communication rules (really "no" rules related to communication). For example, you can interrupt the speaker, put them down, cuss, and just be yourself. Of course, all is done in light humor and an "no offense taken" sort of manner.
While I would not say the above is not so common in most of my HR classes, the process for learning is very much the same. Actually, some of the round table sessions I have facilitated at our chapter meetings is similar as well. The most powerful "take away" from this event is that attendees walked away with a deeper more personal relationship and understanding of the topics covered. Why? Because they were able to discuss and apply the knowledge during the learning process to situations that they were dealing with on the job. The learning was not primarily the speakers agenda it was open to change based on the learners needs (thus the open dialogue communication mentioned above).
As a follow-up to this conference I spoke to my friend, college and ILSHRM predecessor, John Jorgensen about the possibility of adding an "unconference" trac to our annual state conference who reminded me that HRCI does not grant recertification credit for this type of programming. While it had not even crossed my mind because that is not why I attended HRevolution, so I was not expecting it, I do know that many of our attendees are looking for recertification credit. With over 5,800 certified individuals in the state this is something for us to consider when we are planning our program. Unfortunately, I think this is sad and confused as to why an "unconference" is not considered a professional learning experience. The body of knowledge is covered one way or the other and a good facilitator can make sure it is no matter what. Most HR speakers know what the HRCI requirements are because we have spoken at various chapter meetings and conferences in the past.
My call to action here is to ask more SHRM, HRCI, and related decision makers to attend an "unconference" to judge for yourself.
--If I can teach an HR class in this manner and my time for teaching and my students time for attending can be counted for recertification,
--If I can facilitate a SHRM Foundation DVD series video round table discussion and my time for facilitating and the participants time for attending can be counted for recertification,
--then why can we also not count "unconference" attendance? In my opinion, you can't judge until you have attended one and in the mean time your "EYES are indeed Wide Shut" to quote Dr. Seuss (a very influential trainer of young and old minds alike).