Catch Up with an Annual Conference

Spark provides conference stipends to send network members to any of these upcoming conferences on learning and creativity.

Any member of Spark, the Kids + Creativity Network, should know that the world of creative education is constantly changing and evolving. From digital media & learning, to programming and coding, to artistic strategies, and more, education is in constant flux. As soon as one aspect gains popularity, there is another insight that is emerging in the field. In order to stay up-to-date on renovations and innovations in education, industry leaders need to disperse information! They do this in a series of annual conferences focused on creativity and education development.

Annual conferences are everywhere, and taking place all the time. They are also hosted by a variety of organizations, and inclined to attract a variety of audiences. The topics vary, also. While the Sandbox Summit, focused on the importance and benefits of play, is related to the Games for Change Festival, investigating how games can be used for more than just fun, it is a completely different avenue than CPSI Conference, facilitated by the Creative Problem Solving Institute and focused on finding the motivation in people to expand creativity, and the PAEYC Conference, facilitated by the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children and focused on communicating the value and best practices of early childhood education. These conferences cover entirely different topics, but all fall under the banner of education and creativity–the bond that ties them all together.

Additional conferences worth checking out are the DML Conference, focused on analyzing and interpreting the impact of digital media and the Internet, Big Ideas Fest, geared towards redesigning the future of education, Fred Forward, facilitated by the Fred Rogers Center and focused on technology and interactive media in early childhood education, and the NMC Summer Conference, brought to life by the New Media Consortium and featuring talks on the technology that makes learning more relevant and more engaging. The Aspen Ideas Festival, featuring though-provoking, meaningful, and fun deep-discussions on current issues, and the CSUSB Conference for Innovative Education, facilitated by the California State University of San Bernardino and focused on 21st century learning, are also worth a look!

EdSurge, an online education publication, has compiled a hefty list of upcoming conferences this year that have the potential to make positive differences. Five of them stood out as opportunities that could be valuable to Spark network members! The 5th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning, hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada and quickly approaching at the end of this month, may spark the interest of some online educators in the Pittsburgh region, promising to examine the application of online and blended tools and instruction. The Serious Play Conference may take network members in a different direction as they venture to Seattle, Washington to discuss simulations, virtual worlds, and serious games. Those interested in conversation about the future of open education should travel to Vancouver this October to participate in the Open Education Conference.  For those more interested in the nonprofit development of education institutions and their strategies and efforts, make plans for NYC to participate in the 16th Annual Grantmakers for Education Conference at the end of October.

If traveling is not your thing, but you’d still love to partake in a conference, fear not! Your chance is coming up in November. The Global Education Conference is an online, open to all, FREE conference that seeks to discuss how educators can increase opportunities for building education-related connections across the globe, while supporting cultural awareness. EdSurge provides a solid list of conferences open for registration throughout the end of the year. We encourage you to look at them all!

There are countless education and creativity conferences taking place around the world. Attending one is the perfect opportunity to travel the globe, tell of the incredible things happening here in Pittsburgh, meet incredibly passionate individuals, and learn something new! Spark, a program of The Sprout Fund, can help you do just that through a conference stipend, providing you with financial assistance in conference fees. To learn more about how you can apply for a conference stipend through Spark, check out the website or email

Published July 11, 2012