This year at NIPS one of the great keynotes was by Daphne Koller about Coursera and the flipped classroom. On another day I was at lunch with Chetan Bhole from Amazon, who pointed out that all of us go to conferences to hear each other's lectures: since the flipped classroom is great, we should apply the concept to the conference.
I love this idea.
It's impractical to consider moving an entire conference over to this format (at least until the idea gains credibility), but the workshops provide an excellent experimental testbed, since the organizers are plenary. Here's how it would work: for some brave workshop, accepted submissions to the workshop (and invited speakers!) would have accompanying videos, which workshop participants would be expected to watch before the workshop. (We could even use Coursera's platform perhaps, to get extra things like mastery questions and forums.) During the workshop, speakers only spend 2 minutes or so reminding the audience who they are and what was the content of their video. Then, it becomes entirely interactive Q-and-A, presumably heavily whiteboard or smartboard driven.
Feel free to steal this idea. Otherwise, maybe I'll try to organize a workshop just to try this idea out.