Having watched the events recently at edubloggercon and NECC from afar I think it is fair to say edubloggercon was the more transformative of the two experiences for those who attended both.
In my world, as a teacher here in Australia, I see teacher professional development (PD) being an area needing much innovation and attention. It has to happen, and the web is the perfect platform.
In the past 6 mths my own PD has been transformed through two things:
1. Free online conferences using Elluminate and hosted by people like Manitoba University (aka George Seimens) and the Australian Flexible Learning Network
2. Connections I have made through other web technologies such as twitter, edtechtalk, ning and skype.
So, I am very keen to get involved in such a beast as an international edubloggercon. What's stopping us - we have the common need, the tools, the desire and the people. What's next?
I think we're living in a very dynamic and exciting time for professional educator learning. The innovators and early adopters (who I think comprise most of the population in the edu-blogger and online learning communities at this point) are going to keep racing forward. A big challenge we face, however, is inviting and including others who fall into the "early majority" and "late majority" groups, who do not have the desire or other personality factors (I'm not sure what all those are) to get involved in online collaborative learning like people in the first two groups do. Some authors have noted it takes a different set of "hooks" or "carrots" to reach the early and late majority, and certainly to reach the "laggards." Educators who today (because of course, they can choose at any moment to change their behavior) continue to be defined by one of those latter group labels need to included in these conversations about transformative digital learning. I think one of our key goals, as innovators and early adopters, should be sharing best practices about "reaching" and "involving" other teachers who aren't here with us yet.
I really agree with what you have said. Classroom20.com was created to help fill that exact purpose of reaching out. Hopefully, it provides some relatively immediate sense of engagement with "Web 2.0" for educators who haven't used anything like that before.
Just thinking out loud: EduBloggerWorld, on the other hand, was created (really spearheaded by Darren) to find a way to provide the really exciting connections that we felt at EduBloggerCon to a broader geographic audience, but with those in mind who are already using the tools and want to talk at *that* level.
Is that a good distinction to make between the two sites/networks?
I see classroom20.com as the entry point. You take the inexperienced teacher there to show them a large collection of tools, with suggestions for pedagogical uses.
This community, on the other hand, is the group that creates classroom20.com (which could use an update or three, IMHO). In a sense, we make the rules - or at least discover them. In such a role we also, like Wes has said, discover the best ways to bring along the laggards - because like it or not, we are the change agents.
Another purpose I see for the EduBloggerWorld community is just that: to build better community. That's why EduBloggerCon 2007 was such a success. We were finally all on the same page at exactly the same time.
At this time on an international level, however, the scene is much different. Sure, it's a "flat world" (or so we claim) and we can all read and comment on each other's blogs - but to be honest, I think that as a world we are very disconnected. The Americans do their thing, the Spanish do their thing, and the Australians do their thing. If the world is so flat, then why can't we learn to learn together? If we were so connected as "global, web 2.0 teachers", then I think we would all be a little more willing to learn a thing or two from each other. I hope that this community can teach us all to be one. When even the laggards are engaged in Horizon Projects of their own, then we have succeeded (in one sense) as a group.
For what it's worth,
By the way, Wes: you would LOVE the graduate class I am in right now. It's called Diffusion of Innovations. Our two texts are the Rogers book and The Tipping Point.
And yes, I know classroom20.com is a wiki and that even I can update it. Trust me, I'll get to it when I "get a minute".
Thanks for your thoughts. I hope I didn't jump in too early with my comments/questions.
I get that distinction though. But how do you maintain that distinction in reality? Do you make this group an invite only or are you happy for newbies to wander in? Was the EduBloggerCon before NECC07 invite only or was it open to anyone who wanted to attend?
The concept of a flat professional development world is a tricky one. There will always be cultural differences and these lead to different edtech approaches and ultimately this makes the tapestry richer. But maybe you are talking about a space where we share what is different and learn from each other as a result, celebrating diversity and making every attempt to get to accommodate different cultures.
How then do we make it not American-centric? (or Australian-centric or ....)?
I guess some of my thinking is framed by a very good question about the Olympic Effect posed by Graham Wegner. Worth a read if you haven't done so already and I would like to know what others think.
p.s. after typing this reply I am left wondering which space I 'belong to', am I a discoverer or a creator? Curiouser and curiouser ;-)
Graham's post is probably the main reason we are all beginning these connections (and the reason this Ning exists). To view the history, read Graham's post first, then here, and then here.
We had originally thought to have an EduBloggerCon-type event in either Second Life or Elluminate. As we talked it out, though, we thought it would be most effective if we "gathered" first, decide as a group the directions we wanted to take, and then go from there. In the future, I envision several virtual meetups - to discuss all of these issues (including tagging standards).
I think of it as a later step. In many cases, we must introduce the familiar first. The most familiar to most folks is the telephone. The first step is Skype then. Then podcasts (like radio people have heard). Then webcasts (live talk radio or call-in shows). Then a community like a blog. I would introduce the Ning communities after these scaffolded steps. We are all about facilitating teachers in teaching using the tools, not scaring them away or putting up walls.
Since I graduated I've been searching for that special something to keep my brain up to date with what is happening in education. Although, I've read journals and articles, there is a limited number of people who I can connect to in the real world to bounce educational ideas off of. I am grateful to Steve Hargadon and others, for creating networks for teachers to connect and share with one another, to enhance our professional development. I'm equally grateful for the technology that is now available for teachers to access from the classroom to keep us connected to the outside world. I feel it is up to educators and technology in the classroom to make and keep the world globally flat, to educate the masses so they can connect and appreciate each other. I enjoy the interactions too. The probability of me connecting to you on a regular basis would normally be slim or none. Between classroom 2.0, edtalk, ning, tappedin, and even twitter. I've made so many wonderful connections, that I am eternally grateful for the discussions, interactions and friendships that I've made in cyberspace. :)
I echo your comments entirely. Isn't it a far richer experience of sharing with other teachers than most of us get in our daily careers? And then we can model to students how to leverage the Internet to build their own mature connections.
Forging and extending our connections. It is a good action plan...use the tools to cement the relationships, the skills, & the strategies. Invite others, one by one when necessary (and for me it seems it is), and provide a tour of the technology without overwhelming the newcomer. Who has something to add, refute, validate?
I have the feeling that newcomers will sort themselves out, and hopefully will get something out the conversations. That's what keeps a community going, new blood coming in and being welcomed, overwhelmed for a while, then getting their feet wet and becoming a veteran themselves.