Final thoughts on Learning 2.0 in Shanghai

It’s been two days now since the conference ended and I have purposefully not posted my last reactions to the conference to allow my brain time to soak up, rearrange, and make sense of what just happened.

The most important aspect that I think came out of this conference was the formation of a community. The presenters where great, but the ning site itself is where I believe the lasting collaboration and communication will take place. As I’ve been hanging out with Will, Wes and Sheryl these past two days (and now maybe longer do to Typhoon Wipha), it has brought home even more what a community can do. Why are Wes, Will, and Sheryl here? Because of the connections created in this hyperlinked, self organizing, out of control, chaos we call the web. Somehow through all that we make connections, lasting connections that lead to virtual relationships, that lead to sipping wine with Will, Wes, and Sheryl last night in Xin Tan Di.

My last post I asked the question what makes a conference successful…and personally I think I would say that it allows you to create learning connections. Connections that last beyond the conference. Not so much the stuff you learn, the sessions you attend, although that’s great, but the connections you make and the conversations that are started. Virtual connections enhance face to face connections and vis versa. At NECC 06 I didn’t make these connections. At NECC 07 I did in the Bloggers Cafe and those connections that I had made virtually before the conference were enhanced face to face…and those I met face to face at the conference have been enhanced from the virtual connections that have continued afterwards.

So with that in mind we’ve started something special here at the Learning 2.0 conference. We’ve created an atmosphere for those who met face to face to continue that conversation of learning via the ning site. We have created an opportunity to create learning connections and now I need to find a way to keep those connections growing.

One thing I was discussing with Will this morning was that by creating an open community we will never really know where the impact of this conference ends. There is a forum for every presentation, participants were encouraged to write their notes as replies to forum sessions to create a lasting, open, body of knowledge that will live on forever (depending on what happens to ning).

This morning as I was thinking about all of this I created the following visualization of the connections the ning site has created.

The conference ning site is the green dot in the upper right corner with all those lines coming off of it. That’s our community that has just formed, but also take a second to study where these other connections come from, and who else was/is affected by what happened at the conference. It will be interesting to take this same picture a month from now to see how that information has continued to spread. This all just from the ning site and does not take into account the 200+ people that were affected via the twitter feeds.

So what makes a conference successful? Not just connections, but connections that have a lasting impact on the individual. Whether that impacts that person or their students…the connections that are formed and fostered from a conference is how I judge the success of a conference.

Through those connections we learn, we grow, we push both ourselves and each other. Belonging to a professional learning community is an amazing personal professional development. Start a blog, set up an RSS reader, stay active on the ning site and I promise you will learn more through that network in a short amount of time then you have in the rest of your schooling. Will, Wes, Sheryl and I all agree on that one aspect. That this personalize network we all create for ourselves is very powerful. You have to start with you. Make it personal, make it worth while and be a learner.


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