I don't like Learning Alone!

I’m back from the ETC (EARCOS Teacher’s Conference) in Kota Kinabalua, Malaysia. Where I did four presentations as well as watched Kim Cofino pack them in for her Connecting Across Continents presentation. It’s the first conference that I’ve gone to where I truly did not “do” the conference. Other than my own four presentations I only went to two others….one if you don’t count Kim’s. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around why I didn’t feel motivated to go to more sessions. I like learning so what was my problem? Then it hit me…..I don’t like learning alone! The Internet was horrible…when it did work at the conference, and I found myself disconnected from my friends colleagues and my network of learners. Learning for me needs to be social. I need to be able to live blog a session, to Ustream a session or have a back channel chat going with others in the room. Without that….a presentation is rather boring. So boring in fact, that I couldn’t motivate myself to even go to a session. Learning for me happens in these social spaces. It happens when I’m able to listen, reflect, and connect with others near and far in the moment. I’m so use to this anymore that regular old sit and get learning just isn’t the same. And then I started thinking about our students. Our students who spend there day not just in front of screens but connecting with people, learning in the moment and creating content. I thought that maybe it was just me…but then this new study from the Nielsen Company was just released this week showing amoung other things that adults are spending 8+ hours a day in front of screens (via nytimes): Among other surprises, the research found that young people aren’t theonly ones dividing their attention among multiple screens and machines;people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and early 50s essentially multitask forthe same amount of time. People over 55 are markedly less likely to bemultitasking. “That’s where the generation gap, if there is one, mayexist,” Mr. Bloxham said. So it’s not just me (thank goodness!). You mean I’m just like the rest of the multitaskers out there? Multitaskers who expect to be able to connect with people, content and ideas in a moments notice and who find such value in connections that without it learning becomes boring? Not that you...

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Connecting People or Connecting Content

aaahhhhh……I sit here in the open air lounge of the Magellan Resort, a soft breeze is blowing off the ocean as I over look the pool below and out across the bay to three islands. It’s gonna be a wonderful sunset tonight. I’m telling you overseas conferences are really hard….I mean it. 🙂 I’m continuing to think about the Web and how we use it to connect. Maybe this is all for nothing…but I can’t stop thinking about it. When it comes to building social networks or online communities I think it’s clear to understand what you are and who you are trying to build the site for and what you want them to do. For example I helped to build the community site for the EARCOS Teacher’s Conference I am now at. I choose to use a wiki for a couple of reasons. 1. Not everyone here is tech savvy….the tool of least resistance.2. The conference doesn’t need all of the features of say a Ning or full social network.3. Less is more. The wiki is meant to serve only one purpose really; to create an easy way for presenters to upload handouts, documents, and such to participants of their sessions. Before this year presenters would forward their handouts to EARCOS who dedicated a person to upload the documents to the conference website. The issue became of course that people would send multiple updates of their handouts creating work for someone else to manage those documents. My work around….put presenters in control of their own handouts. Using a wiki was the easier way to do this. Create a page for each presenter, give them accounts that allow them to upload, and get out of the way. So far the website is growing with over 120 members of 1100 conference goers joining the site before the conference even begins tomorrow. Not bad for something that is brand new to this conference. Of course the wiki can do much more than just hold documents….it allows people to connect to each other…or is that connect to content? In this case I believe the wiki serves the purpose to connect people to content. It is a network of users looking for, sharing, and using content created by others. Through this common content they will (hopefully) connect to people who have the same interests as them. Whether it be someone in the same...

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RSS is about content, Twitter is about people

I leave tomorrow for the EARCOS Teachers Conference (Twitter hash and web tag #ETC09) where I’ll be giving four presentations. My first one is on Networks and Communities and although my Twitter Network has pointed out to me this is not a new presentation for myself…I do feel like there is something different. I’ve pushing myself to think deeper about personal networks and online communities and I need to be clear about my message and what I believe before I step into the room…or at least clear enough so that those in the room can help me push my own thinking on the subject. Ben Grundy via Twitter helped me when we started talking about RSS vs Twitter. RSS is about finding content, Twitter is about finding people Not sure about that statement but it’s one I put out on Twitter and as I write this post is still being bounced around. Like others I find myself using Twitter for many different purposes including finding content…but I followed people first…not the content. In past presentations I have focused most of my time on using RSS Feeds for both learning and teaching and less time on Twitter. Has the time come for this to be reversed? Is the “Nearly Now” taking over the reader? More to come as I continue to think….your thoughts...

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