Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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There are those moments in life when you get put in your place. Times like on Saturday when I found myself sitting in a programing presentation at BarCamp Bangkok where they were talking about

and other things that just went over my head.

Let’s put it this way. If you think Ruby on Rails sounds more like a movie than a programing language you’d be as lost as was I.

This was my first BarCamp and I really enjoyed the format. Basically it’s a huge unconference that goes like this.

9am: If you have something you would like to discuss or present put it on a piece of paper on the wall.

9 – 11am: Everyone walks around and votes for the discussions or presentations they would like to see.

11am: Those presentations with the most votes get places on the schedule for the day.

11:30am: Let the presentations/discussions begin!

What makes a BarCamp work is that everyone comes with something to share and something to learn. You pull from everyone’s experiences. At a conference were I felt way out of my league I was still able to offer a couple presentations on building Tribes (based on Seth Godin’s work) to learn and how to make presentations people will remember, (pulling from Presentation Zen) it seemed to be a hit.

But the real reason you go to any conference now a days is to connect with people. This was my first opportunity to really connect with the geeker side of Bangkok and that I did.

My favorite connection of the conference came while eating lunch and I was lucky enough to find a seat next to Kara. She had moved to Bangkok just this February from San Fransico after being laid-off by Linden Labs. Yes, the same Linden Labs that created Second Life.

Kara sold everything she had in San Francisco and came to Bangkok to travel. Running low on money she needed to find a way to use her marketing background…and found her niche in Second Life. She opened up a clothing store in Second Life (Second Life Link) and now makes enough money to live a nice life in Bangkok while traveling Asia. She has a Tribe of about 800 people. Second Lifer’s who love her virtual clothing line. She was at BarCamp looking for programmers and to make connections as she expands her Second Life business.

I asked her if she had ever thought of starting a “real” clothing line as there is plenty of opportunity to do so here in Asia to which she replied:

“I’d rather manage bytes than atoms”

She went on to explain that bytes are much easier to manage. There is no supply chain, no people, no contacts to worry about. There is just you and your customers.

“I work 10 hours a week and make enough money to live a nice life in Bangkok.”

Not bad for someone who just got laid off 6 months ago. This is what I love about down economies. Not that there is much to love about them, but that it challenges us to become creative. It makes us think deeper and different then we’ve thought before which bring about new ways of learning, living, and thinking. It’s no fluke that the Web 2.0 generation of tools started at the same time the web industry started to recover from the Tech Bubble of the late 90’s. All that new thinking waiting there for money, and look were it’s taken us. I so can’t wait to see what comes out of this latest down turn. Once we do recover I think we’ll find ourselves in a whole new global society.

Yes we try and make the Learning 2.008 Educational Technology conference a little different each year. We don’t just talk about changing the was we teach and learn, we try and model it as well. We don’t always succeed but it’s about taking risks and pushing ourselves as educators. We can not expect educators to go to a conference where we tell them that they need to take risks, learn something new, and reflect without us as conference organizers doing the same.

We continue to try and do that sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding. We’ve already learned a lot this year about the hassle of trying to accept Credit Card payments. It’s not as easy as one might think and then put China on top of it and…well…let’s just say we took a risk and this time it didn’t pay off. But we learned something! We learned that Pay Pal is not the answer and that if we do continue the conference in the future we’ll have to rethink some things.

We’re also rethinking how to hold a pre-conference. With over 150 teachers (at this point) flying in from all over the world for the conference during a school week we had to think about how we best utilize time. We wanted to run a pre-conference but found that many schools and educators weren’t willing to release teachers (or didn’t want to miss time with students) for a pre-conference day or two before the actual conference. David Gran one of the main conference organizers contacted Chris Smith who owns International School Island in Second Life. Together they’ve been working to create a SLearning 2.008 Pre-Conference not only for those who will attend the conference in Shanghai, but for all of you who want to participate virtually.

Chris has created an amazing setting on International School Island in Second Life for our 3 pre-conference sessions. Below you will find the dates, times, and events. I hope you can make all three events, but I’d like to draw your attention especially to the third date, Sunday, September 14th. This event, one week before the “Real Life” conference will be an open forum for our Learning 2.008 Committee to meet and talk with participants. Note that this will be 9 PM Shanghai Time.

Dates (Sundays)

Times

  • 6:00am S.L. time (California)
  • 9:00am New York time
  • 2:00pm UK time
  • 5:00pm Dubai time
  • 8:00pm Bangkok time
  • 9:00pm Hong Kong/China time

If you are unfamiliar with Second Life, its a great opportunity to log on and give it a whirl. It’s pretty easy to get started, but you’ll need to download the program from : http://secondlife.com/ . Once you’ve downloaded the program, entering the SLurl below into your browser will take you directly to International Schools Island. If you need any help at all, contact Chris Smith or David Gran.

Venue
* International Schools Island
* SLurl http://tinyurl.com/2o44dw
* http://slurl.com/secondlife/International%20Schools%202/71/172/56

Chris has done an amazing job in organizing this, and it will be a great opportunity to participate in an online collaboration in a 3D environment. I hope you’ll join us.

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Man do I ever need this! I spend some time this weekend trying to wrap my head around everything educational that is happening in second life. The more I found, the more I read…the more I felt like life just passed me by. Am I really that far behind? So the SL Best Practices in Education International Conference is set for May 25th. I’m thinking of taking a personal day to sit at home and attend. But then again, I’ll have to look at when it starts, as the 25th to the Western Hemisphere is the 26th here making it Saturday…which would be perfect!


I feel like I should know a lot more, like I missed the boat on this one and now I’m frantically trying to catch up. Here are the resources I’ve added to my RSS Reader.

The Four Eyed Technologist
The Story of My “Second Life”

It’s a new bold world out there, and the sooner we jump in and get our feet wet the sooner we’ll be able to understand this new digital world our students are growing up in.

I hope Utes Torok and I see you there.

[tags]Second Life[/tags]

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So I’ve been in Second Life now on and off for a couple days. I decided to get in here just in case the edublogger meet up decides to have a virtual meet here while at NECC.

But I have to tell you…this is quiet incredible. I visited Will Richardson’s home today. I couldn’t find the door so I had to teleport out to another location. I spent about an hour walking around the island looking at real estate trying to figure out how to tell my wife I think it’s time for us to buy a house. 🙂

Will points to Kevin Jarrett which was a blog I added write away to my netvibes page. The latest video is awesome. I know there is power in here. I showed it to my 7th graders the other day and they wanted to create avatars right there in class. Motivation, engagement, being able to sleep while your avatar learns…of course it appeals to middle schoolers.

Also stopped by sloodle. I saw and ad for it in SL and then followed a link from Kevin’s blog. Need to do some more investigation here but just a quick glance of what sloodle can do and is doing in SL makes it very appealing as a learning environment.

I need to spend more time in here just figuring out stuff. Today I flew for the first time, teleported for the first time and haven’t been anywhere outside of the ISTE campus and Eduisland II. I’m finding it pretty easy to learn, although but still figuring out what everything does. I was having a conversation with a guy who spoke Portuguese and accidentally clicked something and got teleported back to ISTE. Now there is being rude and not listening to someone when they are talking, and then there’s just disappearing all together (sorry man!).

OK…just had to write…going back in for more learning.

[tags]second life[/tags]

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