Connectivity

Last week brought a bevy of online connections which solidifies my belief in the changing way hicks97_1381845862.jpgwe need to do ‘business’.

It all started over the weekend when I sporadically followed the Learning 2.0 conference in Shanghai (now in a dynamic and ‘to-be-continued’ status, thanks to Jeff Utecht) – the Ning site was a great mashup of information and served to help me not only understand the value of social networks, but also to virtually meet educators in international schools and read the blogs and tweets of the participants and presenters – interesting to note that this was partially structured as an “unconference” too with opportunities for all to “drive” the direction of the conversation.

On Tuesday at work, I participated in the Florida Adult and Technical Distance Education Consortium board meeting via Elluminate and conference calling since our travel monies are frozen with statewide budget cuts. That evening in the comfort of my own home, I joined the DEN/EdTechConnect webinar, along with about 40 other educators, to hear Lani Ritter Hall and Darren Kuropatwa present information about the K12 Online Conference coming up in October. Using WebEx conferencing software with audio, PowerPoint and chat was not enough though, as there was at least one skype chat backchannelling and my own twittering (which btw brought in another twit to participate in the webinar!)

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The next day there was a twitter notice from CoolCatTeacher, Vicki Davis, inviting us to collaborate on the newly unveiled presentation tool in Google Docs. Though I didn’t get there to participate “live”, I ended up at checking out the published presentation at the same time as Lisa Durff. We chatted a few lines before heading off to the Women of Web 2.0 online broadcast and chat. This production was extremely active and I found myself having difficulty keeping up with various directions the chat was taking – but what an awesome group and the topics of conversation were just what I needed.

My online connection Sunday morning was welcomed with another twitter-initiated conversation – this time with the web conferencing tool WizIQ. Sadly, I missed the missed the synchronous version once again, but the hour-long impromptu discourse among educators from all over the world was recorded! I took some time to ‘eavesdrop’ and explore yet another free web-based tool that could change the way our students learn.aardvartinafieldofclover_371379645.jpg

So, what do all of these connections mean – some quick reflections:

  • It seems as if I’m working in two different worlds – kinda feel like the kids who have to leave their myspace and youtube and cell phones, etc at the school house gate – my online world of edubloggers who create, collaborate, and vision for the future and my offline colleagues who often rely on traditional, static and often antiquated resources.
  • Though I’ve always valued the asynchronous aspects of online connections, I’m beginning to better understand the necessity for ‘real time’ connections, as well. There is a need for both types in our learning environments – do we have the capacity? do we have the courage to make them a priority?
  • All of these online conversations seemed pretty comfortable to me, having experienced them over the last few years, but what about others? What about those teachers who still teach sans online communicative tools? What about students who know the tools, but not always how to use them with the appropriate ethics?
  • How do we balance the connection overload that can occur when we juggle both offline and online communication tools? And, once we look deeper at connections, how do we utilize them to truly collaborate for a common creation?

Another week underway…what will evolve as a result of these connections? I can’t wait to be a part of it all!

Photo credits to Hicks97’s 9-13-07 – Day 32, Eglantine’s Conversation,  and AardvArt in a Field of Clovers’ Conversation Heart Box

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