EdCamp Book Club

June 25, 2011 § 4 Comments

I’ve noticed something in myself that I find intriguing: When I am participating in conversations on Twitter I am drawn to find a way to bring those conversations off the Internet and have them in person.

On the other hand, when I am at a conference, I find myself compelled to participate in backchannel conversation while I converse with folks face-to-face. At first I contributed this peculiarity to my “grass is greener” syndrome, but now I’m not so sure.

Earlier this spring I made an attempt to bridge my online conversations with a face-to-face meeting when Eric Hileman ( @ittosde on Twitter ) – an educator from Oklahoma whom I have never met in person – and I conceived of a face-to-face component of the weekly Twitter conversation #edchat. You can read about it here.

While #edchatf2f (“EdChat Face-to-face”) was by no means a failure, I have not given the experiment a chance to succeed. The maiden meet-up was close enough to the end of the year that very few teachers could participate, and though summer is almost upon us, I haven’t planned another gathering.

BookshelvesI read something on Twitter this morning that got me thinking about another way to bridge online conversation face-to-face conversation: a Twitter-based book club. The idea is simple: A handful of people get together and read a book together – a standard book club – but instead of meeting regularly in person, the group meets online via Twitter. This already exists.

Now take that idea, and apply to it my desire to continue online discussions in person. Suppose you time it so that the group finishes reading the book just in time for a conference that the group of readers will be attending (or most of them). Imagine it: several weeks spent reading the same book and discussing it online culminating with a face-to-face wrap up of the discussion at a conference!

With EdCamp CTfast approaching, I think I may try this experiment. If you’re interested in joining me, send me a message on Twitter (@MyTakeOnIt). I will organize a group of interested participants, we’ll pick a book and a weekly meeting time, and we will discuss the book on Twitter. We will then organize a corresponding session at EdCampCT to wrap up the book discussion and also debrief on the experience.

I think I want to start with an educationally relevant book – maybe even something about online learning or collaboration. I’m open to suggestions. We’ll work out the rest on Twitter… Maybe even bring it up at EduBloggerCon East 2011 in a few weeks… Though may need to begin sooner.



My mind is racing after #edACCESS11

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

After several years of yearning, I finally made time this year to attend the annual edACCESS conference, hosted this year by the Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. edACCESS is a national association of information technology staff at small schools and colleges, and the annual conference uses the peer conference model, developed and facilitated by edACCESS co-founder Adrian Segar and described in his book Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love, for the majority of its conference sessions.

Tom Daccord presents for edACCESS11

My colleagues and peers have been reporting back to me for years on how beneficial edACCESS is. With a style very similar to an “unconference,” the attendees are the presenters, planners, and participants. The collaborative environment speaks volumes to the personalities of the attendees: It is as important to us that we share our own ideas and experiences as it is that we learn from others.

This year, discussion sessions included many (participant-chosen) topics that spanned the educational and technological sides of EdTech. Some years a keynote speaker is invited. This year Tom Daccord of the blog EdTech Teacher spoke about a topic near and dear to my heart: steering a school’s technology decisions based on its mission and pedagogical goals.

Upon splitting up into peer sessions, we discussed topics including:
-Disaster recovery setups and power requirements
-PC and Apple coexisting
-Teacher Accountability For Use Of Technology
-Favorite iPad apps & how to find more
-Reporting structure: Do you report to the Head Master? CFO? Pros & Cons?
…and many more topics.

The audio from all of these topics is recorded, notes are scribed, and at the discretion of the members of each session, both formats are usually posted to the edACCESS wiki.

I can’t put too fine a point on how valuable it is to get peers and colleagues together, supporting each other, and collaboratively learning and working out our problems. It’s incredibly active learning, and even after the conference my mind continues to race with new strategies I can’t wait to test out, and new ideas that rush through my mind, unable (and unwilling!) to turn down the spigot.

It was a pleasure to participate: learning from my peers, and facilitating when appropriate. For me, edACCESS11 has not truly ended. I have extended my Personal Learning Network, I have made new friends, and I plan to continue these rich conversation year-long. Plus, I have edACCESS 2012 to look forward to!

Thank you to everyone involved at edACCESS – it was a pleasure and a valuable experience!


p.s. Thank you, Steve, for encouraging me to go this year!

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