Trying to break Skype

chatskype.pngIt’s cool to see just how our networks of connectivity are letting us find each other so easily and spontaneously, and the conversations that are evolving out of those connections.

While checking my mail tonight, my Twitter goes off. It seems that Jeff Utecht in China is hosting a chat session using something called Wiziq. A number of Twitterers are talking about it. I’m intruiged, but I didn’t have Jeff on my Twitter list so I carry on with what I was doing. More conversation tweets out about this session, and I’m following along vicariously through everyone else’s Twitters. Pretty soon I see another tweet from Kim Cofino (from Bangkok, Thailand) talking about how she’s chatting with Graham Wegner (from Adelaide, Australia) and Chrissy Hellier (from Napier, New Zealand). By this stage, I feel like the party is going on without me, so I decide to have a guess at Kim’s Skype name and do some gatecrashing. 😉

Next thing I’m in a text chat with Graham, Kim, Chrissy and Susan Sedro (Singapore). I suggest we try going to voicecall, and there is some concern over how well that will work. I suggest that we won’t know till we try it… “use it till it breaks”, I suggest.

So we move to voice on Skype, and it’s all good. Poor Graham got shafted as his computer didn’t have a microphone, so he follows along on text chat for a while. Hmm, we start to wonder how many people we can get in here before we break it? Only one way to find out…

I spot Allanah King (Nelson, New Zealand) online and drag her in to the chat (When I say I dragged her in, I don’t mean that she was unwilling at all… on a Mac you literally drag someone’s icon into the chat window to add them to the call) So now we have five.

It’s early morning in east coast USA by this time, and my friend Janet Barnstable (Oak Park, Illinois) pops up on Skype… drag her in too. Carolyn Foote (Austin, Texas) comes online, so in to the chat she goes. Sharon Peters (Montreal, Quebec) appears, and so we drag her in too. This is fun!

We still haven’t broken it, and apart from a bit of background noise and a couple of scratchy bits, Skype is holding up remarkably well. We need more!

Lisa Durff (Maryland) and Robin Ellis (Pennsylvania) appeared online and also got dragged in, although not at the same time, so the most we had online at any given moment was nine.

This was tons of fun… just being able to spontaneously pull a chat together like this is very cool. We had 10 people, from 6 countries and 5 timezones, all chatting away together. As the only male in the group I feel like we maybe need to balance the numbers up a little next time… I tried to drag Jason Hando (Sydney, Australia) in the call, but he must have been away from his computer at the time.

Thanks everyone for jumping in to the call and sharing like that. It was nice to connect some voices with some of the names I recognised. We must do it again some time.

Putting a Face to the Mind

Sorry to be picking on Kim Cofino so much lately, but she’s blogging like a woman possessed! 🙂 Kim just twittered about a post written by Struan Robertson, one of her school admin team at the school where she works in Thailand. It’s a great post Struan (who incidentally, started blogging after the Shanghai Conference on the weekend – good for you!)

Given all the talk over the last few days about connectedness and how our networks of like-thought are linking us all together globally, this paragraph really jumped out at me. For those that may not know, Kim is an American teacher who was working in Malaysia until last year and now works at an International school in Thailand. And how does a school in Thailand find talent like Kim?…

“I was also amazed at the impact of blogging. We met and hired Kim Cofino last year through blogging because we already knew how/what she thought. Are we “inventing” a new way to run our HR Dept.? We hire people because of how they think, independently of what “smart” things they write on their CVs? How could that impact international school job/recruiting fairs? Kim came up to me on Saturday at the conference and excitedly told me how Will Richardson (Weblogg-ed) wanted to meet her. Why? Because he follows her blog (Always Learning) and wanted to put a face to the mind, not a “name to the face”. How different is that? Justin and Dennis saw Jeff Utecht (The Thinking Stick) from Shanghai Amercian School and greeted him like an old friend. When I asked Justin how long they had been friends, he replied that this was the 2nd time they had met. In other words, because they read each other’s blog and know how the other thinks, they are great virtual and real-life friends. Whoa!!!”

It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. I remarked to someone today that if I was after advice on a particular educational question or issue, I would be far more likely to reach out to my network of connections – people I’ve mostly never met face to face – for an answer than I would even to my local colleagues at school. I mean, I work with nice people and I like them a lot, but none of them are as connected, as switched on, as forward thinking as the people at the other end of my networks…

I was surprised a few weeks ago when I had a phone call from a leader of a school here in Sydney who asked me if I would be willing to run some technology integration sessions for his staff. He wanted me to just come along for the day and “expand their minds” with regard to new media, Web2.0 and how technology was impacting 21st century education. Naturally, I said yes, and was really excited about it… but what floored me was when I asked him how he happened to come into contact with me… where did he get my name from? “Your blog”, he replied. Wow.

I’ve actually quit the teaching profession twice now, leaving to do other things outside of education, because there have been times when I’ve really doubted my ability as a teacher. But I keep coming back to it, certainly not because of the money, but because there is no other calling that makes as much of a difference as teaching and no other time in history where I feel it’s more important to be a part of it.

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My good friends Brian and Wendy picked me up from the IWB conference and took me to stay with them in Brisbane. They used to live in Sydney and we got to spend lots of time together, but I haven’t seen them much since they moved… so it was great to see them again.

They took me to see Riverfire, a huge fireworks spectacular on the Brisbane River. It really was pretty spectacular. I took a bunch of photos and made a little slideshow, then put it on YouTube, then linked it here. Hope you like it.

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