Sitting by the Fireside

picture-3-1.jpgThe Fireside chat took place this morning for the K12 Online Conference. There was a good roll-up of attendees via the Elluminate platform, topping out at one point at about 110 people. David Warlick was on hand to answer some questions from the group, and people were firing questions at him at a rapid pace. The chat stream was like a fast-flowing river, with comment after comment after comment streaming up the screen. Sometimes I wonder how effective these really large chat streams are, as it’s so hard to have a deep discussion let alone a coherent conversation! As someone noted in the chat, it was like being ADD on steroids.

However, the opportunity to connect with a worldwide group of educators and engaging in discussion and conversation about things that we think matter was wonderful. David did well to field the diverse (and sometimes quite difficult!) questions from members of the group. I even got to throw a question to David myself.

Virtual environments like this are an interesting experience, and it was clear that it was a new experience for many there. It was great to see so many people turn up for it, take part in the event, and learn from it.

You can listen to the audio version of the chat here (53 Minutes, 17Mb)… unfortunately, Audio Hijack didn’t get both sides of the conversation all the time, so you can’t hear all of the questions being asked by the audience, but you do get the answers from David and the Moderators. Still, I’m sure you’ll get the idea!

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Spread the Love

You may have heard the story about the penny doublng every day for a month, or the grains of rice on the chessboard. These stories are based on the principle of exponential growth, and exponential growth is a really amazing thing!

You can use the same principle to spread information too. You tell a few, and they tell a few. Those few tell a few, who in turn tell a few more. Pretty soon, many know.

The organisers of the K12 Onlline Conference would like to use this principle to spread the word about the event. As you may know, the conference kicks off on October 8 with David Warlick’s preconference keynote address, delivered like all the other presentations of course… in downloadable digital format. It then has a full 2 weeks of presentations being released at regular intervals between the 15th and the 26th. See the flyer for more details.

To help spread the word, we are passing it along in the form of a meme. Here’s what you’re asked to do… simply create a blog post where you link to the flyer image in this post.

Then, list three reasons to participate based on your experience from last year or, if you didn’t attend last year, write three things you hope to gain from taking part this year. Once you’ve written your 3 things, then tag several others who will do the same thing. After you tag someone in your post, please email them to let them know so they can help spread the word. Oh, and if you really want to help spread the word, why not print yourself a copy of the flyer and leave a few around your school? Or hand them out? Or tell your colleagues at a staff meeting? Or make a mention of it in your school newsletter? Just tell people!

So, for me… 3 reasons to participate based on last year…

  1. It’s a great chance to learn about new things, or to learn about old things but see them in new ways. David Warlick’s “off the rails” example is simple and obvious, but it has really stuck with me from last year’s keynote and I’ve applied it’s principle in many ways over the past year. It’s a very powerful idea that makes a big difference to seeing what is really important in the learning process.
  2. An expanded sense of community. I now know so many more educators all over the world. We communicate and share ideas regularly. We Skype and we Tweet and we share. We have an ongoing conversation, and the learning that comes from that conversation is incredibly powerful.
  3. Last year stimulated many great ideas. Not only in me but in other teachers around me, and some of those teachers went on to do some astounding work with kids and tech. I know much of that stuff would never have happened without the influence of the conference. It was a major trigger.

There are probably other reasons, but that’s enough. So now I’m passing the meme on to these amazing teachers… All Australian and coincidentally all starting with a J.

Jess McCulloch
Jo McLeay
John Pearce
Judy O’Connell
Jason Hando

Spread the love!

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Hot off the Press!

As the 2007 K12 Online Conference gets closer, it’s time to start getting the word out to everyone about it. You may recall I blogged on it a few weeks ago, but since that time I volunteered to help out on an organising committee for the conference so I’m getting to see all the work that goes on behind the scenes of a conference like this. One of the things we’ve been working on is a printable flyer that can be copied and stuck on the noticeboards in your schools to help promote the event to your staff.

You can get a printable A4-size PDF copy of the flyer here, (or click here for a Letter sized one if you’re in the USA or Canada).

If you’re in a school, here’s what you can do to help spread the word about the event…

  • Download and print some copies of the flyer for your staff. Put them on the noticeboard. Put them in teachers’ pigeonholes (that’s inboxes for you North Americans). Leave them on the staffroom coffee table.
  • Talk about the event at a staff meeting or morning briefing. Let people know about the event. Tell them the dates. Give them a quick overview of what it’s about.
  • Encourage people to take part in the event. And of course, take part in the event yourself!

I was at a conference today with about 150 ICT integrators and most of them were unaware of the event. I did my best to change that. However, you can bet that the majority of teachers in your school also know nothing about the conference, and many of them would find it very beneficial. Even if only a handful of teachers on your staff actually take part, it could make a world of difference to them. Please encourage everyone to check it out.

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