Over-Underwhelmed – TLit – 2007

I have received some offline comments about this post and I’m stewing about them. I have thought about whether I should pull it but I’m going to try and make some adjustments to make myself more clearly understood. The adjustments will be in italics.

I had three days of conferencing this week. I can tell I have spent my year not working to a clock. As a student, I have been able to work my day around the rhythm of my children’s school day. I am a regimented sort so it hasn’t been very loose as schedules go. But it hasn’t been 9-5 daily. Three days inside from 8-4 or 8am-10pm and I am overwhelmed, mostly by the quantity of the information and interaction. I think I may now have a slight understanding of the autistic experience.

I was very pleased to meet some of my online colleagues – Donna, Kelly and Doug were the highlights of my three days. In talking with Kelly, I realized why the content of the three days was a little underwhelming. I have seen and heard this conversation here in the blogosphere. A conference is behind the wave. The question is behind the wave for whom? Behind the wave for the less than 10% of the teaching community online. The conferences were both still very much in front of the wave for most of the school and teaching community and on top of the wave for others. It’s good for F2F but it doesn’t teach you the latest and greatest and most practical. That’s what I’m here for. PD for me is changing, no it has changed. I’m not going to expect a conference to be the highlight of my year anymore.

One of my TL colleagues was overwhelmed by Donna’s overview of TL 2.0. She said, I do not want to spend an hour a day on the internet looking at blogs. I understand the response because she doesn’t know yet what she is missing and it does take time to get into the swing of things. This is a feeling I understand. I look ahead to when I’m back in the real swing of things and I wonder how I will balance the need to have things ready for tomorrow with the need to know the latest and greatest. I have blogged about this in a different vein in the past. How do we know which technologies, which tools to pour heart and soul and time into and which to let pass us by? Right now I’m missing the Second Life thing. Doug Noon has helped me to get a little perspective on this.

After awhile reading feeds and blogging doesn’t take much time and the time is so enjoyable and worthwhile it doesn’t seem to matter. But it takes time to get there and who in the field can manage it on top of the rest of what is being done when what is being done is also important. Ian Jakes talked about what he calls, TWWHADI (The way we have always done it) and it’s influence on culture overall and schools in particular and our need to change. After his presentation, I was talking to some TL colleagues and trying to convey some of the need to hang on to things from the past in schools, as portrayed by Neil Postman and summarized in this review (thanks again Doug N). She said something to the effect but were too stuck and that is exactly the push and pull. Not enough change, yet which changes. Doug Johnson mentioned some of these challenges in his presentation at the SSLA conference. In some ways what he said was captured for me in one of his observations about the difference between TLs and IT people – IT people say “Cool, I want one of those”, TLs say “What’s it good for and how will it benefit things?” I think we need both of those. Some teachers saying – “Cool” and jumping in and others saying, “For what?” and holding back. The question is where is the current balance in our schools?

No looking back  Note for readers:  I had a chance to chat with the TL who said, ‘Who has time?” and felt overwhelmed.  She has set up a start page and is reading some feeds.  She is excited about the potential AND she is planning to do some podcasting with her students.  Overwhelmed but not lacking in courage and perseverance wouldn’t you say!  I hope I can have the same response when I get back to the messy real world!



Filed under blogging, education, edutech, learning, personal, teacher training, web 2.0

5 responses to “Over-Underwhelmed – TLit – 2007

  1. It was great to meet up f2f and talk. Would like to have a few hours just to talk about some of the things that are going on. I agree that the conference was a bit behind. We’ve been seeking while many have been quietly going on with their business unaware of what is going on at the fringes. It will come and, I’m afraid, be like a wildfire that will sweep through education just because so much is happening around us without it seeming to make any impact inside. PD no longer requires us to leave our houses or families and spend time in a conference center if we don’t want. My experience with online conferences has been great – probably far better than the two days. So, for the person who doesn’t want to spend an hour on the RSS, how do we who are already doing this show others that instead of it being a waste of time it is a great use of time, far better than what I experienced at most of the conference. How do we, those who are doing this, demonstrate that there is a wealth of experts out there, just waiting to be read?
    Again, great to meet you! Have a great weekend.

  2. Hi Susan,

    It was a genuine pleasure to meet you, however briefly. Like the previous comment writer, I was hoping to have a chance to sit and visit for a bit. These events pass too quickly. I really enjoyed the T-Ls and others in my sessions – a terrific group.

    Were you surprised to find you had “blog groupies” at the conference? You do, you know!

    All the very best,


  3. I suppose, Kelly, that if we keep bringing ideas from the things we find in RSS to the attention to the people who aren’t out there, maybe they’ll start to ask, “So where do you find this good stuff?” I hope that would be the case.

    I was delighted, Doug, to meet Donna D. I don’t know if I’d call her a groupie, maybe I have undue bias against the word ‘groupie’. ‘Groupie’ to me is a screaming bunch of followers with fluff between their ears and not enough profitable to do. That said, it was a wonderful feeling to meet in person, a few of the people who have been influencing my practice and engaging in the conversation. I wish I had been able to run into Dean Shareski, he was at the TLit conference and is doing some leading in the field.

    Maybe F2F conferences will need to change in the light of Web 2.0. More time for conversation and input from the attendees and less sage on the stage. Hmm, that sounds like how I think classrooms need to change, not surprising but it maybe an even harder venue to change.

    A conference where the attendees link up via a wiki and plan for sessions on the fly…

  4. Pingback: Conference Musings at The Illuminated Dragon

  5. Donna Desroches

    Hey Susan,

    If being groupie means admiring the quality and authenticity of your writing so be it…

    I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet and I greatly enjoyed our f2f conversations.

    I agree with the comments you and Kelly have made about RSS and online professional development. I must admit the Online Connectivism Conference and a Web 2.0 policy webinair with Doug Johnson were exceptionally beneficial and I didn’t have to leave my desk! As Kelly asks how do we convince others that taking the time to read the experts can be equally as good as attending a conference.

    I also agree with what you have to say about changing the nature of conferences to allow for more conversation and the opportunity to learn from each other and not just from the experts.

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