4 Lessons from the 3rd Webstitute

Cropped bookWebstitute #3 at the English Companion Ning closed earlier in the evening; I thought I’d catch a few thoughts in writing before they drifted away forever. Here are four that come to mind first:

Lesson #1
Check the tech!  Need I say more? Well, one addition to my post from the other day. I think the best learning in tech situations comes from posing a potential problem or asking oneself a question, like “If someone in the Adobe room wants to speak in the meeting, what do they need to do?” The easiest way to answer it? Have a practice session where you take on a participant  role and raise your hand to speak. I learned that for participants, there was a step involved that we wouldn’t have imagined. Good thing we practiced.

Lesson #2 is a corollary of #1. Go with the flow.
Our final session took place in an Adobe Connection meeting room. We wanted it to be an experiment; we wanted folks to play with turning on a webcam, speaking to the assembled folks via mic. I think I assumed we’d have many people doing so— after all, our whole Webstitute took place on a new platform with little time to practice. We just went with it. That’s why I didn’t do my homework for the session, which was to have a stack of books by my side in the event of Great Silence in the audio portion of the session. But I forgot that sometimes, for others, there may be a steeper learning curve than I experienced or remember. That meant I ran up upstairs a couple of times to grab books to add to the discussion. That piece of learning also came up in our brief debriefing—our ECNing colleagues seemed to enjoy the camaraderie of the chat room, so why not have some Adobe discussions where people can come in and practice their tech immersion while talking about something they care about? Stay tuned for news about that.

Lesson #3
The power of social media isn’t in the social media platform or venue. It’s in the people who come into a social meeting venue and put something of themselves into whatever that arena may be: an anecdote, a really good question, information, etc. They also take something away. This, I think, is the give and take of being human, together. It’s what social media sites make possible.

I should add that I’m basing my comments on my experience with educators in online spaces including blogs, Twitter, Google +, the English Companion Ning, etc. The teachers I meet are dedicated to kids and their profession, in ways that stockbrokers and car mechanics could never be called to be. So what makes so many educators come to these sites, especially the Ning,  to give so generously, to listen sincerely, and to take away ideas that can make their professional lives run more smoothly?

Maybe it’s the intensity of this time in educational history, with the 2.0 world crashing into the good ‘ole fashioned notions of what “educated” means. Maybe it’s that teaching can be lonely—just you and a new group of 35 teenagers every hour all day long. Whatever the reason, there are some fine educators roaming the web, and a lot of them were part of the third Webstitute of the EC Ning.

Lesson #4
I reaffirmed my motivation to be involved in the behind-the-scenes of a Webstitute. We teachers  can create the professional development we need. In our case, it takes place in a webinar on the EC Ning. It’s also happening in teacher-designed and run edcamps and unconferences springing up across the nation. You may want to read: Introduction to Edcamp: A New Conference Model Built on Collaboration by Mary Beth Hertz.

Now I have to head back to creating videos of the sessions that can be posted to the Ning. See you there!

One response to “4 Lessons from the 3rd Webstitute”

  1. How did you have the fortitude to write a blog post after the intensity of those two day? Just another reason you’re amazing. I’m writing a post too, but it’s still baking in my head.

    Your post here reminds that it’s OK if people (like teachers, like students) learn different things from the activities we design and share. Some people had tech-related revelations from the webstitute, some learned content and methodology, some learned about networking and collegiality. That’s all good stuff.

    I work in an environment with poorly conceived, poorly designed, poorly delivered professional development. It’s toxic. But this week 200+ educators voluntarily participated in and created a true professional development experience. Thanks, Karen. Mwah.

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