Had a really frustrating experience at a conference in Second Life today but am grateful for it due to the thinking it has stirred.
The session was about social networks and viral systems (no, not going to name the conference or the session or presenter, this isn’t about dissing). Because viral content spreads across channels, my first question was – what’s the tag for this session? The presenter told me to ask a conference organiser. The organiser said there was no tag. Okay, some people don’t think of this stuff – but in a session on viral marketing, gotta say I expected it.
The lecture progressed on interactivity and social networking and the instructor failed to engage with the text chat in a constructive way.
Some people in the audience complained that the text chat was distracting them and was blocking the powerpoint on effective interaction.
If you’re not laughing yet — let me explain why this is sadly funny:
- A session on interaction where interaction is discouraged and/or dismissed
- A session dealing with social networking that did not allow for cross-channel seeding via tags
- A session on social networking that compared Facebook and Second Life — two completely different tools – and made judgement calls because one was not like the other.
- People attending a session on social networking who don’t like it happening and find it distracting
- A session on social networks and viral marketing where avatars sat in chairs, faced front and the presenter did not build in any time for interaction and social networking
What if we’d gone to this session on social networking and he’d removed all the chairs and replaced them with rings or platforms with different keywords or interests and asked us to pick one, meet three people, move to two others?
What if he’d canvassed a wider variety of social networking tools, explained there are horses for courses, asked how we used them?
What if he threw out his opinion or findings or whatever they were that Second Life is NOT a valid social network because 1 million people can’t be on at once and we can’t use our real names and asked us to challenge it?
Finally, what if he’d been using a social networking tool during his lecture and invited us to interact with him there as well as in SL?
The thought process this irritation set in motion sort of hooks into a blog post I wrote a while back about people at a tech conference complaining about others who were Tweeting.
There are multiple tools available to us all – for group learning, collaboration, communication. Viral communication works best when it’s organic. And as different people are drawn to different tools or communications channels — communications jumps channels. I find out about great YouTube videos via Twitter. I find out about great web sites via me.edu.au, or Second Life, or Twitter, or Flickr or Diigo. I can start a conversation in Twitter and it will end up in Second Life or Skype.
And it’s easy to find conversations when they are tagged with keywords that would stir my interest or that are unique and shared across networks.
In creating learning modules and sessions on interaction, communication, collaboration, engaging learners — in short, all the faboo ways teaching and learning is being transformed — shouldn’t we ensure that we model those teaching and learning practices in our modules and sessions???
At two other sessions today, presenters standing in front of rows of avatars while standing on stages said we have to get rid of the sage on the stage mentality. *sigh*
Anyone – care to design a conference where PowerPoint, whiteboards, chalkboards, flip boards, butcher’s paper, videos, stages and seating that faces in one direction are outlawed? Where there are NO presenters or presentations – but facilitators in the truest sense of the word? We could do it in Second Life — I can get us some free space. We could do simultaneous sessions in Skype. Maybe Elluminate.
It CAN be done. It doesn’t mean anarchy. I worked with Jo Kay and the Jokaydians last year to lead educators through tours of Second Life that taught them a helluva lot more than any PowerPoint could have. Jo shows, tells and offers opportunities to get hands one. A role model.
Frankie Forsyth of Pelion Consulting, a consutlant from Tasmania, facilitated sessions for educators that drew information out of the participants in a structured way to achieve a common goal using an online classroom. She introduces research summaries, has questions where participants write out free form replies and then presents all the answers given and leads discussion. She’s another of my role models. Because she takes it out of theory and puts it into practice.
I attended an Elluminate session on Friday sponsored by Edublogs on how to engage audiences using interactive tools and guess what? The presenter used interactive tools and we interacted and fed back what we thought and how we could use those techniques in our own sessions! Wow! Another role model!
So — are you a role model?
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