Some random reflections and thoughts from Building Learning Communities Day 1:

–In a lot of ways, I can’t believe this is my fourth BLC conference, and if nothing else, the one thing that really stands out is that there is very extensive intellectual (if not practical) understanding of the Read/Write Web as compared to my first year here when a lot of people looked at me funny as I talked about blogs and RSS and the like. Yesterday at a session that Tim Tyson was running about leadership, just about everyone said they wanted to learn more about Web 2.0 stuff, and in a weird way, it was a moment of some validation. Another signal that the train has left the station. But still, the fact that I am still doing a lot of talking on an introductory level speaks volumes, especially about RSS.

–Although the conference has doubled in size this year, from 300 to over 600, it so far has retained its feeling of intimacy. And I just never go to conferences where there are so many people from outside the US. One really funny moment today was sitting down for lunch with a contingent from Northern Ireland and asking them what they thought of the workshops and presentations. They all said they hadn’t learned a thing, and they were serious. It seems they’ve been talking about this stuff for a long time over there. After a little prodding, they admitted their thinking was getting tweaked, but it was fascinating to listen to them talk about the ways in which they were already rethinking their schools.

–There is one technology director here who brought two kids from his school to attend the conference. What a concept. Can you imagine a conference where really high level ideas about schools and education were being discussed where there were just as many students in the rooms and in the discussions as adults? Whoa.

–For some reason, I decided to get pretty edgy in my “New Literacies” presentation and I basically started by saying the whole concept of having people get up and give a presentation at conferences like this is really becoming ironic amidst all of this talk about conversation and collaboration. And so it was nice in that about 15 minutes of the hour (at least) was taken up with discussion. While Tim’s keynote this morning made plain the power of publishing, I wanted to push past the feeling that the product was the end of the process, and I tried to move the concept of what we can do now into the realm of building sustained, trusted, relevant, safe learning communities and networks in which the products nurture the conversation and the learning. That creating and sharing a movie or a podcast or blog post is important, but it is the connections we make around those artifacts, the discussions and interactions that surround them from the community where the most powerful learning takes place. It’s where the “meta” stuff happens, where the true potential lies.

Ewan McIntosh is a rock star. Plain and simple. “The Italian mafia makes you an offer you can’t refuse. The Scottish mafia makes you an offer you can’t understand.” Priceless. David Jakes and Dean Shareski came back from Ewan’s second session awestruck, and I was truly sorry I was presenting opposite. (That is one of the personal frustrations of this conference…so much I want to learn and see.) Waiting for Jakes to post the “Chat Cast.”

–For reasons yet unclear, I am falling more in like with Twitter. Oy. Jakes put up a reflection on his blog that really resonated.

With Twitter and Skype, I have access to immediacy. My aggregator and my network (18 people I follow, 80 who follow me) are more asynchronous, and not as immediate. I need both types of networks.


–I found this quote this morning via Stephen Downes and used it in my presentation.

 “We have been seduced by our inability to imagine ourselves as superfluous to student learning.”

Now I’m serious…that wins the “Best Sentence in a Blog Post of 2007” award (so far at least.) Amen. Amen

–Warning: We’re all heading downtown tonight…Tweets ahead.

(Photo “chatcast” by jutecht.)

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