If you’re a regular reader of this blog and are accustomed to seeing it first thing in the morning, my apologies. Yesterday was the grand finale of the OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Conference and then get away time to head back to Essex County. Four hours later, and I’m horizontal! I wake this morning to a dog who is complaining that he hasn’t had a long walk for so long that he can’t remember so creature comforts take precedence over my keyboard!
It’s considerably later in the morning and I’m getting a chance to reflect on the events of yesterday. The third day of the OTF Conference was the Minds on Media event. It’s a truly unique event for technology professional development. The agenda is driven by the participants and a group of facilitators are there to help fill in the blanks that may be there with folks’ understanding of various technologies and pedagogies. I think any of us who use technology have gone through the workshop style of delivery to professional development. It’s quick; it’s efficient and you walk away hopefully learning what the facilitator wants you to learn. Minds on Media turns the PD upside down and forces the participant to reflect and wonder about what they need to know and then they search out assistance for it.
As a facilitator, the day was so hectic. Half the group spent either the morning or the afternoon with Will Richardson and Garfield Gini-Newman. I’ll be honest, except for sneaking away from my station for a moment to stick my head in and say good morning to Will, I have no idea what they were doing. I just know that the facilitators in the main ballroom were working our tails off!
Overnight, the ballroom had morphed from a presentation style format to a working format. Stations throughout the room offered folks who knew their content area inside and out and were ready to help.
This is what it looks like… (grin)
Thanks, Shay’s Story Garden
…except that nobody got a chance to put their feet up.
It’s tough to describe just what it looks like or works like but the description at the Minds on Media website tries its best. We’ve offered this format in a number of settings with a slightly different configuration but it’s an idea that truly works. The onus is not on the facilitator but rather on the participants to drive the agenda. The facilitators are just there to help. This time around, the following stations were offered:
- Creating Together – Andy Forgrave
- Express Yourself – Jaclyn Calder
- Creating and Nurturing your Personal Learning Network – Johanna Lawler and me
- Creating Stories – Kent Manning
- Social Bookmarking – Jamie Weir
- Thinking Deeply – Kat Goodale
- Writing and Reflecting – Danika Barker
- Streaming Media – Michelle Campbell
In addition to these stations, Brenda Sherry and Peter Skillen served as Pedagogistas and worked the audience assisting where possible and resolving those silly little situations like loss of connectivity. Having done a number of these, I personally like the concept of a couple of people at my station so that we can really differentiate and address the needs of those who dropped by. This time, I was fortunate enough to be partnered with Johanna Lawler, an acknowledged leader in understanding and using information and knowledge in her job as a Teacher-Librarian Coach.
When you serve as a facilitator in this environment, you need to be able to field questions from so many different angles and it’s a nice challenge to try and meet people’s needs, desires, and wants. So, it was with great interest when two ladies in a row sat next to me and shared that they weren’t prepared to be “out there” and wondered how anyone could use these connections effectively. Now, I was using my Windows computer having just upgraded to Macintosh Lion and having my problems with my Macintosh as a result, and I shared some of the educational and professional reasons that all educators should know about. We then got into a discussion about news and I’m so glad that I’ve learned about the “State of Now” from Jeff Pulver. I got into a discussion of how news gets to consumers using traditional channels and compared it to how Twitter can be more efficient. I flipped to Twitscope and the topics that were trending and noticed that Norway was trending heavily. A quick flip to the Twitter feed from National Post and we were researching the latest about the horrible events from there. We just sat there dumbfounded with our eyes and mouths open as we looked at the imagery.
That was but one moment that sprang from our station. I did sneak away from our station to at least say hi to Kent and Jamie and have a neat Computer Science discussion about programming for portable devices with Kat but otherwise it was a non-stop day that literally just flew by and it was time to join the others parked on the Gardiner Expressway. My learning wasn’t over then; I learned so much about libraries and information literacies and other things talking with Johanna on the way home. It was a long day but a terrific day of learning.
You can join in the experiences of everyone who tweeted at the hashtag #OTF21C.
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