Back to Zork

One of the last things that @sirias asked me at the OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Conference was how to followup and nurture the learning that was started at the event.  I like that aspect of dedication to the continuation of the learning.  But, how to do it.

It seemed to me that, if we did our jobs correctly, it wouldn’t be necessary.  After all, there was a lot of effort that went into the design and support of learning while we were onsight.  Can’t it just continue from there?  For many of those in attendance, it probably was enough.  They may have been there to enrich their learning or they might have been predisposed to self-directed learning anyway and just needed a push to get started.

But, there are a couple of scenarios that spring to mind.  First, not everyone learns and applies in the same way at the same time.  Secondly, there are always pieces of information that fall through the cracks.  Thirdly, there may be opportunities to extend the concepts further.  Fourthly, there was a great deal of new friend making and the desire to learn together might be really appealing.  Fifthly, well the list could go on and on.

How do you enable this?

Probably the first thing that comes to mind would be to use services like Adobe Connect or Elluminate.  These are very common web conferencing services that allows for a host, presenter(s), and learners.  The use of these things does make some assumptions though.  You must have a client installed on your computer or you must have the ability to install it.  With some computer setups from school boards that protect their image, that may be possible.  Success also depends on a fairly substantial internet connection.

Another option might be to use Second Life.  This was once touted as the virtual world that would really be a game changer.  You have an avatar and work your way through an online world interacting with other avatars.  You might end up on an island or in some world for learning.  At one time, I did create such an identity for myself but I’ll admit that with the limited bandwidth that I have, I never got much enjoyment from the system and my personna is stranded somewhere inside that world.

How do you provide some type of continuing environment?

We could start a wiki or a Ning or some other environment.  That’s appealing in that not all learners will be available at the same time or they may wish to review the session afterwards and a stable location would be helpful.  Another alternative that seems positive these days might be to create a Google Plus Hangout.

Then, actually as I was cutting the lawn, I wondered just what is needed.  In an ideal world, a face to face reunion would be best.  That’s not likely to happen as the costs of bringing everyone together would just be too prohibitive.  I even wondered about an OTF-up at the upcoming ECOO Conference for those who might be in attendance.

But, how can we be ensured of success?  My mind started whirring and I remembered one of my favourite games of all time — Zork.  Just to digress as I often do, you can still play it online here or here or …

Perhaps the best way to continue the learning is to return to brass tacks.  How did collaboration start at the conference?  We used Today’s Meet and then graduated to using Twitter with the hash tag OTF#21C.  These were very successful in a Zork kind of way.  It’s all text and you had to read and interpret what was happening.

Perhaps in this world with all of these tools at our fingertips, we need to use a solution that’s simple, functional, and doesn’t suck back the bandwidth.  Could it be that simple text is the answer?  Is the right tool the simplest?  Certainly, there are a lot of group and organizations that have their get togethers in this manner.  Thoughts?

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