Before I start, I need to give a shout-out to my Mother … it is her Birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!
So, today is my first day back in the office from the Learning Design Summer Camp 2008 that happened here at PSU the last two days. It was an ambitious reach at raising the bar on our own community of learning designers. Modeled after much of what I learned while attending the Berkman at 10 event that rocked my World a while back, the LDSC08 was designed by the community for the community. I had asked months ago if when thinking about planning an event if we could just say that maybe the community is the committee and it in my mind it played out really well for us in this instance. The planning wiki was an unreal story that unfolded before our eyes … just to give an indication of the amount of activity that went on there, when I checked the feed of recent changes before heading to lunch yesterday, there had been 96 updates. 96 edits from the first AM session to lunch. It was a striking departure from most professional development activities I have been a part of on campus.
I am still plowing through our program evaluation results, but I thought I could share a handful of comments with you from the two day event (Allan has a nice recap of day one). Not that there aren’t some critical issues for us to work through, but I feel it is safe to say that the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. People seemed to really feel energized by the grassroots feel the event had. There was participation in so many forms so it is hard to say how many people actually had a hand in it, but when it is all said and done, I imagine that at least 20 different people shared the podium and dozens more contributed questions and comments from the audience. It was stunning … at any rate a couple of comments from one of the questions where we asked attendees what was the most important thing they took away from the experience:
- “Feeling as though I am part of a community that is supported, valued and willing to make changes.”
- “That an organic, community planned event is more valuable to me than a national conference far away from State College.”
- “Connections with people and resources at PSU.”
- “Made a lot of connections that are going to help in furthering my experience.”
- “Knowing that if I want to try something on a higher level, or something different, that I have the support of a lot of my peers on campus.”
- “All the engagement and participation. Was hard to take all in, but wonderful experience at the same time!”
- “New technologies to explore, widening my educational/colleague community through more connections, refining my educational philosophy and understandings, and inspiration to continue.”
- “Twitter! No, really, I think the wiki was great – having the materials there before, during, and after. And the live question tool.”
- “The use of the live question tool was really amazing. It’s like a back channel tool, but with very obvious educational applications. I submitted a question and felt proud that it was voted up and then addressed by the speakers.”
- “The community. Just knowing that such a talented pool of folks works with me at PSU is a wonderful thing for me to take away.”
- “A renewed desire and motivation to use multimedia in learning design and to open my course documents and content to my worldwide profession.”
- “The people are engaged & ready to roll!”
Notice a trend there? The notions of community and engagement were so pervasive throughout the two days that you could almost reach out and touch it. I am hopeful that what people go forward with is the complete confidence in knowing we are all a part of a much larger whole — that what we represent is the potential to produce the leading edge of learning design in higher education. That together we can actually stop the complaining and change the conversation. That when we actually share and challenge ourselves we can make a huge difference — even at a place as big and difficult as PSU. That at the end of the day we have the power and authority to make real dents in real problems.
I think the challenge going forward is truly grabbing that power and making changes with high enrollment designs, begin to work with faculty to really engage in moving forward, and make policy changes that will push the agendas items we discussed forward — open learning, open courseware, new assessment models for distributed learning environments, digital expression, portfolios, and so much more. I am more excited about being a part of this community than I ever thought possible.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this event the first of many annual events that can shape the future of our institution. Now it is time to head back to work!