I really can’t do the event justice with a blog post … I think in a lot of ways without being at the second annual Learning Design Summer Camp you missed the energy that made panels and sessions so exciting. I feel like I have to say something that is a bit more tangible than the thousands of tweets that were flying around over the course of the last two days. Put simply the event exceeded my expectations and made me once again really appreciate the community I am working in. I think I am blessed that I can hang out with 130 really interesting and motivated people right here at PSU. As I sat there it dawned on me that we’d have a hard time providing this type of professional development to two of our staff for the cost of this event. When times are as tight as they are, the ability to lean on and leverage the smart people locally can make a huge difference. This was true of when we brought CogDog to campus and it was certainly true for Camp.So what are the big takeaways for me? I’ll try to share a couple of thoughts.
First is that we are living through a radical time of change as it relates to sharing thoughts, conversations, and attention. A few years ago I would have been able to watch a decent number of people at an event like ldsc live blogging. Now that doesn’t seem to exist. What I observe is the rise of real time mediated conversations via Twitter. So much so that I am beginning to become a little concerned about it. I’m not concerned about the use of Twitter per se, I am a little concerned that more thoughtful and reflective posts aren’t getting created. There was so much great stuff going on in the backchannel yesterday, but what I am now missing are longer posts with more reflective thought. Where did it all go and what do thousands of Tweets add up to without the context of the moment. What I should do is take the videos of presentations and work to overlay the Tweets associated with each. That would be interesting on a couple of levels. First it would give people a sense of what the audience found interesting. And it would also provide a bit of meaning to an otherwise empty archived conversation that happened in mini sound bites. I may try to pull something like that off.
What else? Let’s see … live music at a University sponsored event rocks. We were lucky to have Dean Blackstock play a couple of sets on day one — totally set the mood for what we were doing. I’ve wanted to have music at one of my events since first hanging out with Music faculty, Steven Hopkins, several years ago. Just the thought of listening to great music while getting set to engage in some serious conversations has always seemed right. Dean did not disappoint! It got everyone moving and ready to participate right from the get go.
Returning to the backchannel, I noticed much less verbal participation this year. The use of the Berkman Center’s Live Question Tool certainly brought thoughts from the back to the front it, along with Twitter, caused people to clam up a bit. We got some decent dialogue going towards the end of a couple sessions, but for the most part it was a fairly quiet room. Again, this is something I want to keep my eye on — does backchannel limit verbal dialogue? One might say conversation is conversation, but it can be a bit disconcerting to the people in the front of the room.
I’ll remember this event for all the stuff that went on outside the official sessions — the Tuesday night dinners around town were awesome, the 5K run/walk/bike was a great addition, and the t-shirts and other items from Cafe Press were killer. I’ll also remember this event as the place where I saw lots of major ah-ha moments related to the Blogs at Penn State as a platform. We had demos of eLearning courses, thin repositories, geo tag spaces, websites, ePortfolios, and much more … I think the idea that the blog is so much more than a blog hit home this time. It is perfect timing as I just returned from a west coast trip where I met with the brilliant people at SixApart. I was able to say with confidence that we are doing some very special things with our Movable Type platform. I think people see that each space they create can be anything they want it to be … that it is essentially an application development platform that they can do nearly anything with. That is exciting to see.
All in all I want to thank everyone who participated and planned the event. It was truly an exceptional way to spend two days.