October 04, 2007

Collision of cultures, or just not asking the right questions?

Every now and then, especially when it comes to technology, you can meet an apparent clashing of minds, of cultures or just a clash.

Via the Dragon, I've seen that at least one of the conference-goers didn't think there was much in the keynote I gave on Wednesday. Not much substance in it, for him. I'm glad that he has been thinking about what it means to him, although I'd have preferred to have a good face-to-face or blog-to-blog chat with him about what was missing. I want to learn, too. If he doesn't blog, then face-to-face is all we've got.

This was from a conversation overheard in a coffee queue and now Paul, the educator for whom an insight into his students' world doesn't hold enough substance, has seen his apparently private conversation put on the web.

And here, you see, is where we can all learn a lesson. In conferences it is absolutely vital that we come equipped with some questions, and an open mind to more questions on top of that. We have to question ourselves and our arguments, especially when provoked by those coming from outside our 'box', just like the Dragon has been doing. We must have conversations with fellow professionals to get to the bottom of what we believe. When we disagree with a speaker's view point, we must engage with that and see whether there is a halfway house, whether the speaker meant something else, or whether the speaker accepts that there may be something missing in there.

In this case, the question Paul may wish to pose is whether his understanding of digital and media literacy is absolutely as rock solid as he thinks it is (otherwise there would have certainly been bags of substance in the keynote for him).

When digital literacy becomes offline literacy
At a conference where scores of fellow professionals are blogging to thousands of others, where scores of individuals follow the conference in real-time from outside the venue hall, perhaps thousands of miles away around the globe, do the same rules of media literacy apply offline as online? Is there such a thing as a private conversation when there is such a good chance that interesting conversations will be captured for eternity? Is there such a thing as divine ignorance - "if I don't engage with the conversation online then it doesn't hold any value anyway, in fact, maybe it doesn't even exist"?

It's akin to kids covering their eyes and hoping that if they don't see the ogre the ogre won't see them.

ULearn07 is a great conference, and one with which I have been incredibly proud to be associated. The conversations offline as well as online have been rich, but these three days are only the very beginning. The real hard work, trying to understand the issues laid on the table, is just about to start.

Paul, if you're the kind of person who might read a blog (and I worry that you are not) then please do take up the conversation with me and the many others who do think that there is substance in them there words. Learning takes place through conversations like these, but conversations are hard to have with 1400 people at once in a keynote address. We need to use the technology to space that conversation out over time and place.

The conference isn't UTeach07, it's ULearn07. We're all teachers, for sure, but we're all learners, too. That means we have to talk.


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Immediately after attending your Keynote I was involved in the K.U.T.E (Kids Using Technology in Education) for Spotlight 1. As I spent time conversing with students and watching them teach the teachers (learners) there it was…the Dragon is right…”Its not about the tech its about the teach…the audience, the creativity, the authentic goals”.

I am feeling confident, from what I experienced, that the teachers that attended this session came from your Keynote to K.U.T.E with an open mind, they engaged with students with respect and as such the students responded. Many of these students are already connecting with audiences beyond the boundaries of their classroom walls …and I hope that the 100 or so teachers that registered to attend this spotlight will be the types of people that will "read a blog and continue to work towards better understanding the issues" you have highlighted.

As an aside, that is what I look for in a keynote, to be challenged, to ask more questions and explore issues that initiate good conversations with others over the remainder of the conference and beyond.

Kia Kaha

Is there a podcast of your presentation? I need to rehear your words...(I was a stow-away) and I found great value there-in.

Never have I personally felt this close to keynote presenters- that's the power of Web2.0, in engaging in the conversation. Time has gone where you'd here someone speak and hold that person up as unapproachable. 'I'll have a mutter and moan to the person I walking home with afterwards' attitude. That is so presentation 1.0 (or something). Now we follow their blog posts, comment and get commented on, open up the dialogue. Keynotes today are a truely two way conversation-....if you want them to be.

The great leveling effect of the interweb is that we can all engage or disengage with the conversation if and when we choose.

I've often fired off emails with questions or comments after keynotes and (touch wood) never been knocked back yet. Over the last couple of years I've had some wonderful conversations with people who have been happy to engage either privately or publically.

For the record, I really enjoyed your keynote, Ewan. Now I need to find some time to have a closer look at the links and ideas that you shared.

Ewan, I very much enjoyed your keynote at Ulearn and your 'Voxpop' challenge in your workshop - it was great to feel 'engaged' in what I was doing!
I particularly enjoyed the concept of 'digital holiday makers' as that has been my nagging thought over the past few weeks - I know now I have added to rather than changed my teaching. I am going to take Tony's advice and not throw it all out, but I am going back to school to take a serious look at the purpose of everything we do and also at how ICT ENHANCES learning rather than just changing it. Thanks for your inspiration.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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