conVerge11 Keynote, Workshop and Reflections

I’ve been home just over a week after three great weeks in Australia, which started off with a keynote and workshop at ConVerge11 in Melbourne. (You can access all the session notes here.) The keynote was at 4pm on the first, packed day and I was asked to help encourage people to come to the cocktail reception afterwards. So I took my charge as “drive them to drink!”


My goal was to provoke some thought about how we step beyond this idea of “creating communities for learning online” and instead think about connecting for learning — across cohorts, with the outside world, with our sponsoring institutions and with ourselves. After all, we can’t simply keep joining more groups. That does not scale. When we do utilize community approaches, we also need to think about how we make them the best they can be.  So I wove in the idea of the social artist (borrowing from Wenger and Houston). I confess, I dumped a LOT on people in an hour. If they didn’t need a drink when we started, I’m sure they did when I finished!

Below are my annotated slides because, as usual, my slides make no sense on their own. First is the Slideshare deck, and below is the PDF handout which is actually easier for reading the annotations.

Workshop: Advanced Online Facilitation Practices
Friday afternoon we had a great group for the workshop. Since I dumped a million ideas on everyone the day before, my approach to the workshop was full on participatory. At the last minute I decided to run an online experiment with Google+ at the same time to both capture what we did and to bring in any outside voices from my network who happened to be awake. (Not many… it was Thanksgiving weekend in the US.) 55 comments later… Do read the comments. There is a lot of insight that people contributed and a big thanks to Evan for scribing! (most of the comments under my name are Evan capturing conversation from the room.)
I started by asking people to write their teaching and learning strengths via key words on paper, then share and talk about them with others around them — especially to move away from the people they know. Sort of unmasking the superpowers in the room.
We then went with Dave Gray’s Empathy Mapping exercise to help surface different perspectives. That generated some fantastic insights about our own teaching approaches and what we know or assume about our learners. Somehow someone asked about how to get people in a comfortable place to talk about what they think and I mentioned the Human Spectrogram. Instead of telling, we DID it!  By the time we did both of these activities the 50 minutes had disappeared, we were running five minutes late and everyone was coming in for the closing session. Poof! And ConVerge11 was history.
I also have a Tweetdoc of the Tweets I was able to capture Nancy-White-at-Converge11
All in all, it was a great re-entry into my network of teachers and learners in Australia, a well run conference and …as always, when I present, I present from my own edge to deepen my own learning.

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