5 Chinese Takeaways

Chinese Takeaways No, I’m not talking about culinary delights this time (though I had plenty of those). I’m referring to the ideas that have stayed with me following the Learning 2.010 Conference in Shanghai.

1. Connecting with people maketh the conference.

I have blogged about the importance of people at conferences before, but each time I get to meet someone face-to-face that I have connected with online, it’s a hugely meaningful for me. A highlight was videoing a dance with 15 other Twitter friends for the PLN Project – an educational version of the famous YouTube clip of Matt Dancing. I can’t wait to share the result with you when it’s ready…

2. The Great Firewall of China isn’t fun at all

I really felt as if I was being treated like a child with the imposed restrictions on Social Networking sites like Twitter, Facebook & YouTube. It made me appreciate the openness of Singapore generally, and my school in particular. I learned how to work a VPN, and the $10.95 I paid for Astrill was money well spent, as far as I am concerned!

3. I miss singing

Learning 2.010 gave me the opportunity to meet a musical Twitter friend – Leslie (@onepercentyello) – and have a ukulele jam session with her the rest of our crowd (who suffered through it, largely without complaint!). Man I had a good time! It reminded me of Christmases with our family, as everyone picks up an instrument of some description & belts out some tunes.

I have resolved to do more singing. Now I need to find a piano tuner…

4. A relaxed approach to conferences isn’t right for everybody, but it IS right for me.

I loved the structure of the cohorts – a group of people interested in a specific idea, combined with the informality of the unconference sessions. It was nice to have a balance between attending sessions to enhance my own learning, and offering unconferences to help someone else’s learning. It’s not the old model of going to a conference to get your cup filled.

I know that for some, this model of conference was a little loose. They wanted to hear from the ‘big names’ that were brought in. Although I confess to missing the cohesiveness a Keynote at the beginning and end of the conference brings, I also knew that I was free to go up to anyone I wanted to learn more from and find a time to have a chat with them. All of the cohort leaders were approachable and friendly – a great bunch!

I enjoyed Chris Betcher’s excellent blog post about Learning 2.010, describing it as UNorganised rather than DISorganised.

5. Now is the time to think about the Future of Learning

My cohort was led by two great people: Kim Cofino & Darren Kuropatwa. The wiki they prepared for us can be found here, and you can see how they took us through the essential questions:

  • What could (should) learning look like in the future?
  • How can we begin to embrace the future, today?

It’s difficult to prepare for an unknown future, but if we don’t try to stay current, then bridging the gap will be too difficult. My group (comprised of Mary van der Heijden, Craig Coutts, Clint Hamada & myself) identified a number of areas that we thought teachers needed a level of familiarity and fluency with. We believe the future of learning will:

  • Be networked & collaborative
  • Be non-linear
  • Be always available
  • Involve cloud computing
  • Increasingly use Gaming
  • Focus on Creation (not just consumption)
  • Involve a portfolio of work
  • Involve the development of a digital footprint to be proud of

Here’s the presentation our group came up with during our cohort time (presentation notes visible if you download it).

Bridging the Gap – The Future of Learning

View more presentations from Clint Hamada.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Learning 2.010, and sincerely hope to attend the next one, wherever it may be.
I would like to thank all the lovely people I met and/or caught up with in Shanghai for making my time there so worthwhile. I had a blast!

Image credit: Scott Waldron www.dslrninja.com

5 thoughts on “5 Chinese Takeaways

  1. Our response here was similar. I loved the more relaxed approach. Some of my teachers were much less comfortable with it. Interestingly, most loved the unconferences. Despite them being unconference session, I think they felt more like the EARCOS model they are used to attending. I wonder how I could have better prepared them for the cohort part. I think most are not used to being asked to do more than consume at a conference. Big paradigm shift needed.


  2. I’m with you, KL, it’s all about the people. I think that’s also what made the unstructured format of the conference so engaging for people that already feel a connection to the other participants. We had a huge benefit in that we were already learning and sharing together on a regular basis.

    What if all conferences were like that for all participants all the time. The ability to reference back to ideas shared on Twitter or blogs prior to the conference and to make connections to other shared experiences definitely helps solidify new learning. And of course, we already have a built in support group. It just makes the whole experience so much more powerful.

    Thank you so much for the amazing presentation your team shared in our cohort. You guys were totally on the money the whole time and referencing all the resources like it was a university paper! You are the future of learning!

    And you have a stunning singing voice! Get back in the habit, baby!


  3. @Susan – I think you’re right – people ARE used to going to conferences to consume rather than construct and share. It is a big paradigm shift.

    @Julie, you would have loved it!

    @Clint, let’s not forget your ability on the Kazoo!

    @Kim, Thank you for your kind words. It truly WAS fab to connect with those people I’d been chatting to online for months. I really enjoyed your session, as ever!


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