We were very fortunate to have Sue Waters as a guest for EC&I 831 last Wednesday (March 19/08). Sue had previously written a post related to the order for closure for Al Upton’s MiniLegends classroom blog. EC&I 831 was very interested in hearing more.
We used Skype to mediate the conversation, and the result was streamed via Ustream. I noticed over 30 participants at one point, and it is clear from many related blog posts that the issue has generated much interest over several continents.
Sue did an amazing job recording the details and summarizing this conversation, including many of the the major points brought up by course participants and other Ustream guests. Check out her post here.
Also, the mp3 version of the conversation is available here. There may be a couple of anomalies with the audio due to the way it had to be lifted from Ustream. Sorry, it was mostly unavoidable.
I would also like to take this opportunity to comment on a few ‘aha’ moments I had regarding this experience, not directly related to the issues discussed, but related to the networked affordances made available through this course. This a short list of things I really like about this particular experience in terms of pedagogy.
1) The idea of the session came from Cindy, one of the course participants. After it was suggested, there were several other classmates that were excited about the idea. It is great to have students bring direction to the course, and I wish I had made this more of a common thread throughout.
2) Through Twitter and the edublogosphere, I was able to quickly contact Sue. Sue and I had already been connected through various tools, but had never had the chance to collaborate. This goes to show the importance of the network, and highlights yet another example of the generosity apparent in so many people I have connected to. This is not only apparent in Sue’s participation on the conversation, but additionally in her thorough, voluntary summary of the session.
3) This issue, although global, has great relevance to the course content and to the practice of many of the participants in their roles as teachers and administrators.
4) The issue was timely. We were able to have this conversation within a week of its occurrence.
5) The conversation was global. The Ustream conversation included participants from 4 countries, and 3 continents.
These previous points are attributes shared with many online educational experiences. Al Upton’s Mini Legends initiative demonstrated some of these and other valuable characteristics. Thus, I believe it is important for all of us to share the positive attributes of online interactions and collaborations that cannot be duplicated using more traditional approaches to teaching and learning. The contrast of great advantages over limited risks is likely the best justification we have for emerging, digital pedagogies.