On Monday December 29th at 6:00 pm EST, this first Ontario Educator Meetup session took place online in Adobe Connect. The session, while definitely not without its hiccups, exceeded my expectations. In reflecting back, I must admit that I was a little panicked when 30-45 minutes before “showtime” my voice was not being heard by the participants through the microphone and I am a little disappointed that I forgot to hit the record button when the session began. However, the conversation was fruitful and the interaction, for the most part, was vibrant.
The topic of the conversation was “Engaging in Online Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s)” where I gave a brief talk on the subject and then we as a group spent time discussing what our own PLN’s look like. What struck me most about the session was that 21 individuals from around the world took time out of their busy day to participate. This is the most encouraging part for me as I didn’t expect the numbers to be that high in the very first session. A special thanks to Doug Peterson and Sue Waters for helping to promote this for me to the members of their professional learning networks and for their support during the session. Judging by the fact that 3 individuals sent me their regrets beforehand and expressed interest in participating in session #2, I’m encouraged that this humble attempt to connect Ontario educators with other educators from around the world will turn out to be a positive learning experience and environment for all involved.
On the topic of connecting people, one very important issue was raised. That issue was that the 21 individuals who participated were already converted. These individuals were already immersed in online PLN’s using Web 2.0 digital tools. How could we help convert the unconverted? This is a very valid concern and speaks to one participant’s point about developing critical mass. In fact, it is this very concern that drove me to setup this space in the first place. Many educators who are new to digital spaces often complain that they are overwhelmed by all the content or that they ‘don’t get’ tools like Twitter. This speaks directly to the time factor and the investment necessary to engage in a PLN, especially one with a global scope. I hope that by using a web conferencing tool such as Adobe Connect and encouraging dialogue among members of a network, this space can act as a starting point for educators willing to learn more about social networks and getting involved in a PLN but are unsure about where, how or why to focus their energies on this pursuit.
All in all, I think that the inaugural session was a success. While do not have a recorded session to share, you can find links and other notes in my delicious account and in this blog by searching using the tag ontmeetup. In Twitter, participants will also use the hastag #ontmeetup when referring to this conversation and this space. Thanks to those who attended. For thise that didn’t, I hope to encourage you to attend the next session.