WordCamp(Ed) in DC: The Rev(olution) Speaks.

This past weekend I had the good fortune of attending the first ever WordCamp(Ed) in DC … a meetup, and an unconference for WordPress users, with emphasis on Word Press Multiple User (WPMU) users in Education. It was hosted by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

While I may have been one of the only, if not the only language teacher there, I was nonetheless impressed and encouraged to hear so many people feeling so passionately about the need for change in the way we connect our students, ourselves, our world and the information we create. It was also delightful and reassuring to see the work of colleagues in disciplines other than mine using plugins, widgets, templates to create an open learning environment that celebrated student and community generated information and knowledge vs locking it away behind a password.

Jeff McClurken of the University of Mary Washington gave a wonderful talk on the use of WP blogs in several history classes at UMW. Great stuff.


Credit: D’Arcy Norman’s flickr stream

And then there is Jim Groom. His keynote at WordCamp(Ed), part Edupunk and part Permanent Revolution, was wonderful. Jim encouraged us not to be bound by the restrictions imposed by a one-size-fits all LMS or CMS as we think of ways to incorporate technology into teaching. Rather, he suggests, we should think and act with more flexibility , using easily adaptable tools, learn how to use them and then shape them to the situation where learning needs to happen.

It’s hard not to start thinking when the Reverend is in the room, preaching his gospel for change, so here are some thoughts I started to jot down while watching his presentation:

-We need to be thinking about engaging the technologist’s -brain- and -expertise- and -passion- in every conversation about teaching with technology. Instructional technologists are curious, intelligent, yes even fearless people. We need to engage them in the process of teaching with technology vs just asking him to move courses from WebCT to Moodle. By engaging everyone in a larger conversation about learning, and asking each of them to share their expertise, teaching with technology becomes a collaborative endeavor, a journey, an intellectual exercise, a joy, heh, even an “edventure.”

-How we assess “learning” shifts when using these tools. We need to prove to ourselves and others that learning is at the very epicenter of this endeavor. This is not about the tools and it never has been. To that end, I started a thread on the WordCamp(Ed)blog about what participants thought learning now looked like using WP. Please share your thoughts by going here

–We do not need to always be thinking about making WordPress do all of the things Blackboard can do…. or try to turn in into a campus portal. This is not EITHER Blackboard, WebCT, Angel OR WordPressMU . They need not compete against one another. These tools appeal to different users and accomplish different tasks. They can coexist. Really! Looky there…another false binary bites the dust

(For some really interesting posts and conversations about why or why not WordPress could/should be converted into a CMS, click here)

-and finally, OMG, we have to act fast. To quote Jim (aka the Reverend)

..our system is broke in relationship to the moment we live in and we have to face it and put pressure on that fact to effect some radical change in institutions that are laboring under several generations of doing business that are increasingly outmoded and have reached a point of crisis!

For Jim’s blog post, and slides, and audio, please click here.

Thank you Reverend, for yet another swift kick in the pants, an adrenalin jumpstart, and for a terrific talk.

¡Qué viva la Revolución!

Barbara has been working for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for about 15 years. In addition to teaching Spanish she runs a somewhat unconventional language center. Prior to this adventure in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and watch the Red Sox. Preferably not all at once, although that could be interesting. To see her online portfolio please click here!

2 Comments

  1. Jim · November 27, 2008 Reply

    Barbara

    I think we both know this was a poor imitation of the Fear 2.0 presentation, you all said all this and then some–and far more creatively. That said, I do appreciate your too kind workds, and that philosophical space between the permanent revolution and radical reuse of resources has got me thinking more about a space to begin both practicing and theorizing some of this “call to action.” 🙂

  2. Barbara · November 27, 2008 Reply

    Well let the games begin then!

    I think if each of us do as Martha has done, and be fearless and begin to piece together a template of a tool that better addresses learning, teaching and our own context, then as my grandma used to say, “more’s the better”

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