The sole purpose of my Pedago.me presentation at the 2016 Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) conference was to see what instructional designers and teaching assistant technologists thought of the idea of an online community created specifically for them. In this article, I will attempt to share my experience akin to the notion of teaching in the open. The practice of openly sharing one’s experience in teaching, annotating, or “insert verb here” is important for the larger community to learn from one another. I will walk through the planning, delivery, and key takeaways from presenting Pedago.me at COLTT.
Since the conference focused on education technology (edtech), I assumed that all participants would be utilizing Twitter as a main edtech tool. However, this was not the case and I found this to be a huge lesson in edtech tooling. The tools are vast and the best analogy I can make is considering all the tools required to build a house. To achieve my goal of discussing the value of Pedago.me, I had many tools to choose from: a paper survey, open discussion, Monkey Survey, Twitter chat, or any other edtech survey tool out there. I chose what I thought was the best tool for the job.
The Twitter chat option allowed for the discussion to span beyond the walls of the classroom. Pedagogical experts and guests, Remi Holden and Maha Bali were kind enough to offer their insights and wisdom during the chat. My co-presenter, Brad Hinson, was going to run the Twitter chat, while I facilitated participants in tweeting answers from their devices. Responses were then going to be projected on the wall for everyone to see. Our plan was solid and golden.
Nine participants attended the discussion and only two or three had participated in a Twitter chat before. Brad and I could have stayed the course, forcing everyone to engage in the manner I had chosen, but the vibe of the room seemed really reluctant to the Twitter chat option.
Adapt or Die
Brad had set the chat to post questions every five minutes in case we were both needed to run a group discussion. Thank goodness for Brad’s forethought, however, I really hated the autopilot idea. This meant that Pedago.me was going to post questions every five minutes and not facilitate the online discussion. I did not get to control that aspect of the discussion and that was really uncomfortable for me. When I looked at the projected chat on the wall, this is what I saw at any given moment.
That’s the thing about “open” anything. Open teaching, open annotating, or open presenting requires the person who is in “control” to release the reigns a bit and trust that all the planning and careful thought will be absorbed, spun, and embellished upon by the participants.
During our quick half hour discussion, I thought there was very little participation, but after combing through all the tweets, there was more participation than I realized in the moment. After introductions, we probably had only 20 minutes left for four chat/discussion questions. Here is a list of who participated:
The projection of live tweets was really hard to follow in real time while talking to the room, but I noticed several interesting findings after the fact. Three people in the classroom took a stab at participating in the chat, one person was in another COLTT session while joining in the chat, and one person in the classroom really embraced the chat and promoted conversation. In the TwXplorer snapshot below, you can see that @chubbynbubbly was one of the most active participants with 10 combined tweets and retweets.
In the classroom discussion, @chubbynbubbly was very quiet. I had no idea she was so “vocal” in the chat. I learned firsthand how participants prefer different avenues of communication.
In the spirit of letting go of control to be surprised by the group, one of the participants suggested a collaborative effort after everyone had left the room. As one of the brave participants to take a stab at the chat, she later when on to post the following tweet to me (@thelearnersway) about presenting at her organization’s upcoming conference.
Collaboration is an important, if not essential, aspect of Pedago.me. I am excited to see what ideas the Metro State edtech community has for Pedago.me and what is possible for the Teaching and Learning Technology Symposium (TLTS). Open thinking, processing, and collaboration are all welcome at Pedago.me.