- A meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations.
- A collection of writings on a particular topic, as in a magazine.
- A convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion among the ancient Greeks.
Saturday was the long awaited arrival of this year’s TLT Symposium. As usual, the day was full, it was engaging, it was a bit overwhelming, and at the end of the event, there was more to take away than I could really effectively comment on without additional cogitation (you know, thought, decompression, discussion, and… stuff).
For those people who are “real bloggers” and conscientious about
putting their impressions on the ethers, I’m already in apology mode.
Because on this blog, it is what it is. If I were
conscientious, I would have separate posts on danah boyd and David Wiley, and how we shattered concepts about higher education and what it all might mean to us in 10 years.
But we know that blogging takes a backseat to my life.
let me just say, in the event I never get farther than this, it was an
excellent event. I was already a fan of danah boyd. That I found her engaging, her research a force we must reckon with, and an inspiration was not a surprise. I
was pleasantly reeled into David Wiley’s keynote address, as I have
been very intrigued with a number of posts lately that have touched
upon the future of higher education, and how we must change if we are
to survive. One of the best quotes he used, that perfectly describes
the challenges that higher ed is beginning to face:
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. ~ W. Edwards Deming
Again, food for another post.
Probably one of the
biggest takeaways I want to reflect on is how this event has really
become more about the crowd in the cloud effect, rather than the sage
on the stage. Sure, there were people of note (see previously noted
fabulous keynote speakers) that had things to say, and lots of faculty
who were sharing what they were doing in the arenas of teaching and
learning with technology but, more than ever, I feel this universal
movement of the audience taking what is said, stretching it, playing
with it, trying it on, commenting about it and throwing it out to the
others like a giant beachball at a concert. Whether you want to call it
the backchannel, or the ether, or crowdsourcing, or whatever the day’s
newest term is, I think the big picture here is that for a large number
of us, we no longer participate in an event in simply one dimension.
It’s a dialogue, either with the sage him/herself (Q & A, the
Harvard question tool) or, more likely than not, with the other fools
on the stools (sorry; this rhyming thing’s a groove on the move). We’re
listening, but on multiple levels: in person; in person on the
backchannel; in absentia on the backchannel; in real time or, quite
simply, whenever we feel like revisiting the symposium in the
subsequent blogs, pictures, tweets that will be aggregated by a simple
#tltsym09 search. We participate in podcasts, and blog posts, and flip
interviews, and hallway conversations, testing these ideas, launching
theories, adding value to the dicussion.
I grant you the
backchannel model doesn’t work everywhere; there are social mores that
are often offended by engagement with laptops and cell phones while
sages are speaking, and there are visual cues to be missed when you are
semi-focused elsewhere. But like Pandora’s box, this is not something
that will go quietly back into the box from whence it started. We are
engaged, we are learning, and our definition of engagement is evolving.
I think now, more than ever, we are truly fulfilling that first
definition of what a symposium is in new and unexpected ways: a meeting
or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the
participants form an audience and make presentations.
Of course, the convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion works for me too.
See you in the cloud.