15 January 2010

Notes from ScienceOnline 2010: Day 1.5

The event has not begun in earnest yet, and I can already tell you that ScienceOnline 2010 is the best. conference. ever. It's a place where egos do not appear to exist---only enthusiasm to share and learn. People are very friendly, always willing to strike up a conversation and share a story. Bora is a delightful host, boundless in energy and as genial as I had always imagined.

I don't have enough headspace at the moment to fully develop a post, but I did want to share some of my observations from the first day or so.
  • It is a different sort of crowd here. Not only is everyone interested in science, but also in social media. Several people I have met have described that they are the only ones in their lab, library, or office who dabble in blogging and tweeting. Many of them have run up against institutional policies or disinterest in these endeavours. This is an important for me to note, because I run across so many teachers who feel the same way. It is not just schools which are undergoing growing pains when it comes to integrating "web 2.0" (or whatever you wish to label it)---we are not as behind as we might think.
  • Blog posts are like lesson plans. You know how we educators will spend hours crafting what you think is the most awesome engaging lesson in the history of your classroom, only to have kids chew it up and spit it out...only to discover on another day when you have 5 minutes to plan that students love things? I've heard a few comments here around the same sort of relationship with posts. Scientists who take a ton of time to research and construct a post only to find that they get more conversation and comments on the "toss offs." Maybe there is something to be said for deadlines.
  • People rarely resemble their avatars---even the ones who use their own photos. I don't care how many times I've seen someone's tiny avatar on Twitter or on their blogs, the 3D experience is very different.
  • Blogging 101 was a ton of fun. An hour was woefully inadequate for getting people up and running with their own blogs, but it was enough time to allay some fears and provide places to start. I so enjoyed their positive energy and enthusiasm. I really hope that at least some of them get into blogging.
Most of the sessions will happen tomorrow. Considering the atmosphere oriented toward personal learning, the level of participation, and the openness of this conference where everyone can contribute, I really think this may well be the most powerful learning experience I have had.

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