Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swings and roundabouts.

April 2011. A swing somewhere in Central France

One year ago, I was sitting on the swing in the garden, relaxing in the spring sunshine. The goats were wandering in the fields opposite, the kids were playing tig in another part of the garden. I connected with my iPhone to a streamed conference in Plymouth and chatted on Twitter with @bellaale. We had no idea where we were. I sort of assumed he was in Plymouth...

I can't really remember if I had planned to attend the PELeCON 2011 conference on-line or if I just happened to be in the right place at the right time (on a swing in Central France in the afternoon in April.)It was quite possibly an example of Serendipity (my favourite word of 2011). What is sure is that the year before, I wouldn't have been able to attend as I wouldn't have been connected to any Twitter stream or have had any inkling of the right #'s. Indeed, I had no idea what a hashtag could be...(something one eats for a very full breakfast?)

Was attending PELeCON part of a professional development program? No! I was sitting on a swing, at the weekend, having fun. I was delighted to be able to combine a moment of pastoral relaxation with a creative conference in Plymouth. Was the space important to my learning? Yes! It was lovely to attend a conference in the warm spring sunshine! Would I have attended the conference on my computer, netbook, iPad? No! These different tools might have convergent uses but do not have the same affordances, the connected device which is most adapted to my play-ground swinging was undoubtedly my smartphone.

As I followed the Twitter stream, a certain @simfin became a recurrent voice/tweep?. I have no idea at what point I followed a shortened bitly link (another new discovery in 2011) and a #pelc11 to one of his blog posts. The title, I found again today, was to the point: Plymouth Elearning Conference 2011... it must have stimulated my curiosity. There followed a review of the conference which for me captured its essence. Its reading, I would recommend, particularly if you are hesitating to attend #pelc12.

I felt moved to comment:

April 9, 2011 at 7:55 am

Even glimpsed from afar through intermittent video/twitter stream and blog posts like this one, I have the feeling of connecting with a community in which I feel enriched, encouraged, challenged. Continuing to teach differently and to challenge the institutional norm is a lot easier connected to this stream. Thanks to this community I don’t feel alone , I feel together. This experience underlines for me the benefits of social media as a means to scaffold change and to enhance learning and well- being. Thank you

A short time after I was joined by @bellaale:

Alex Bellars says:

April 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

Couldn’t agree more with Simon, Simon! (?!) And in fact I “met” Simon (Ensor) out in Clermont-Ferrand via Twitter during the conference, while languishing on my sofa with a chest infection… Pretty unusual conference etiquette, but it exemplifies the beauty of Pelc and other such events (yes, there are others!) starting to snowball across the digital landscape. I feel like I have extended my PLN considerably over the 3 days, have COUNTLESS links to sift through and check out, and a myriad of ideas and challenges to try out. And I agree wholeheartedly with Simon (Finch) that the fact that the (student) LEARNERS were at the centre of Pelc was a superb coup. Thanks so much to all concerned…

As I am preparing to attend PELeCON 2012 in the flesh (as it were), and to speak and to tweet again, I can feel much excitement mingled with just a little apprehension. 

I am sure that it will be an awesomely inspiring, challenging, fun event. I will be able to put a face and a voice on @simfin, be able to thank @timbuckteeth face to face (again), meet up with lots of new friends and tweeps. 

I fear feebly that that good old British weather will disappoint. I have been in France much too long. I must admit to a certain nostalgia for swinging through #pelc11 in the spring sun. I will miss hearing the kids playing tig on the other side of the garden.

Nevermind, I am reconciled by the idea that one way or another I will learn. One must learn, after all, to accept that life and therefore learning is always a question of swings and roundabouts. 

Might I suggest the introduction of a conference play-ground for #pelc13 or perhaps a partnership with #slidetolearn?

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