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UStream TV Powers the Network

UStream TV Powers the Network

In and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it
Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I cannot let this week go by without jotting down a few thoughts. I sense that with so many presentations awaiting from the k12online conference next week, I'd better write this down before the next wave of learning sweeps it all away from my mind with new shining concepts. 

This is not a finished post. These are the notes of the post I would like to have time to write.

We know it is not about the tools. But still. There is an essential sense of appropriation when we play and toy with the possibilities. I think there is an unnecessary sense of urgency sometimes. As if we had to justify the time invested. If we play, we must find an educational purpose for every tool. I fear this is not exactly so. We should play because the learning we extract is worthwhile.

The time to design educational uses is somewhere beyond the thrill of it all. It requires reflection and directed questions. It is not spontaneous, although the proximity of the network can accelerate your thoughts. I think that designing educational uses of tools is about understanding how things are sometimes an extension of what we know. And also identifying the spots when knowledge requires a change of paradigm.

Personally, I think we will not be able to establish any serious conversation with school authorities or administration that resist change until we can explain pedagogies without an overflow of enthusiasm.

I have tried to follow the edublogosphere collaborative testing of live streaming tools -UStream and Operator 11. 
Chatting in UStream has probably been one of the most disruptive, social experiences in the last weeks. Reacting to the ideas of the participants or streamers and getting instant feedback seems as good as it gets while attending conferences online. The backchannel chatroom has an aura of privacy. Of whispering thoughts to unauthorized attendees (or gatecrashers). It is quite different from speaking up so that the whole room hears you. It is more inviting to reflection. Just like reading your RSS in isolation. Only you never get your RSS-ed edublogger answering you, or posing your questions to the presenter.

This is what I felt today as I participated in David Warlick's "Our Student's, Our World" presentation, from within John Pederson's notebook. So transparent, so seamless. I wonder whether more sophisticated technology is necessary to move ahead in the direction of the mission widely stated in so many pioneer edublogs: connect, converse, network.

What's in a network?
This is the key issue I believe. Here we are getting together via, blogs, Twitter. When there is a need to discuss together, we UStream. We need Skype in, we do it. This week we have had as much contact with the network as with our families. So what? What do we do with all of this? Why should we think of classroom uses before thinking of our own?

I sensed the network, solid and long ago built by some edubloggers suddently trembled. There seems to be a reaching out for feeds, then you are overfed and the day comes when you reduce it to 60. Or so I read in some posts. Is that a network? I wonder. After two years of close interaction with the same nodes, you probably become a group. Oddly enough, the same people who trim their RSS feeds will say that the more people in your network, the more you may know.
The point is that you do not need to know them personally to access knowledge. And this week, it was clear that you may find people willing to offer time and collaboration too. 

It is not the circle of the wise that counts. It is learning to connect with the ever shifting node in your network that will make your learning a different experience. Not connecting in a 1.1 mode as LinkedIn connects people. It is to be done in circles, closer and further away from you. To reach someone else, you need a node in between? Nope. Your network should be like a search in Kartoo, not like a Yahoo directory of good quality folks. You never know where depth of knowledge lies.

However, the closer circle takes you further more often.  But let's face it. The variety is only in the suject matter being taught. It is always educators we connect to. No wonder it is difficult to talk to people who simply don't get it.

A network should be peopled by diversity. Of all kinds, geographical, ideological, linguistic and discipline of expertise.

Vicky Davis in her TV show about the book Wikinomics said something about the network. We are about to realise how to accomplish great things. We are still thrilled at the hype of the new. At the getting in touch with so many like-minded voices -when schools still don't get it. 
If we have learnt something this week is that we are not islands of our own. We are a network.

What makes this network flock from tool to tool together and sit glued to a TV screen till late in the evening? Because we find value. Because learning together, discovering together makes us a network.

Even the concept of network has changed this week. Will Richarson mentioned in one of his Operator 11 tests that there were some people he kept in touch with everyday. Now these days he has been in touch with not so near nodes. And learning.
Mind blowing.

The need for Skype in the UStream
It is frustrating at times not to have the two way conversation. But the chat would be lost. If we all had a chance to speak we would not do so on top of each other. In a chatroom, you may identify two or three threads of conversation coexisting, intertwining. Some taking over others. But it is messy and progresses in bursts of inspiration or need to share. It has a value. When and to what purpose do we use one or the other (chat or Skype? What is the criteria to choose and plan?

I keep thinking how conferences change with UStream. Events will no longer be local or international. 

It's late. I must stop rambling. Something ijohnpederson said in the chat comes back to mind:
Sleep is so 1.0

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