Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to interact with the crème de la crème of the international Higher Education world at #HETL14. I think we can all get isolated in our practice at times, although Twitter and collaborative projects have really shifted that reality for me. Through #HETL14, I found that others were doing some amazing things – and yes, I’d like to do some of the things they are doing, but mostly I want to work with them, learn from them, and allow my students to benefit from their knowledge!
Of course I spent a great deal of time with my co-presenter Dr. Ian Willis. Ian is a voice for social justice and the equalization of education across the globe. Speaking with him about his amazing young adulthood and those factors that took him into teaching was one of the highlights of the conference for me. He is simply remarkable and his commitment to the University of Liverpool online EdD shone through in every conversation. We also had the chance (thanks to Joe Mazza) to master Voxer at a high level! We were walkie-talkieing all around!
Dr. Anne Jones and I had a blast wearing our Google Glasses in public (we don’t get to do that much). People wanted to try them on and play with them. Someone asked Anne what Google Glasses were good for, and she replied, “Making friends.” Very true :-). We made many friends through the Google Glasses, and those friends took some great pictures as they were exploring what Google Glass was all about.
Supper two nights in a row with Dr. Johannes Cronje made my world a bit bigger. I had read some of his articles, and only recently as I was doing a book chapter on Open Learning in K-12 with Verena Roberts, Vicki Davis, Colin Osterhout, came across Who Killed e-Learning which helped me to frame my own thoughts. The “e” in e learning will fade away…it’s only about learning. How amazed I was that in my first 48 hours, I was able to connect with someone as forward thinking as this! And hearing his tales were only slightly more amazing. I think I’ve made a lifelong friend!
I also had supper with the formidable Michael Sutton a couple of nights, and I have a new appreciation for Teacher-prenuership (and a different understanding of Canada), and hopefully a new partner in crime and learning! After the fact, and after this amazing experience at #HETL14, Anne and I submitted a presentation to #HETL15 in Utah – we are going to present using Twitter as a primary channel for learning (if accepted). So I believe I’ll get to see Michael again soon, and certainly I have already joined his Linked-In family.
Finally, on the final night of the conference I had supper with Dr. Craig Mahoney and friends. We were five nationalities at one table, discussing the importance of forward thinking, appropriate domestic accommodations for our children, and the challenges of remote teaching and learning. Yes it was the final night, and we were all a little tired but a great meal with exceptional company.
My greatest take aways from the conference started with the Keynote and were echoed throughout. We don’t drive learning, we diagnose it, and enable it. We don’t glorify ourselves, we give our students the room to bloom and achieve and celebrate their victories. In teaching and learning, we are a vibrant community who gives hope to the future of higher education!
Oh – and the multidimensionality of the PLN. This is the first conference I have been to in which a large number of my PLN (in fact, my Tweeps) were attending. It was nearly surreal to me to walk up and meet these amazing people in person. After 2 years on Twitter (I know that still makes me a newbie) I was able to meet and talk to these folks I had learned so much from. Just surreal.
I didn’t mention many of the people I met and my apologies – I still did learn with you and will continue to learn from you! I hope to see you all again in Utah.