I just came back from the TxDLA conference in Galveston. What a great conference for me. It was interesting to see how people are approaching distributed learning across the state. This year there seemed to be more sessions on building community. This is encouraging as so many DL courses lack the sense of community. However, Gary Stager made a great point about how community must move beyond the basic exchanges. We need to get to the “Big” ideas. What are the “Big” ideas in a discipline? Conversation must get to where knowledge is constructed around these ideas. He stated that there is nothing new about collaboration- it has existed since the dawn of time. However, I would have to argue that there is something fundamentally different about collaboration today. That being the value we hold on collaboration. It is true that early hunters would have gone hungry without collaboration. However, collaboration is not something that was greatly valued in our society over the past hundred years or so. That is changing now. Well, changing everywhere except in schools. Collaboration is still woefully lacking in most educational programs. We need to value this more in education.
I also presented at TxDLA. This went very well. I presented a concept I had worked on earlier this year dealing with cognition and media/course design. The presentation was interactive and I believe it has helped me break through some writers block. I have some new ideas and observations to consider. There is nothing like the reflective process of presenting to help stimulate thought. Again, the social aspects of learning shine through.
The best part of the conference was getting to spend one on one time with Dr. Gary Stager and Alen November. We had some very interesting and engaging conversations.