Will Richardson speaks in Melbourne


 Will  Richardson’s networks

I’m guessing there will be several blog posts about the SLAV conference, Perspectives on learning V2 today. I have considered whether to leave it to others, but a post always deconstructs my own thinking, and creates an archive for later reference.

Will Richardson was the keynote speaker, and he spoke about Network literacy: leveraging the potential of a hyperconnected world. There were concurrent sessions by Jenny Luca (Now you know Web 2.0, what next?), Adrian Camm (Why create a virtual learning community), and John Pearce (Projecting passionately with Web 2.0). The Plenary session was presented by Kerry Rowett and Judith Way (Web 2.0 and resources for you), who write the SLAV blog, Bright ideas.

SLAV is to be congratulated on providing cutting edge professional development, and also on providing links to the presentations on their Bright Ideas blog.

What I’m not going to do is summarise the talks. The slide presentations will give clues, and the podcasts to follow will provide the detail. What I’m going to do is pull out of Will’s keynote speech some of the main points that resonated with me.

Firstly, anyone who has read Will’s blog or looked through his Delicious tags, will know that network literacy is a leitmotif throughout his writings. If you compare the idea of network literacy with our traditional concept of literacy (at its most basic, reading and writing), then you have an idea of how Will stretches the idea of literacy, and also where his focus is. The hyperconnected world he speaks of is a connectedness which is made  possible by technology, but which is not focused on technology itself, but on a connectedness with people and people networks. And these networks are the source of information for Will. He doesn’t Google when he needs information, he goes to his Twitter or Delicious communities. When he wants to know what ‘s going on in the world, he doesn’t just read newspapers, he prefers to go to his personally designed sources in his Google Reader (RSS feeds), or to his favourite bloggers when he wants deep conversation. He connects with people who share his passions, with experts far and wide, and he urges us to do the same.

And so we shouldn’t be surprised when Will speaks of schools as places which need to change. He quotes Clay Shirky (Here comes everybody) who says we have to get outside of our physical spaces which define our schools and learning, and connect with people and networks globally. He reminds us that our students have already made it out to networked activity through social media sites like Facebook and MySpace. He pre-empts our concerns that Facebook is trivial and uneducational by pointing out that kids are already moving beyond the superficial and using social media to form interest-based groups, where their interaction is based purely on passion and transcends physical space, time zones and cultures. We are impressed when we realise that these experiences place kids in a position of being teachers as well as learners. We really get the point when we hear that this all happens outside of school, when it hits home that self-organised learning and teaching activities driven by pure passion are taking place outside of our learning institutions. While we have the problem of increasing disengagement in our classes. The point hits home with some discomfort.

Here are some points that came out of Will’s talk:

  • learning is an ongoing process, not something that fits neatly within a measured time frame
  • blogging allows us to rethink what it means to read and write; it becomes a connection, a conversation with an authentic audience
  • literacy is malleable and will evolve further in the next few years
  • multimedia texts expand literacy to include critical thinking and analysis
  • we need to create and navigate our own personal learning network, and teach our students to do the same
  • network literacy cannot be taught as a one-off course
  • we need to help our kids create a digital footprint, so that they have positive results when googled

Listen to the podcast when it comes onto the SLAV website for the rest of the talk.

Jenny Luca’s talk was a passionate account detailing her journey from Web 2.0 to making a difference to the lives of many people with the help of individuals and communities around the world. Amongst other projects, she spoke about Working together to make a difference which she is most proud of, since it is testimony to the best of people’s collabortive efforts.

I could go on; all the talks I attended were extremely interesting and relevant to educators. It’s the kind of resource and ideas list that could keep you going for a very long time. I’m already using most of the Web 2.o tools and applications that were mentioned, but I’m trying to integrate them into relevant and creative learning and teaching. What I have learned from hearing people like Will and Jenny speak, has not centred on new tools, but shifted me into a different direction, provided me with a new perspective.

What I’d love to find out now is how the audience received these talks, how people felt, what they thought, what resolutions, if any, did they make as they walked out of that conference. Did it make a difference? Please leave your honest comments here, and perhaps we can have a conversation. Did the talks effect a shift in your perspective and teaching direction, or did it just make you shift uncomfortably in your seat?

13 thoughts on “Will Richardson speaks in Melbourne”

  1. That would have to have been a fantastic conference! I’m interested in the direction your thinking is taking now. I know you are right when you say it’s not just the tools. Is it the connections that we get the students to make, the way that they communicate within the web2.0 environment…?
    SLAV is to be commended on having such credible speakers.
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi Lois, thanks for commenting. It took me a little while to see the point of the tools, to see the bigger picture. Now that I’ve changed direction, there’s no going back!

  3. Tania,

    Just got your tweet and link to this post about Will’s comments during SLAV. Sounds like yet another wonderful experience to be had by so many.

    Personally, I hope to continue spreading the seeds of change in our school. We’ve had many positive experiences networking outside of school but it continues to be the exception rather than the rule.

    I can’t help but wonder what schools will be like 5-10 years from now and if there will be more or less emphasis on standardized tests.

    I sense that the real breakthrough will be when an instrument/tool is developed and accepted that can “measure” affective objectives like love of learning. But that almost seems like a paradox.

    Be well!

  4. Tania, Your reflection does just that- truly reflects the spirit of the day. I too felt energised just being there and listening to Will. Thank you for your kind words and for being a wonderful support, encouraging me to continue to push new ground.

  5. Thanks for your comments, Hiram and Jenny. I have to say that for me the connections to all of you have been the most powerful part of Web 2.0. It’s not just PD, is it? It’s a change of life.

  6. Glad that the links to the presentations on the Bright Ideas blog has been helpful. Personally, I always find it enlightening to go back to the presentations as I always find something new.

  7. Hi Tania

    I think the energy and ideas I gained from yesterday’s conference were still radiating from me when I returned to school today!

    By adding this comment I’m doing what Will suggested and growing my network!

    I am still quite new to Web 2.0 and have been reading people’s blogs and tinkering with web 2.0 tools for the past 6 months. Listening to Will speak yesterday really crystalised for me the power of Web 2.0 for teaching and learning. His simple demonstration of red dots on the clustr maps representing the global classroom was very powerful…

    Some of Will’s points that stood out for me and where I’m currently at were

    1.If you have an internet connection in your room then you are no longer the smartest person in the room…it’s up to us to help our students find the smartest people in the world to teach them

    2. You can “graze” on knowledge and be a “nomadic learner” following your interests/passions. We need to help out students identify their passions – grow their networks and thus engage them in their learning (John Pearce demonstrated this really well in his session)

    3. Network Literacy – when you create, grow and navigate your own personal learning networks in safe, effective, ethical ways. – this is a PROCESS

    4. Teachers need to be learners first and teachers second with Web 2.0 tools

    5. The network is smarter then the node

    I am so excited for education…to be able to see some of the possibilites yesterday as well as the opportunity to imagine what else could be. I’m definitely looking at the way I teach in a totally different way. I would love to see our children learning in a primary school that has very “thin walls”!!!

  8. Thanks for droppping by, Judith.
    Hi Kim, great to see you here, and glad to hear that you were inspired by yesterday’s presentations. That’s all it takes and suddenly you’re connected to a network of really interesting people. I started the Web 2.0 course middle of last year, but when I think about the learning I’ve done since then, just by reading blogs, then writing one, and gradually using Twitter and learning from others’ Delicious bookmarks, it feels like so much has happened since then.
    The quotes you mention are also some of my favourites. All the best in your learning journey. Have fun, and make a difference!

  9. Hi Tania,
    I guess you already know how enthused yesterday’s conference made me (thanks for the comment by the way). I’ve come away resolved to be a better blogger and, in particular, a better commenter – to get involved in the conversations, the “what happens after publishing” as Will spoke of.
    Very impressed with your post, you put me to shame. You’ve given us a fantastic overview of the day written intelligently and with passion, I can only aspire to write so well.
    Again, it was terrific to meet you yesterday. I’m sure we’ll continue to connect in the twitterverse/blogosphere/real world!

  10. Heather, I could say the same for your post! It’s all a matter of perspective. I love the commenting on blogs because it’s all about conversation. Looking forward to more blogersations with you.

  11. Hey Tania,

    Thanks so much for your kind words and for starting this conversation. It’s great to see the reactions of some of the attendees, and I’m really glad some of my thought resonated with you and others. It was great to see you again, and hopefully, there will be another return visit. Despite the distance, my trips to Australia have always been wonderful and filled with learning. Cheers!

  12. Thanks for dropping by, Will. I’d love to find out the reactions of more attendees but I’m not sure how to do that. I hope there will be another visit, because I’m sure your talk has had a powerful effect, and after a time of processing and reflection, a subsequent talk will reconfirm this process. So glad you’ve enjoyed your visits to Australia, and see you soon hopefully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *