Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Post-workshop Reflections: NEtwork Conference 2007

I conducted a New Media/ Blogging-related workshop this afternoon. Was invited by the folks from Nexus (National Education) about a month back. Basically, the workshop covered the usual hows, and whys of (mainly) blogging. Because it's a workshop attended by National Education (NE) practitioners, I tried to show more NE-related examples and also have group activities centered on ideas on applying New Media to National Education.

I had mixed feelings after the 2-hour session (1.30pm to 3.30pm). Total about 30 participants, mostly teachers.

I couldn't quite get that level of rapport I wanted with most of the participants. After-lunch syndrome?

The wireless connection was quite good. The problem was the layout of the classroom. The tables were arranged in rows (lecture-style) which wasn't that conducive for the group work.

The big problem I thought was the disparity in the participants' awareness, knowledge and experience of using new media.

I found out during (and confirmed with actual participants) after the session that there was a even mix of people who are already into using blogs (particularly the schools) and those who were not quite sure how to get started. Two ends of the spectrum.

A quick poll during the class showed that almost half of them were already blogging of some sort, especially those from schools. Some teachers were quite advanced too (they were already actively using blogs and wanted to know newer technologies).

For the discussion part, I suspected that mentally the participants weren't prepared for a group discussion, especially on ideas of uising new media for NE. At the initial part they were quite animated in discussing in their small groups, when I asked them to identify issues and challenges in using New Media for NE. Then I got them to walk to other groups to look at what was written.

But when it came to a discussion of ideas on how to use new media for NE, the discussion got very quiet. I suspect they haven't really thought about it. And there were those who still weren't sure what were the uses of blogs etc.

Don't blame them, 'cos I think one needs more time for that sort of things. Also, the conference blurb was rather vague on the outline of the workshop.

In the end, the talk benefited more of those who were at the beginner's level. Those "expert users" wanted more than the overview, I'm sure. Would have wanted to separate the two groups but never is quite possible to know before hand.

Overall, I wasn't quite satisfied with the outcomes, in that upon hindsight, there were much more I could share and targeted at different levels. But it's upon hindsight and I can't do anything for those 30 or so participants.

Perhaps the biggest problem -- and this is just my gut feel -- was that the topic of "National Education" was (1) not well understood and defined by some of the participants, and (2) it has a bad reputation (unwarranted, if you ask me). So add these together, and it's quite natural the discussion generally didn't flow when it came to ideas on using new media for NE.

If I had more time with smaller groups, I'm confident we could work something out. Well, maybe a next time, say discussions with teachers in a particular school.

For future talks aimed at teachers, I'd certainly look beyond "creating and why use blogs" and go into things like "ways to get the message out" and perhaps a review of what's considered good writing using actual examples with schools.

The good vibes I got was also that most participants actively did their part during the discussions. I could see that almost every group was chatting and sharing away. Maybe on that note, one part of the workshop was accomplished, i.e. to share tacit knowledge among the participants.

Well, if any of the participants manage to find their way to this blog post, do leave a comment on what you thought was good, useful, could-be-improved, not-helpful etc. from this afternoon's workshop.

Darn -- wished I'd time to collect the stuff they wrote, and post it here.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:27 pm

    Dear Ivan, observed that you've tried v v hard. That's already very great of you!

    Yep, guess i learnt something too. As a participant, i'll prepare myself (with questions) before attending workshops in order to make my learning more fulfilling, in addition to jst filling in d knowledge gap.


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