Connections, the Travel
This week I had the privilege to attend the 13th Annual Conference on Open Education in Richmond, VA, U.S.A. This post is to thank those that contributed to me being there. I will get to explaining the title below, read on please.
Connections, the Support
Of course I must mention my family first and especially Aurelia who is teaching a full+ load this semester. I do my best to share the parenting load with our children as well as finding time for ourselves but duly acknowledge that I don’t come close to fifty percent in that space. I can only attempt to make up ground when I am at home. My children also make sacrifices when I am away and I do indeed appreciate and love them for that.
I also need to thank my employer, the Tecnológico de Monterrey who provided funds through the Explora project, my computing science department who helped out with registration and incidentals and of course my students for continuing to learn even when Ken isn’t there in the classroom but are aware that I am “there” online as always. One student asked me last week “Professor, which days are you away for your vacation?” Perhaps this post helps give context of what conferences mean to me and my professional development.
My fried Alan Levine (@cogdog) gets double the thanks. First for his constant and amazing sharing which extended to the financial realm through giving me a place to stay plus wonderful conversations over breakfast and evenings. What an awesome roommate. He also keeps me out of trouble. :)
Connections, the People
My online friend Laura Gogia (@googleguacamole) is an amazing researcher, connector, blogger and speaker. In the web of online conversations I can’t trace back when I encountered Laura or who was the connector there but that doesn’t matter now. Perhaps I should go back to trace those events since apparently I had some impact that I don’t remember because I don’t know how I earned a mention in her acknowledgements section of her (open of course) Ph.D. dissertation. Her wisdom and vision is also the inspiration for the change in title of my blog from “Ken Bauer on Teaching and Technology” (oh how generic) to “Connecting is Learning”. I of course asked her permission to use that phrase and Laura waved it off as just words that she couldn’t own. The phrase fits my views on education and was directly inspired from this document.
Now Laura is no longer “just” a virtual friend, I did get to meet her in person Wednesday afternoon and of course that first hug and in person conversation of someone you “know” online is a magic experience that many of us have had so often that are in this connected community. I can say Laura does not disappoint in person. She is a bundle of energy and quickly set to task welcoming everyone to Richmond and I can say I felt even more at home than I already felt from warm receptions of other virtual buddies whom I met for the first time earlier that morning.
Laura also arranged for #TacosRVA on Wednesday evening while continuously giving Jon Becker credit. I also must give a massive thank you to her children and her husband for giving us time with Laura this week. As Laura put it, our families understand how important this group of people are to us as well as how intense this burst of togetherness that in person meetings are with people we talk with everyday online. I hope to meet your family someday soon Laura, perhaps a trip to Guadalajara is in the future. We have great tacos there, just ask Alan!
I must thank the Virtually Connecting community and of course especially to Maha Bali (@bali_maha) , Rebecca Hogue (@rjhogue) and Autumm Caines (@Autumm). You let me into this community and gave me a voice in this wonderful discussion and group exploration on our togetherness while not actually being “there” together. This time I was one of “the normals” being “there” which deserves a separate post. I promised that one to you Maha, it will be released soon. Check out the Virtually Connecting page for the #OpenEd16 event and you can see the session that I was “onsite co-buddy” with Chuck, virtual buddies where Susan Adams and Michael Berman. Our guests where Laura and Lee.
Again I must thank Alan Levine for conversations in the hallway together but more so for making me feel welcome and introducing me to his friends in those hallways. If I had not met Alan then I probably would not be here, you can listen to my story of connection that I sent Alan last year. The connections just keep blossoming from that branch of connectedness. If you have a story of connectedness, I invite you to submit yours to Alan on his site for collecting these stories. Alan is doing some great work with Creative Commons on creating a certification program. I would have loved to be in Alan’s session on the last day but was forced to decide between his session and that of Laura, Jon Becker (@jonbecker), Alec Couros (@courosa) and Bonnie Stewart (@bonstewart) on “Opening the Dissertation: Exploring the Public Thesis Spectrum”
I must not forget to mention Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) who also gave me a warm (fellow Canadian) welcome to Virginia where she is now based. I’ve been following Lee’s work for a few years and just recently (since #DigPedUMW in August) met her with an epic Virtually Connecting hallway session (Autumm as onsite and myself virtual buddy). Lee is a bundle of extroverted energy who welcome me to engage in conversations with her many connections in this group. Thank you Lee, you are amazing. You also totally owned the decision for going to the deli. Thanks for that, I believe Chuck thanks you more.
Somewhere and somehow a discussion about #imposterism sprung out of a flurry of tweets (which led to my post “Connected and Going Native“) where I mentioned my feelings of inadequacy in online conversations with the likes of Laura and Bonnie Stewart in particular. Laura and Bonnie both lifted me up with nice comments and I believe Laura triggered a call to investigate these feelings of #imposterism further. I scheduled a Google Hangout to bring together a group interested in discussing this. That group included Laura, Bonnie, Lee, Willie Knoetze (@absolutewillie), Donna Lanclos (@donnalanclos) and Chuck. We didn’t record that one hour session on purpose. It was wonderful and brought an amazing human connection to that group of people. In many ways that session led to the closeness that I felt to this group of people I had never met in person. Laura and Lee have there sections above, Donna, Bonnie and Willie could not make it in person this year to OpenEd and so that leaves me to Chuck.
Chuck Pearson(@shorterpearson). Wow, what a wonderful human. I had some amazing conversations with Chuck this week and he is included here from the volume of contact we had in person in sessions, in hallways and at dinners. You are such a giving person Chuck and I know there will be more time for discussion and food in our future. You folks will not believe how much Chuck *loved* that Jewish Deli food on Friday night. The coleslaw made all other coleslaw not deserve that name, the pickles were heavenly and the hot dog was in another stratosphere of hotdog-ness. You are simply a joy to spend time with Chuck and wise beyond words. Thank you!
There are way too many others to mention in this single post so I’m going to add one more colleague that I had the pleasure to spend the bulk of my event with and a prelude to a special influencer that gives the title of this post.
I can’t believe I was not following Jim Luke (@econproph) on Twitter while he was following me. That was an oversight that was quickly remedied. Alan introduced us in one of many hallway conversations and I spent hours in the hallways and in sessions with Jim. Great conversations about the content of sessions as well as our side-channel discussions. Jim is doing some great work in Domain of One’s Own which gave us much to talk about (remember to turn off the #FeedWordPress spigot at the end of the semester) but what stood out most was Jim’s story of connectedness of how he came into the work of Laura and her open dissertation process discussed in my second to last session of the week. You *must* record that and contribute to Alan’s story collection Jim. Oh, by-the-way: Jim and Chuck stated the obvious about Laura holding court speaking in her session. So you are an amazing speaker in person too Laura, I would call you a superhero but Jim and Chuck labeled you a goddess of open education. That works too.
Connections, the Influencers
The influencers will need to go in another post but I will leave a teaser here by mentioning Amy Collier (@amcollier). I had the pleasure to meet Amy online during #CampusTech in Boston for aVirtually Connecting session that I hosted as the virtual buddy with Apostolos Koutropoulos (@koutropoulos) as onsite buddy. I still apologize for pronouncing Collier wrong that day Amy. I am fascinated with Amy’s discussions of “not-yetness” and truly draw inspiration from her writing and speaking. You can see her speaking at #DigPed Cairo hosted by Maha at this link. Amy pulled out the description “The Normals” during a session and that stuck with me as one of many themes for me throughout the event. More on the content of the event in another post.
Were you at #OpenEd16 or watching from afar? Feel free to contribute to the conversation here below in the comments or please link to your blog post about the event.