Another dot in the blogosphere?

My reaction to a criticism

Posted on: March 10, 2014

We are processing all the feedback that we have received for e-Fiesta 2014. I paid particular interest to the smattering of responses to the unconference component.

Why focus on the unconference? Most people have not experienced something like this and might be uncomfortable with the practice.

First, a bit of background. An unconference is an informal and somewhat emergent gathering of like-minded folk around one or more themes (social media-based learning in this case) that may stem from a larger event (the e-Fiesta in this case).

This is one person’s online feedback on one of the unconference sessions.

The first session by the #edsg group was poor. No discussion at all, because I felt like they were just hard-selling the product while trying to get people to “participate” when really, there’s nothing for people to say to that.

This person is entitled to his/her opinion, of course. I wonder what he/she thought of the second #edsg unconference session if he/she was there.

Prior to the unconference, I submitted this description at our unconference site for public voting:

A time for #edsg regulars meet up and those who are curious to find out more about this online community.

This is what the second #edsg session looked like.

Video source

This particular session was a tweetup, a face-to-face meet up among people who normally only see each other online. We might only see each other in person once a year. This meeting was like having a conversation over tea, but with several on-lookers and potential participants.

After some preliminary introductions on who we were and where we were from, we dived into discussion. We discussed issues that emerged in Twitter over the previous weeks. The audience and lurkers were welcome to chime in just like we practise online in #edsg.

In fact, we ended up using a modified fish bowl method of discussion. The #edsg regulars unconsciously arranged themselves in the middle of the room so that the audience surrounded it. It mirrored what #edsg is like every Tuesday night with regulars taking centre stage and semi-participants and lurkers hanging out in the periphery.

But no one is ever excluded from conversation. It is far easier to chime in online because there is no one to interrupt.

There was no selling of any product at the second session because #edsg is not a product. It is a community of passionate educators who choose to set aside time to share and to support one another.

I thank the person responded for the feedback. But I ask that the experience be taken in its entirety. What emerged was a two-parter on #edsg.

I would also rather experience sessions like part 2 because that is what unconferences should really be like. But given that we limited each session to just 10-15 minutes, this might not be realistic. I have been to unconferences where the facilitator has 20-30 minutes. In a longer session, the #edsg unconference experience might have been a combination of both parts.

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