I'm feeling a bit tired and I've been a bit distracted all day long. I think some of it is mental fatigue as a result of having so many intriguing ideas floating around in my head from yesterday's Day One of the TALO Swapmeet/ Unconference. In some ways, it's just as well that the day got off to a slow start because things really started accelerating through the afternoon. In another way, although I would have loved to have the opportunity to be there today, my brain would be hard pressed to process more than a small percentage of what I did get to sample. So today, as I led my class through some very traditional schooling experiences (spelling, writing, multiplication tables, some assembly practice and Go-Go Golf) and spent some quiet anti-social time (two yard duties on the oval), I mulled over what should end up in this post.
One thing about TALO is that it is very ''big picture" and wading into big, curly questions is a specialty. From my viewpoint, the one drawback is getting an unconference going is that without a designated moderator, no-one wants to push their way to the front in a group of educators without any pecking order (which is a good thing). Thankfully, some people have leadership presence whether they are comfortable with that label or not, and Leigh kick-started the afternoon by suggesting that those with less attendance opportunity be up first thereby inviting me to talk to my ideas about E-Portfolios/Online Teachers.
What really amazes me is the way this scattered group of people from all corners of the Antipodes (and beyond via Alex's Breeze session) just effortlessly pull and manipulate available technology to reinvent the conventions of professional learning. There's photos from mobile phones loading periodically to Flickr, there's data projectors beaming dual perspectives onto spare wall space (who needs an interactive whiteboard or presentation screen). Jumping in and showing a resource of interest (Mathematics YouTube videos, anyone?) is not only OK but encouraged. I've never felt so comfortable with people I've never met before - except I have. It's a redefinition of what to means to know someone, what it means to learn from someone, to be someone. There's free and open conversation and no-one playing the role of expert or puppetmaster (except with Bill's slideshow - how eerie!) and if I play the "I'm only a primary school teacher" card, I rightly get admonished for being negative and undermining my own contributions. This is really different (for me) way of learning - when the conversation and digital reference points kick in, anyone can add fuel to the topic at hand, redirect or play devil's advocate to force out further explanation. Contrast that to a regular conference keynote or presentation where someone holds court and pushes out their worldview without challenge to an audience conditioned to respectful silence punctuated with occasional polite applause.
So, as I process the time I spent at TALO07 and then consume the media created on Day Two, can I just offer thanks to Robyn, Stephan, Michael, Mike, Vonnie, Peter, Pete, Leigh, Sunshine, Bill, Botts, Jo, Rose and anyone else in Room 305, Adelaide TAFE for your interaction, energy and colleageality. And thanks also to the world's lowest fuss houseguest, Alex Hayes, who tolerated my family's need for routine and was an instant pal to my youngest son. It really was a pleasure.