Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Time Challenge

I've been feeling a time challenge lately. I purposely limit the projects that I get involved in so that I can commit myself to them fully. I took some time to renew my resources this past week, but I'm feeling a little time crunch too.

Time To Renew
On Thursday and Friday, I took time to go to a great free conference at Princeton University in New Jersey. The time I have spent in my various network tools - reading blogs, participating in PLN-type Voicethreads, sharing in Twitter, and attending webcasts - really made this conference a very different experience from the last one I attended at Kean University in the fall.

I had the opportunity to meet several online contacts at dinner and met some new individuals as well. When I went to Kean, I knew I would meet Kevin Jarrett. He was very gracious in sharing his table at the conference with me. It was there that I met an interesting group of New Jersey technologists.

This past Thursday, I had a opportunity to meet several people that I have been networking with over the last year: Kevin Jarrett, Vicki Davis, Kristen Hokanson, Robin Ellis, Pat Sine, and Kathy Schrock. I follow and am followed by all six on Twitter and we've shared some resources, questions, and answers over time. It was nice to be able to sit and talk a little. We were joined by several of the other presenters and organizers of the conference. There was a lot of talk about the topics to be covered over the course of the two day program. I would not have had this chance without the time I've spent with them online.

I had the chance to reconnect on Friday with someone I met at Kean and re-exchanged email addresses to try to keep in touch. All in all, the more I get out to conferences the better equipped I am to provide my students with new and exciting projects.

Time To Learn Something New
One major plus to the event was the way I used the laptop this time. At Kean, it took me almost the whole first day to find out the password to the visitor wifi. At Princeton, it was an open network. I just clicked on the guest wifi and started work.

Vicki asked if I wanted to be part of a live blog panel, so I took the opportunity. Instead of having my notes stuck in Word it is part of the live blog. We took notes during the Thursday evening session, the Friday morning's first panel session, and the Friday afternoon's last
panel. Friday's late morning panel was Ustreamed (you'll have to hover over the archived videos to choose the one labeled Princeton and the video to the left which is currently untitled) with a Chatzy chat. I saw a lot of people wandering in an out of the various live blogs, chats, and Ustreams over the course of the two days. I think it would be very hard to sit an watch a live blog versus a Ustream, but at least we did the best we could.

My Contribution
As the Princeton conference went on, I started tagging the websites mentioned via Diigo and into delicious. For links from the conference, go to or just search for 08princeton in either social bookmarking tool.

The Time Challenge
This week, my seventh grade is beginning the editing work on the Middle School 1001 Flat Tales project. I volunteered to help out on two other projects: Dennis Richard's Learning Beyond Boundaries proposal and Vicki Davis' Horizon Project judging. Both are well worth your effort if you have some time. I wish I could have a class work as peer reviewers on the Horizon Project, but with the seventh grade working on the flat tales and my eighth grade having a very tenuous schedule with my class due to impending graduation, it's just impossible right now.

May is going to be busy, but a great cap to a lot of learning in my school and personally.

Image Citation:
Reynolds, Leo. "squared circles - Clocks." Leo Reynold's photostream. 2005 Nov 6. 2008 May 4.


  1. Thanks for so generously sharing your experience at the Princeton conference - both during and after!

    I followed the live blogging sessions that you were involved in and have to admit I didn't get as much out of them as I would have with a UStream feed and back channel. I just followed your link to the archives and can already see that it will be more valuable to me than the live blogging was.

    In the past year I have really been pushing my learning modes. I've recorded a few of my reflections as I've tried on a new learning style. I have to say I'm getting much more comfortable listening, reading and participating in the backchannel. (I still can't walk and chew gum though ;-)).

    I'd be interested in knowing if the act of live blogging enhanced or detracted from your learning. Could you fully attend to the speakers? Did you need to? Do you feel like you missed anything? Did the blogging, especially in a group help your understanding?

    Yesterday I read Terry Anderson's post Back Channel Contention. One of the obstacles to learning that he talks about is the challenge of continuous partial attention. I agree with him that it is probably related to your generation and certainly to your exposure to various modes of communication. I know I struggle with this challenge. Do you? Do you see your students fully attend to anything?

  2. Diane:
    I read through your reflections and find that I much prefer to have at least an audio stream with the chat. I don't know how long I would have hung in for the live blogging, myself.

    You raise some interesting questions about attending to multiple things at the same time. I know I have an extremely hard time being in the chat room in webcasts and listening to the webcast - to the degree that I have to listen to them as podcasts later.

    While I was at Princeton, I got a lot out of each session as I live blogged. I tried to gather the points that summarized what was being spoken about. I knew that those outside the room couldn't hear or see what I was. I was listening and writing notes that I hoped would help me back outside the room while trying to make it clear those attending online. This is also why I started tagging into delicious.

    That said, the day was a blur, but I have my live blog notes online to go back to. I know I missed a lot of the comments going back and forth because I was trying to stay focused on the presenters. I did glance at the additional comments when I could and respond as I felt able.

    Additionally, I heard a couple of the presentations twice between Thursday and Friday. This helped my attention.

    I will have to read Terry Anderson's post. I do have trouble with continuous partial attention myself. It's not something that I am going to consciously improve, but I notice subtle changes in my ability to attend to multiple things in online learning situations.

    My students do no better than I do, I think. They do fully attend in bursts in math class - maybe not all students at the same time, but individually. In computer class, we haven't really done anything to the same degree of backchanneling that I did on Friday, so it would be hard to assess.

    I think many of us struggle online with these issues. Thanks for the questions.

  3. Ann,

    I was very interested in reading about your experiences connecting with people with whom you had previously interacted online.

    Did you feel that Twitter conversations made contact f2f easier? How did the real life conversations compare with cyber connections?

    With NECC looming in the not so distant future, the answer to these questions is becoming increasingly important to me!


  4. I think it is so cool that you got to meet with people in person with whom you have some sort of online connection with. Very neat.
    As for time ... I wish I had more of it.

  5. Hey Kevin:
    It really is nice to meet these online personalities in real life. The time went so quickly, though. I think we're all time challenged. There's only so much time in the day and so much more that I'd like to fit in every week, like your Day in a Sentence entries. By the way, I noticed the video up on your blog when I went to create the link to your Day in a Sentence category. Very cool. I'll stop by soon and watch.

  6. Diane:
    You're going to have so much fun at NECC. I have to wait until next year for my first NECC experience.

    Certainly, the interactions via Twitter, webcasts, Voicethreads, and blogs made it easier to converse with everyone. I can compare it reconnecting with another local gentleman that I met for two days at Kean last October. I sat with him at lunch to talk a little and we had a bit to share related to what we learned at Kean and have tried since then.

    On the other hand, the conversations with my online friends were easier. There were things I could refer to in conversation that I always wanted to know more about. We share a common knowledge of different events and happenings via all the online venues.

    The real life conversations were a bit all over the place, just like online, since there were so many of us at dinner (I think 10 or 11 of us). I hear your up to about 35 at dinner in June - wow! It was nice to meet everyone. If anything, the time went too fast.