It has been a slow month for blogging and I am quite a bit behind in setting down various notes on from paper to the digital page. I presently have 3 articles partly written around Sharepoint and other tools on the LA Learning Platform (Sharepoint & Web 2.0, hosted vs local Sharepoint and SafeMail vs alternative email solutions), 2 additions to the Standard Network Configuration / Build for our schools, and so on. However, this time I want to speak about TeachMeets, having spoken at one again about a week and a half ago.
Most times I have spoken at TeachMeets it has been a fair chunk of rhetoric (not being a classroom practitioner) and every time it has been a last minute thing, to fill up space and mainly because I have been inspired by something I have at that particular TeachMeet or the event associated with it. This time was meant to be different. I knew I had what I wanted to speak about, had stuff ready to show … but it never works out like that does it! I do have a good excuse though.
Last January I retired from EduGeek.net, and if you don’t know what it is then think of it as an online community, herded carefully to share ideas and answer each other’s ideas. Nothing new there really … except that it is now one of the top hits in google, has the backing of thousands of members and is now a company. It earns money which is ploughed back into the site, running an annual conference for members (free to attend) and helps fund the running of the Technical Help Point at BETT each year …
So why would I retire from being on the staff (a volountary role) just as it takes off? Why would I step down from a group I had been part of since a fortnight or so after it started up? Why would I move on from a group where I had a position of authority and control? Well … I didn’t. Leave that is. I discovered that I had to get a balance between work and life. I also discovered that my use of EduGeek really needed to go back to about the collaboration and sharing. I was missing that bit and it was a really important decision.
My need for collaboration has always been great … not because I don’t have ideas, I do … but I need to share and compare them. Since getting online properly 11 years ago I have been lucky to be involved with a number of sterling communities … starting with Alt.Fan.Pratchett and other newsgroups (I remember with fondish memories the circular arguments between the windows, linux and RISC fanbois on uk.education.schools-it!), then moving onto JISC Mailing lists, Becta forums and then I found EduGeek … a sense of coming home occurred and after a bit of cajoling into doing more behind the scenes work I discovered that I was one of the admins … a respected member of the community and running things with the support and direction of the EduGeek EduGod, Chris Byers. But I continued with my other networks too … I was on twitter mainly due to Russ Dyas (fellow EduGeek Admin), facebook due to a plethora of old friends, blogging due to Peter Ford and I have a presence on most social network / web 2.0 sites … partly to protect my online presence (ooohhh … that is another post that I need to finish actually). I have had a few prods recently about it being strange about stepping down from an EduGeek role too … in spite of repeatedly explaining about needing a life, work commitments and having to do other stuff.
So … what does this have to do with TeachMeets? Well, at TeachMeet Bett 2010 I was originally going to talk about collaboration and the benefits of it and EduGeek.net was going to be my principle example, but I ditched that … not because Edugeek.net was the wrong example … but because I got inspired. Although collaboration could be about one site or one group, it plainly isn’t with me.
One of the previous presenters that night demonstrated a fantastic site, http://linkbun.ch, as a URL shortener and once you have put a list of URLs on the page it will give you a single shortened URL. Click on it and the page gives you the option the entire bunch … each link in a new tab. http://linkbun.ch/kc2y was the list I put together and this is pretty much my list of sites where I have learnt how to collaborate. Translating this to teachers, they could get the various resources they need for a lesson and just send a single link out to kids, translating it too techies then this could be the various FAQs and how-to guides for soemone else to complete a piece of work. It has lots of uses for me and it was just perfect to show people where I use to collaborate.
So .. to answer the original question, I didn’t leave an internet start-up … I am just looking for the next stage in my journey (but glad to have various places to stop back at on my way around).
I’m also wondering at which point I will turn up to a TeachMeet and actually talk about what I planned to instead of having a cracking idea on the night!