Oh Boy! We survived our introductory PD / launch three weeks ago, and were all set for our leap into the unknown (for some anyway) with an introduction to "23 Things" last Thursday - 28th June. But then the heavens opened and by Wednesday morning it was looking very risky to have participants travelling from all corners of East Gippsland. They might have arrived in Bairnsdale - but would be unlikely to get home again! So we made the decision to postpone until today. Just as well - practically every river in East Gippsland burst its banks by Thursday morning. The highway into Bairnsdale from far east Gippsland was completely cut by mid-afternoon. Of course, had we been further down the track with our project we would have been able to have an on-line PD day!
Today Denece and I were joined by 15 participants from 9 participating organisations. We spent the first session being enthused by Lynette Lewis and Denise McLarty from Yarra Plenty Library. They delivered a wonderful session about 'Learning 2.0'.
After a del.icio.us morning tea which included lots of networking we went back to tackle the first of the 23 Things. This involved viewing an on-line tutorial by Helen Blowers ('inventor' of the 23 Things concept) outlining the 71/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners. So far so good.
The second Thing is to create your own blog. Fingers crossed that the technology would work. We had 15 people trying to access the same website via a single wireless internet connection. And that wasn't counting the Community College staff who might also have been trying to access the internet! But all seemed to be OK, and everyone was soon creating - in most instances - their first blog. As Denise McLarty said later "there was a real energy in the room'.
Don't know where the morning went, but it was soon lunch time. Despite being told that there was hot food awaiting them we virtually had to drag people away from their blogs. Enthusiasm IS catchy!
During the afternoon session we weren't so lucky with technology. The idea was to log everyone on to LiveClassroom for a 'test run' before the participants had to tackle it in the comfort of their own community in a couple of weeks. Well, the wireless connection decided it was all just too much - a bit like trying to get on the freeway when four lanes become two! We were able to take the participants through the LiveClassroom interface, and explain the various features - and convince them that it really would work on the night!
Lovely to see that during the hiatus while we tried to sort out the technical problems everyone went back to their blog! (It seemed to be LiveClassroom that caused a problem, the blogs just slowed down a bit.)
I don't know whether I should add that Lynette, Denise, Denece and myself were on such a high about the positive reactions from all participants - despite the technical glitches - that we were still talking about it all 5 hours later after a couple of glasses of good wine and a lovely meal at a local tavern. But we were, so I will!
Next step is for Denece and myself to visit each community to talk with other interested people and assist with technicalities if necessary.