Friday, September 24, 2010

Seven Shanghai Surprises

I have just returned from the Learning 2.010 conference in Shanghai, China where I was invited to facilitate a cohort of learners on the topic of social media. It was an incredible experience in so many ways. Here are just a few of my thoughts on the experience.

1. English
- I was amazed my how much English signage there is in Shanghai. All of the street signs are in Chinese and English. The ATM machines and the ticket machines for the Metro all provide English as an option. Sometimes the English translations are interesting, but I couldn't even begin to translate my English to Chinese, so I won't complain.

2. Better City Better Life - This motto is everywhere in Shanghai. Guy Kawasaki speaks about the importance of having a motto. China has embraced this concept whole heartedly. The construction in Shanghai is beyond imagination. And, at every construction site you will see "Better City, Better Life."

3. Unconferences really work - I have been to several unconferences and I even run one every year at BLC. They are daunting to put together because you have to trust in your participants to build the conference. The Learning 2.010 team was extremely brave to take a previously structured conference and reconstruct it in the unconference model. I think it really helped to have the facilitators there to help run sessions, but by the last session the unconference ran itself.

4. Social Media in education has its benefits and challenges - The topic for my cohort was "Social Media." On the first day we wrote about the benefits and challenges of using social media in the classroom. I think my cohort made some excellent observations.

5. Building Community is up to the Community - Facilitating a group of teachers is challenging. Michael Lambert and I did the best we could to meet the needs of the people in our group. We were constantly adapting and changing our plans to try to react on our feet to the feedback we were getting. I hope we succeeded, but in the end I realized it really isn't up to me. Each person has to find their own way into the learning. I can help guide them, but we each need to take responsibility for our own growth and connections.

6. My Edtech Rockstars really are Rockstars - It was amazing to be given the opportunity to spend a week teaching and learning with people whom I have respected and admired for years. I felt incredibly honored to be in their company. I had the chance to work and hang out with Kim Cofino, Darren Kuropatwa, Wes Fryer, Alec Couros, Jeff Utecht, Julie Lindsay, Tim Lauer, Steve Hargadon, Gail Lovely and Melinda Alford, Chris Betcher, Gail Lovely, Michael Lambert, Laura Heikkila, Ann Krembs , and Madeleine Brookes. Most of whom I had never met face-to-face. They all proved to be as inspiring in real life as they have been online.

7. Jeff Utecht is an Amazing Host and Tour Guide - Shanghai would not have been the same without him. He took us to eat some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten, showed us the sights and taught us how to bargain like a pro. I am profoundly grateful to him for everything. Thanks so much Jeff!

And of course @intrepidteacher's charming wit was a bonus!
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