Why don’t Australian conferences see ordinary teachers as important or worthwhile enough to invite them – virtually?

Conference Tweeting gives surface indicators, commenting on ideas, repeating facts and links – without inferences. This may be the foundation of critical thinking or encourage more serious, worthier styles of participation in broader educational discourses – but face to face seminars and shared experiences using virtual worlds facilitate more creative and higher forms of interaction than hash-tagging your way across the day.

We play, talk, compare, create and interact. Face to face promotes clarification, assessment of evidence, making and judging inferences and developing appropriate strategies and tactics to solve bigger problems. From a facilitators viewpoint, the key to professional development is how to present guided inquiry, diagnose misunderstandings and negotiate meaning.

The evidence of this will be seen at this weeks SWSR conference where attendees will be inspired by Stephen Heppell and David Warlick.

Virtual worlds have not been seen as important or worthwhile enough to include in the event. The emotional expression, autobiographical stories; open communication; risk-free expression, acknowledging others, being encouraging; group cohesion; encouraging collaboration, helping, and supporting embedded in Virtual Worlds events such as VWBPE are still not a feature of Australian Educational Conferences.

“the difference between being deeply involved in a conversation and lecturing to a group. The words are different, the tone is different, the attitude is different, and the tools are different.” (Schrage, 1995, p. 5) Schrage, M. (1995). No more teams!: Mastering the dynamics of creative collaboration. New York: Currency Doubleday.

I am once again disappointed that Heppell and Warlick will speak and the organisers failed to see Second Life or a moderated Webinar important or worthwhile in the professional development of teachers.

It is little wonder classrooms can’t get past blogs and wikis (if indeed these are ever to be allowed). Empowering teachers through familiarity, skills, motivation, organisational commitment, activities, and length of time in using the media directly influence the social presence that develops in online communities. We don’t seem to even be thinking about it – let alone demonstrating it to the vast majority of those who need to see it most.

Those who will have the deeper conversations; at dinner with the keynotes are of course enjoying considerable advantage over the 99% of teachers who are locked in the core.

So how long to we keep doing this? How do we change this? How do we hold these people to account; to act and not continue to stand guard over opportunities for ordinary teachers?

**update — the event was not streamed and the wifi died according to Twitter. Maybe next time.

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