Flatclassroom Virtual Experience

This post seems quite timely to my involvement as a virtual participant in the Flatclassroom Conference in Tokyo this weekend.  The theme was “How can we help each other” and the platforms were set up for groups to collaborate on projects that would address the theme.  This is a face to face conference with virtual participants joining through backchannel chats, live stream google hangouts etc..By joining the wiki and registering I was potentially able to be virtual and collaborate with a team in Tokyo (me being in Beijing).  My expectations were high and I was pumped for this awesome experience.  Well, when it came right down to it things did not work out the way I had thought they would.  A couple of factors played into the experience:

  • delay in getting put on a team meant that collaboration had begun without me.
  • involvement on the face-face team to include me was difficult late in the game
  • slow internet and sometimes blocked sites (China) makes multi-linking and virtual participation difficult.
I think the difficulty was on the face to face groups to include the virtual participants.  I think the aim was to bridge the distance between tokyo and the virtuals but perhaps next time there could be virtual teams.  I think it would have been quite exciting to see what we as virtuals could have come up with.  There was a lot of wasted time waiting, trying to connect, searching for team members, etc…
The tools we used to connect virtually were;
-flat classroom wiki
-Ustream live
-twitter (#flatclass2013)
-google hangout
-blackboard collaborate
etherpad (a great collaborative notepad where people write in diff. colors)
-backchannel chat (which was the main area that we cam together in)

This is what we collaborated on as a reflection of the experience!

Technology is certainly changing the learning landscape.  The experience I was a part of this weekend was messy and had its flaws but it was truly incredible to see the power of connecting with others and the power of community.  Despite borders we can flatten our learning and collaborate with others – it is possible and we are at the verge of exciting things!

I learned how to navigate my way around the wikispace and grasp the scope of the project, the aims of the conferences and the vision for the future.  I learned some other valuable take-aways in the process:

  • its ok to fail – thats when real learning happens
  • community is powerful, especially online

I met some great people, followed some interesting folks on twitter and learned a great deal about the power of collaboration that can happen when the right people with the right mindset work together.

Here is a shot of us in the google hangout talking about our frustrations, learning etc…

At another time we were able to be a part of the student pitches for emerging technologies.  Through a google hangout we could ask questions, see what the students were talking about and hear their vision for technologies that are soon to be common place.

Technology changes the way in which we work together, learn from each other and effect change.  The essence of the conference was how we can help each other through global projects.  The team I was on came up with the project Kids2Kids which was privileged students working with underprivileged students who have gone through a tragedy to tell their story through ebooks that they work on together.  This project is one I would love to look at further.  Is this a new thing in a new way? Would it be possible to do this without the technology? Something to consider…..Now onto thinking about a lesson for course 1 wrap up.

2 thoughts on “Flatclassroom Virtual Experience

  • Dear Tim

    Thanks for sharing your experience at the online conference. I think Sibila also participated online and found it frustrating at times. I think the idea of having a completely online team is a great one. Maybe you could head up the next one? I would like to join the conference the next time it comes around but it does sound a bit stressful when you can’t find your team and they’ve started without you!


  • Thanks for your reflection and I hope you share this with Julie and Kim who were putting the conference on. They’ll appreciate your feedback and recommendation of virtual groups next time.

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