Kitchen Conferences

So, I wanted to attend a few sessions held this weekend at Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation. Problem: I am at home with my two kids, activities, lunches, dishes… you know – the stuff that real life is made up of. Solution: UStream in the kitchen! I set up my laptop on the kitchen counter where I could view and participate in the sessions, and presto! The only problem was dirty or wet hands. They are not the keyboard’s best friend. And, even if I could not attend live, sessions and backchannel chats are archived.

But, I think that this type of professional development is so valuable in our busy lives. Many teachers can’t seem to find the time for professional development. Both asynchronous and in this case, synchronous (UStream, TalkShoe, Elluminate…), opportunities have really grown over the last few years. They have helped me out tremendously. However, so far, they have not really taken off in the more “scholarly” educational conference venus like SITE, AERA, NCTE, NCTM, CUE and the like. Granted, some do have a few webcast sessions, but little to no opportunity to “participate”. Of course, things like membership and dues play more of a role here, but how long are we these “fences” to professional development going to stay up in this web 2.0, connected, collaborative world? How much do such fences contribute to NOT attending?

alone.jpgFinally, those not involved in these current conversations are probably not even aware of these types of opportunities. After all, I only found out about them from reading a few select blog posts and from a few tweets that came in on folks that I follow. What about those folks who don’t have developing borderless 2.0 networks? All the more reason to hop on board, I’d say. Teachers NEED to know about these opportunities with such limitations on time, finances, and schedule.

And, just as I am writing this, Will Richardson tweeted a new post that fits like a glove here! My point exactly. No RSS? No Twitter? No Network? Then, you are most likely not to be in the “know”. Will writes:

“But I would still venture to guess that 75% (maybe more) of educators in this country still don’t know that they can have a network….The passionate learning network of which I am a part is an amazing and important part of my life. The fact that most teachers still have no idea that is possible is distressing on one hand, motivating on the other.”

I couldn’t agree more. Teachers need time to talk, share, network,… and that time is often not going to be during the school day when their students are there. But, sadly, I think, as Will writes, that most are not really aware other options. My graduate students are not aware of such options and are so excited to be learning about them in class… one class in their entire degree program. Hopefully I can get some of them to explore these “kitchen conferences” and realize that their professional world and lifeline is not contained in the walls of their school or classroom. 🙂

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2 Comments on “Kitchen Conferences”


  1. […] Well, the latest discussion happening over on Will Richardson’s blog in conjunction with my prior blog post got me to thinking. What does our local school district offer in terms of professional development […]

  2. Beth Gallob Says:

    Couldn’t agree more with you and Will. From the professional development persepctive, it’s critical that educators have opportunities, and one of the most convenient and affordable ways to offer these opportunities is via the virtual classroom.

    Here’s an interesting story about how the New York Teacher Centers provide ongoing professional development for more than 200,000 teachers.(http://www.elluminate.com/sales/casestudies/NYIT.pdf)

    One point I’d like to make is that one way for this to happen on a large scale is that educators have to demand it. Grass roots efforts have been effective on an institution, district, and state level.

    The other point I’d like to make is that Elluminate understands the need for a community of educators to connect, share content and experiences, develop best practices – all the things that foster professional development. So we are continuing with existing programs like our Elluminati user community (http://www.elluminate.com/community/elluminati.jsp) and our Centers of Excellence (http://www.elluminate.com/community/center_of_excellence.jsp). At the same time, we are working to develop additional innovative and creative ways for educators to come together in online communities. So stay tuned!

    – Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication


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