This Friday, I am delighted to have been invited, by Dr Helen Teague, to contribute to a Teacher-Led Conference or TeachMeet* in South Texas, via Skype rather than intercontinental travel. I will be contributing a short input on the topic of Participatory Spontaneity.

This is a topic I first discussed with Helen, at e-learn 16, and I think the spur for the conversation was about presentation style, following one of the two papers I gave at the event. My memory, though Helen may correct me, was that I had been talking about the change over the prior decade, in e-learning, and encouraged the audience to interrupt my talk, and even disrupt the flow of it, and for us to collectively discover where a conversation took us. I remember having something akin to fun, at least.

So, what I want to talk about when I magically appear with the group on Friday, is how much we can transfer such approaches to teaching contexts. While I am a vocal advocate of the notion of understanding what happens in a classroom as a shared, collaborative, undertaking, a joint endeavour, there are limits to that. There are ways to structure sessions that build in opportunities for contribution, notably as educators transition themselves and their classes from more passive models to participatory ones. This process is often an anxious one, where we all can feel discomfort, and my experience at least, is that structure helps. So, when I Skype into the Lone Star State this week, all the way from Cheltenham, I will be talking about on and off line ways of thinking about who gets to participate, how we can enable it, where the learning fits into this process, and most importantly, how we need to model the behaviours we want to nurture and promote. With this last point in mind, I won’t say any more, or think any more, and will save some spontaneity for performing when the internet does it skype-y magic…

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*What is a TeachMeet? The definition offered by the organiser of this event: Teacher-led Conferences are also known as TeachMeets, Unconferences, and EdMeets. Open Space Education at its most collaborative and dynamic!

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