Instead of doing the elevator pitch for today (because, I am pleased to say, I do not actually ride in institutional elevators anymore, ha ha), I wanted to do the “regrets” post, because I really do regret not having been more proactive about the asynch spaces of MYFest starting back in June. This is the first time I ever participated in a Zoom-driven event, and I am just not a Zoom person. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about Zoom and its potential… but I also realized that when you have a calendar of Zoom events, it really sucks all the oxygen out of the asynch spaces. Everyone’s attention is focused on the calendar events — especially when it is such a full and exciting calendar like the MYFest calendar has been all summer long!
My previous experience with events like MYFest (well, kind-of sort-of like MYFest) was with asynchronous cMOOCs (remember the cMOOCs?), like Dave Cormier’s Rhizos or the Connected Courses experience (which I am pretty sure is where I first got to know Maha!). Those events took shape before Zoom ate online education, and the focus was on people blogging and tweeting, and the RSS network that allowed us to pull together the contributions people were making in their separate spaces into a shared space. I still have my blog posts from those events, and it is so cool to be able to look back on all that years later: Connected Courses, Rhizo15, HumanMOOC, etc. (And for MYFest, I’ll be able to look back at my MYFest Padlet/Blog, which I’ll export as a PDF just in case Padlet bites the dust, as it probably will sooner or later.)
Well, blogging did not happen for MYFest. The Twitter was really nice, but blogging just doesn’t seem to be a thing anymore, not like it used to be. Back in May I got a blog network framework set up, just assuming (wrongly) that most people would be blogging and/or tweeting. But instead, we were mostly Zooming. Alan ran the wonderful DailyCreates for MYFest, but most of the regulars there were not actually MYFesters, but the ever-inspiring DailyCreate crowd (it was really fun for me to reconnect with them at Twitter as a result this summer!).
There was the Slack of course, but I did not learn to love the Slack, mostly because things in the Slack are not meant to be linkable or shared beyond the Slack. No RSS. And no personal streams either like at Twitter. So the Slack, while I’m sure it has its virtues, was not my kind of space. Plus it’s going to all disappear, even sooner than we expected, based on recently announed changes to the Slack plan itself.
As a result I’ve been thinking about what a good solution might be for next time to better promote asynch spaces and engagement. And it needs to be a good SIMPLE solution, because MYFest is already pretty complex as it is; it required some huge effort from the organizers, especially Maha and Rissa. It would be good to think about ways to decrease that administrative effort required going forward, and definitely not to increase it.
So, I thought back to my fully online fully asynch classes, which lasted 14 weeks (pretty similar to MYFest)… and one of the best things I did to build a sense of class community was the Daily Announcements, which were also available as a daily email for people who wanted it in their inboxes. Here’s a screenshot:
It was a blog, of course, and it modeled blogging for my students, while also sharing information with them every day. With MYFest, it would be so easy to do a daily blog like that, highlighting items from the previous day’s events, things from the Twitter, things from the Slack… making the curation part of the community-building right from Day 1 and continuing all the way through. And then people could also get that as an email if they wanted, including people who were not even registered for MYFest but just wanted to learn what we were doing.
Therefore: I hereby volunteer to do a Daily Announcements blog for the next MYFest. That would be completely SEPARATE from the Zoom emails. This would not be about Zoom clicks and urls; this would be about the PEOPLE of MYFest, and what we were learning and doing every day, day by day by day. It would include sharing the Zoom videos and slidedecks etc., plus so much more than that, from Twitter and the Padlets and the Slack (or equivalent), and from people’s other writing. Plus I think there might be more writing if if we are running this SPLOT right from the start as a shared writing space for people to participate in.
That way, the curation would happen in real time, and it would serve a community-building purpose in real time, unlike what we’re trying to do, attempting to catch up with too little curation too late. I honestly feel really badly that I did not do this for MYFest22 because the curation effort is not going to even begin to do justice to all the great things that were happening in MYFest all along, every day, in June and July and August. REGRET. But instead of beating myself up about it, I keep reminding myself that this is what happens when you do something for the very first time, right? I taught those online classes for quite a few years before I really found my groove. And one of the best parts about that groove, both for the students and for me, was the Daily Announcements, so I would like to do that for MYFest23.
I think it would be totally fun, while also being a useful problem-solver. 🙂