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Last Friday we had an eager audience for Brian Lamb's visit for our Dialogue Day on Learning Objects, Wikis, And Other Curious Things. I'd say this blog summary is delayed as some people really despise things posted on April 1, but I have some other excuses.
First of all, you can find Brian's presentation materials on our Ocotillo Learning Objects wiki, which is a Wiki-RO (Ready Only)-- meaning that the wiki requires an pass key for editing (thanks to spammers). On the day of Brian's visit, we temporarily opened it up wide.
What worked well was starting off right away with a discussion and hands on wiki activity, where Brian posed a few questions related to "You may already be a learning objects user...". He asked participants to compose their responses in their own on the spot created wiki page using the barest of simple instructions.
It actually took very little effort, sweat, or pain for our audience of 20+ wiki newbies to jump right on and add their responses. Our audience was a mixed bag of faculty, technologists, even a Vice Chancellor, all with no wiki experience. It worked like magic, amazing me as I had being trying to cajole some people all year long to use wikis for collaboration, note sharing, etc. So what I needed was a suave, humorous Canadian to get them started.
While Brian continued with his presentation on Learning Object Dreams and more, I quickly went in to the Recent Changes to extract out the wiki responses to a summary page that fed the before lunch focus.
And they asked for more of the same.
Following lunch, Brian bravely demonstrated his skill for taking presentation turns where needed, asked participants to contribute what was the "Muddiest" point of the morning discussions and let the audience pick what to focus the afternoon on.
By the end, we had more than a handful of folks asking about where they could use wikis, probably at least 20 new flickr accounts created, and more people asking about using RSS than I had heard in my system over the last year. There was a great deal of excitement when Brian demo-ed creating hotspots in flickr images, and I think there was a lot of agreement that for digital images as learning objects, flickr provides many of the "hooks" they might need.
Over the weekend, our Blackboard technical director was asking about creating a wiki for some new portal design discussions.
I've seen a number of these full day workshops where the participation drops 25% after lunch, but this crowd stuck around, and could not soak up enough of the information Brian blasted out. And there was little of the glazed eye look that long workshops can bring. A workshop like this feels magical.
So no foolin, we got some good things going here. I rewarded Brian by taking him and his visiting family up to our cabin in Strawberry for the weekend, enjoying the tranquility, the scenery of the Verde Canyon Railroad and Jerome ("the town too tough to die") as well as a fun 4 wheel jaunt through the forests. Today we let the Lambs loose to see what sorts of havoc they could cause south of the border.