When Chris Lehmann first announced the dates of EduCon last summer, I was disappointed by the fact that I would not be able to attend, since there were already two other activities that were on my calendar, the first was to accompany and coach our High School Science Olympiad team at the first event of the year and the second was the annual Northern Illinois Computer Educators (NICE) Mini-Conference. I was already torn by which I should attend and the addition of EduCon really made this more of a dilemma.
As the year progressed and more events were added to my calendar, word came that the date of our Science Olympiad event was moved two weeks into the future and now it was only EduCon and the NICE Mini-Conference on this weekend. This, however, occurred in November, when my life was being turned upside down by family issues and I made the decision to stay closer to home rather that be away for the weekend. As it turns out, this is the first of four straight Saturdays of school obligations, so it made the decision clearer, at least for me at the time.
I was disappointed that I was not going to be able to attend EduCon, but I thought that I would try to bridge to the conference with a NICE session. But things didn’t work out as planned and I was not able to make the connection and for this, I am disappointed. But I know that David Jakes did an outstanding job in my place, better than I probably would have done. So I moderated a great conversation amongst a small group of technology leaders at NICE which was fruitful and engaging, so all was not a loss.
By the time that I returned home Saturday afternoon, I was exhausted and the group at EduCon had already started their final sessions before reflection. So instead of jumping in a chat room and participating live, I opted to run the errands that had not yet been completed for my wife, so that she could continue planning for the Middle School Musical that they are doing in seven weeks, High School Musical. It was the right decision at the time, to preserve domestic tranquility.
On Sunday, I awoke to the desire to awake and then jump into the conference and participate and learn. Alas, the dishwasher and washing machine needed minor repairs, so unfortunately my honey-do list trumped that my desire to engage in my own learning. This wasn’t so bad, because one of the sessions I wanted to participate in was not being uStreamed, so I completed these repairs instead.
To make a long story short, I am left wondering if the short term decisions that I made, which all seemed like the best choices at the time, was the best decision for me in the long run. Have I missed out on opportunities to learn, to network, to help mold and shape my ideas and thoughts to help design new ways of learning? I know that I will be able to review many of the conversations that had, but have I been left behind or am I going to be left out? These are questions that I am having, regretting the fact that so many people have been energized for by the experience. But as I think about it, isn’t this a feeling that many others are going to have, as we expand our worlds and learning networks to include more people from many different places around the world. How can we encourage those who are either unable to attend because of distance, because of other demands on our time, or even by the obstacles of language? How does the conversation continue for all, those who were able to converge at the same physical time and space with those who are coming into the conversation later? Or those who were unable to attend more than one conversation at the same time in the same physical space? It always comes down to choices.
So, I will sit down and begin to chip away at engaging in the conversation that occurred, balancing that with the next four weeks which will be hectic, with planning for the 2008-2009 academic year (both from an IT perspective and a Curricular perspective), getting into the heart of Science Olympiad season, coming into the stretch run guiding our students in constructing our yearbook, and being a supportive husband to my wife as she works on her major school commitment, the musical, partly by being a good father and taking more of a parenting role. It will be difficult and hard, but I will persevere to become a participant in the conversation.
Oh yeah, and what is the date of EduCon 2.1? Need to get that date into my calendar ASAP so this is not an issue next year.
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