I sit here tonight checking my to do list and my luggage check list. I leave tomorrow for Fort Lauderdale for the 2008 School Library Journal Leadership Summit. You know I asked some of my state folks some time back when I first saw the posting of the summit’s dates who would go and represent SC. I sit here and realize now that I never did find out, so it will be with interest that I seek and find out once I arrive at the summit’s hotel.
How did I get to go?
No one in my state selected me. Instead, I ask as many connected people that I could think of how one gets invited, and the next thing you know Brian Kenney, the editor-in-chief of School Library Journal is calling me and asking if I am interested in coming. At first I tell him, yes, I’d love to come, but there was NO WAY my school could afford to send me, particularly in light of recent budget cuts across our state. I didn’t dare ask for funding for this trip since I already had asked to go to Philadelphia in January for Educon 2.1, and was told yes—if I could pay for it. Sigh. Not happening at the moment (but I haven’t given up hope yet.)
Well, there is one small requirement…
Brian then said he might be able to get me there, compliments of SLJ. Okay, I have to admit I was SPEECHLESS. I was like, “Sir, where did you get my name?” (I was getting suspicious to tell the truth.) He told me Joyce Valenza. Okay yes, i nearly dropped my teeth. After I regained some composure, he then shared that it was contingent on some answers to some questions. Mostly the questions centered around my comfort level with social networking sites, blogging platforms, and video. After I suppose giving sufficient answers he asked if I would come and be a “tech guru” for the summit. I told him I didn’t want to lead him on to think that I was an expert at any one thing, though I did have a comfort level in many areas we discussed. He assured me that was enough, and he really wanted me to come. (I can only assume he wanted a “practicing” school librarian for the job.)
So I accepted this invitation, not really being sure what would be expected of me. I found out last Thursday. I am going to orchestrate a Ustream (the SLJ Summit Channel) & backchannel there to stream out a panel discussion that will be archive for later viewing. WOW. Brian said he wanted to use a school librarian for the job which is why no real “expert” is being brought in. I feel honored to be asked, and am going to do my best to make this happen for all the LMS’s out there like me who hoped and prayed that eventually there would be a way for me to join in.
Will this impact other organizations?
I pay my dues to ALA/AASL & SCASL every year, and sometimes I wonder what am I getting from my membership? Well now more than any other time, I feel like I can have my voice heard, all through the tools that I use. And these same tools are allowing me to participate in many ways, including Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, and more. My hope is that these same organizations I continue my membership in will see positive effects from the activities I help contribute to here at the Summit, and embrace these tools as well, allowing some sessions or other conference events to be streamed out to members and nonmembers alike.
How do I know the impact?
One of my platforms back at NECC 08 in that panel discussion I participated in was that our group (LMS’s) must quit preaching to the choir of only LMSs that we network with, and instead branch out to other groups in the field, including (but not limited to) content area conferences for teachers, instructional technologists, and administrators on a variety of levels. I know a concern for ones unfamiliar with these tools (and their potential) is the fear that membership or conference attendance will go down due to the content being free from other sources. I am not suggesting everything from the conferences be streamed out free. On the contrary, i am asking that consideration for a few things be made available. These freely offered programs would have quite the opposite effect. Instead of ending attendance at conferences, I predict more will come. Getting in the mix of the tools and interacting with like-minded educators makes participants want (no literally crave) the face-to-face meeting. And what better place to have face to face conversations than at the professional organization’s conferences? I certainly would not end my membership. And quite honestly, i would suddenly see and feel more value in that membership. If any are skeptical, consider Educon 2.0 at Chris Lehmann‘s school, the Science Leadership Academy. The first ever conference created to bring forward minded educators together for the purpose of face to face conversations was 100% freely streamed for anyone who wished to participate. Not only streamed, but also mixed in tools including cover it lives, blogs, wikis, chat tools, and more. But I don’t recall a SINGLE Powerpoint. The wiki for the conference asked everyone who was participating, either in person or virtually, to add their name to the “attending” wiki. So the conference left an indelible mark on all who attended, physically or virtually, with the true understanding that the gathering was not about membership or even a conference, but instead about conversations and a focus on moving towards engaged learning that has authenticity. And that is why Chris this year is expecting three times the number who attended last year, which I want to say was roughly 250. I was actually lucky enough to be one of the attendees last year, and my attendance forged friendships i will in all likelihood maintain for a lifetime.
My point here is our organizations will suffer NO loss of membership (funding) or attendance. If anything, mixing in all these tools will INCREASE both and allow people to have deeper learning that will be taken back to our schools and learners.
Setting a lofty goal
So that is my goal in attending this summit. Whether I will be successful or not is still up for debate. Some of our members are tough sells. After all, our print reference books will always be there and be reliable. Sorry folks. This is my passion, so I am ecstatic to be attending. I probably will not be in front of my camera at all, and maybe not even in the backchannels, as I strive to capture the heart of what I stream and attempt to bring my virtual viewers’ voices to the floor of the summit to be heard. But I’m okay being behind the scenes this time.
Plan to join me, okay? I will twitter from here. I will send info to my SCASL list as well. And when I know specifics about sessions I’m streaming (right now just two, the Joyce Valenza panel and the closing keynote) I will post here as well. If your networks are larger or different from mine, PLEASE share so that we can WOW the socks off the powers that be who may still be reluctant about embracing these tools. And wish me luck!
Now, back to packing.
- Clothes – check
- Laptop – check
- Camera – check
- Firewire – check
- Sandals – check (should I?)