For me, it doesn’t get better than working with Alan Levine. So it was an honour and a gas to crank it up again for the EDUCAUSE Conference, where we delivered a pre-conference workshop officially entitled “Decentralization of Learning Resources: Syndicating Learning Objects Using RSS, Trackback, and Related Technologies”, but which eventually took on the snappier moniker of Rip. Mix. Feed.
(And as usual, Alan’s blogging trigger finger is quicker than mine off the draw, so I’ll be giving a less detailed account and instead refer you over to his posting.)
When we proposed this workshop many months ago, we envisioned an applied version of the presentations about Weblogs, RSS and Trackback and learning we did with D’Arcy Norman for MERLOT and NMC events. But if you’ve followed our weblogs the past few weeks you may have noticed that we have gone cuckoo for social bookmarking tools and Flickr… so we ended up creating a sizable section on these tools, in addition to having a discussion on varying metadata models.
Alan and I were both cramming the preparations for this workshop into hectic schedules, so the authoring of the materials was mostly done last week in a series of epic late-night wiki sessions. We were once again impressed with the utility of wikis as a gonzo collaborative tool. The contours of the event evolved rapidly, though the print materials had to be captured in a relatively premature stage of development — which meant that we may have set a record for typos in an EDUCAUSE text, resembling a slightly above-average output for those monkeys pounding away at their typewriters in that barn in rural Quebec. Normally Alan and I would have previewed our materials for the webloggers out there, but we really went down to the wire with this one. (And I should apologise to Alan for that, for though we were both working at the last minute, I was the more egregious procrastinator.)
I haven’t seen the evaluations yet, but my gut tells me that we went over fairly well. Interestingly, of all the technologies we had participants take for a spin, the one that gave them the most trouble, by far, was finding RSS feeds (even though we tried to provide hints and links) and adding them to Bloglines. Given that this is one of the more mature tools in our arsenal, this is a bit surprising and more than a bit disturbing.
A note on the photo above. To give a sense of how remote tools might play well with each other via RSS, Trackback, and tags we divided the participants into two groups, giving half the group a home with Alan’s western-themed “Howdy Objects” set of weblog, aggregator, bookmark and Flickr accounts, and my own Canuck-ifed “Objects, Eh” set. We decided at the last second that we’d dress our parts, and I hastily packed hoser-wear. Being clad like that changed my first day experience of EDUCAUSE considerably… the security guard at the reception took an instant dislike to me and eventually nearly kicked me out (for “disrespect”), and I was able to pass through the vendor displays more or less unmolested. People really backed off. I kind of liked the effect, and kept the toque on all day.
Thanks to the participants, and a huge salute to Alan, who did a stellar job of facilitation. The only way it could have been more fun for me was if the Third Amigo had been able to make it down. You were missed, D’Arcy…