Learning from Teaching & Sharing and the Secret Garden – What I got from #RSCON3

Last weekend I took part in the 3rd edition of the Reform Symposium Worldwide e-Conference. (you can learn more about it, watch the recordings from sessions and see archives from the past editions if you click in the image above. In short, the conference is made by educators, with educators and for educators around the world. It’s an intense weekend filled with great sessions on an array of topics, all related to education and how it is changing, what we’re doing to follow the change, how and what we can do to be even better at what we do. It was an incredible experience. And in this post I’ll try to put into words what I learned from it, from the 3 parts I played in it.

# As a participant I learned so much, it’s difficult to pinpoint. I heard and reflected about the changes technology has brought into the teaching practice in many aspects (speed of spreading, reach and availability of information; the dangers of exposing yourself online (and how to protect ourselves and our students, how we have to reflect before putting things online); creating online “spaces” where teachers can collaborate and share activities; I discussed assessment, about new tools, adjusting to the new reality…

This was maybe one of the topics that stuck to my mind. The fact that teachers have to face the changes the world and education have been going through. We have to change, because the students today are not the students from 10, 15 years ago. They’re not even the same as the students from 5 years ago. Learning has even more ways (and places) for taking place. So can we expect to keep teaching as we did before?

I don’t think so, and in that sense the #RSCON3 (that’s the hashtag we used for tweeting the conference) is an innovative opportunity for teachers who are already involved in online learning/teaching/Professional development to discuss the benefits and difficulties of it. But even more importantly, it is a chance for the teachers who are still taking their first steps – or have heard about it but are still a bit afraid of or uncomfortable with it to learn more about it, find ways of getting into it – and see it’s not the bogeyman. I saw many other participants who were attending their first online conference discover what can be done, find out about fantastic resources available for free online.

I could not talk about #RSCON without mentioning the thing that leaves the strongest mark in me, and I will quote Akevy Greenblatt (@Akevy613) on his post about #RSCON to say it:

“I challenge someone to find a profession with more passionate people than educators. I am truly blessed and privileged to be an educator.”

It is impressive to see how much caring, sharing and committment there. And it’s all very evident during the whole conference.

Which brings me to an image I have about my own experience in joining the world of Twitter, Educator Blogosphere, Online tools… Up until about a year ago I used Facebook mostly for chit-chatting, keeping in touch with friends & family living far… I had joined Twitter a little before, but saw little use in it, and had no interest in it to tell you the truth…. I had never read a blog written by an educator… I knew a few websites that offered lesson plans and activities. Then after Braz-Tesol 2010 I was convinced by Jeremy Harmer to join Twitter, and he told me a few educators I should start following. And my life changed. And this is where the image comes… what I found (and am still finding, every day) is such an amazing immeasurable amount of resources, meaningful discussion, interesting ideas and reflections, online conferences, webinars, like-minded people and opportunities for learning and sharing, that all I can compare it with is a Secret Garden.

When you are introduced to the web 2.0 for teachers by someone who can show you the way, that person is actually given you the key and showing you the gate to a secret garden. Something I had no idea existed and it’s unbelievable, beautiful. Conferences such as #RSCON have as a goal to give the key and show this gate to as many educators around the world as possible.

Take the keys and enter… all you need is wanting to.

 # As a Presenter – It was my first time presenting at an online conference, my second online presentation (I have done a webinar before), first time using Elluminate as a presenter/moderator. Many of my feelings regarding presenting online are also Brad Patterson’s as he discussed it in his post about #RSCON, another great post you may want to read.

It’s strange presenting to an audience you can’t see or listen to (except when they get the microphone to ask questions in the end of the presentation). You have no idea of their emotions, their expressions… in a way it’s like presenting blind. Yes, there’s all the interaction going on in the chat box, but that too represents a bit of a challenge to me as a presenter. I never knew whether to look in the box, too afraid to love my line of thought, of drifting away from my presentation.

In a way it’s also fantastic, because I literally had people from all over the world in my session. And the chat box allows for such great interaction between participants, on the spot questions, sharing of links and resources…

Being a presenter also showed me how incredibly helpful it is to have a moderator to assist you. In my case it was extra special, because I had someone from my PLN, my friend Sabrina de Vita as my moderator. the moderator keeps an eye for questions, puts up links you mention, helps participants who are having problems – usually involving the technology… I thank Sabrina for making my presentation as smooth as it could be.

All in all, presenting at #RSCON only made me enjoy presenting online even more and looking forward to doing it again :-)

 # As an Organizer – I was lucky to be invited to become one of the organizers of  this edition of the Reform Symposium. And that was a huge learning experience in itself. To be part of a group made of such inspiring, hard-working, talented people such as Shelly Terrell, Ian Chia, Mark Barnes(who also helped moderate my session :-)), Christopher Rogers, Lisa Dabbs, Melissa Tran, Clive Elsmore, Jerry Blumengarten, Kelly Tenkley and Chiew Pang is a privilege.

I learned a lot from each of them, I saw how hard everyone worked to make the conference happen (months of preparation and planning, sleepless nights, hours and hours of work) and they do it because the believe in the power of sharing, in the importance of it. They do it for their passion for education. I am honored to be part of such a team. And I had no idea it took so much work to organize an online conference. I am sure I will be able to help much more on the next #RSCON, because I have learned so much.

So, these are my reflections about the Reform Symposium. And the message I want to end this post with is only one:


17 comments on “Learning from Teaching & Sharing and the Secret Garden – What I got from #RSCON3

  1. […] What I got from #RSCON3 Last weekend I took part in the 3rd edition of the Reform Symposium Worldwide e-Conference. (you can learn more about it, watch the recordings from sessions and see archives from the past editions … Source: cecilialcoelho.wordpress.com […]

  2. DaveDodgson says:

    Thanks for sharing your reflections Cecilia and for your contribution as an organiser of this fantastic event!

    I have found the comments about the difficulties of presenting online from you and others a little puzzling though as my experience has been quite different. I don’t feel detached from the audience so much, nor do I feel like I’m talking to myself or presenting ‘blind’. Maybe it’s just me! Or maybe I should explore it some more and blog about it ;)

    • Blogging about it sounds great Dave! I really do miss seeing people’s faces, and at the same time no one can deny interaction is even greater in the online rooms, and there are many other benefits (the biggest I think being the fact everything is recorded, not only the presentation but also the chat). But maybe I should take some classes with you! ;-)


  3. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and impressions of presenting online and helping to bring-about this interesting online event. I hope to take part in future editions myself, as this kind of event is a great way of truly democratising knowledge and learning at zero cost to teachers!

    Cheers, Ceci.


  4. Hi Ceci,
    I wish I’d been around to take part. You’ve definitely persuaded me to make time and space for it next time.
    I absolutely love your secret garden analogy. It’s so true. I think of the screen of my laptop, sitting here on my kitchen table, as being the portal to another world, buzzing with conversation and ideas and experiences, peopled with friends and colleagues and challenges and stimulation – it’s no longer a two dimensional screen but a world that opens up, layer upon layer upon layer.
    You’re so right – the world of learning has changed – is constantly changing – and it’s really exciting to be part of it!

    • seburnt says:

      Watch the recordings! It will feel like you’re there live. =)

    • I knew you would enjoy the metaphor Ceri… I know you’re as visual as I am, and besides being a very cute, poetic reference/analogy, it’s the most suitable one I ever found :-) Because the PLN and a world of learning, sharing and tools is righ under our noses and we don’t see it. And when we do discover it, usually by the hands of someone else, we are blown away! A multitude of layers of interactions and possibilities, as you said. I’m thrilled to have been shown the way, plan on getting more and more of my real staffroom colleagues to join it.

  5. sabridv says:

    Hi Ceci,
    I’m glad I’ve been of some help to you. My pleasure being your moderator. I loved your presentation and I’d love to read more about how you use e-portfolios at your school. Maybe you can share with us here some examples of the activities students do there. Or more practical ideas on how you deal with it. How do you asses their work there? Do you write comments? What type of comments? I’m very curious and eager to learn from your experience.
    Kisses and hugs…

    • Hi Sabri!

      So we’re even – it was a great pleasure to both of us to work together during RSCON3 :-) As for sharing more examples and practical ideas of how I handle and use it with students, ever since the presentation I have decided to do just that. I plan on writing posts sharing some examples and explaining how I do it. it’ll be interesting to receive feedback from teachers who use them in other settings and places, as well as learning how they have changed, adapted them to their own realities.
      Thanks dearest!

  6. Hey CC

    Like Ceri, I’m a big fan of the secret garden analogy. Merci 4 the mention. I’ve since watched my presentation and honestly, it went so much better than my inner dialogue ! It was fun to be able to pay more attention to what was going on in the chat box and follow the reactions.

    Guess where I’m headed now… off 2 see yours ! ;-) Cheiro, b

    • I have watched my own as well, and I can’t help it but notice what I could’ve done better and the funny faces I’m always doing :-P But I also loved being able to pay attention to the interactions and exchanges that went on in the chat box… So much I had missed!!!

      Let me know what you thought of my session :-) I still have to catch up on the watching… soon I hope!

      Cheiro, CC X

  7. […] Learning from Teaching & Sharing and the Secret Garden – What I got from #RSCON3 Last weekend I took part in the 3rd edition of the Reform Symposium Worldwide e-Conference. (you can learn more about it, watch the recordings from sessions and see archives from the past editions … Source: cecilialcoelho.wordpress.com […]

  8. Luiz Reikdal says:

    Dear Cecilia!
    I am very proud of such post! So deep and so poetic at the same time. Very remarkable comments and reflections. I was very happy to be part of this (#RSCON3) and how much I learned with/from my colleagues. I got so inspired that I wanted ALL the teachers in my school to attend it. They are starting to get curious and I am sure that little by little I’ll persuade them into learning and using some technology to apply in classes… LOL. You are totally right: this virtual path changes everything: your teaching, way of thinking, planning and organizing classes… it even changes the way we think English! Thanks a lot for your wonderful text. Hoping to meet you in person as soon as possible!
    Luiz Reikdal (@ELTtech) from Curitiba, Brazil ;)

  9. […] Learning from Teaching & Sharing and the Secret Garden – What I got from #RSCON3 […]

  10. […] and somewhere along the way you get A LOT.  Ceci has used a beautiful metaphor in her most recent post “the secret […]

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