The Shanghai k12 LAN Party kicked off today with a group of 12+ educators who met at my house this evening for the first of a four part series centered around the free k12 Online Conference.  This is the third year that we’re hosting this professional development event and I am still inspired by the mere fact that it’s even happening at all in Shanghai.  There are many reasons to avoid participating in this event:

  • The main conference site is blocked in China most of the time.
  • The internet in China can be unreliable and slow.
  • One of the founding organizers, Jeff Utecht is no longer working in Shanghai.
  • Teachers could be giving up to nearly 12 hours of their personal time on evenings and weekends to attend the four sessions of our LAN party

We’re pushing past all of the obstacles – they mean nothing to us!

With the help of my colleagues Jonathan Chambers and Simon May, we have or are in the process of downloading all sessions before we meet as a group.  Tonight, when the teachers walked in the door we handed them a USB that had Stephen Heppell’s Preconference Keynote on it as well as several of the first sessions posted early last week.  We took the internet out of the equations, giving alternate access to the presentations.

Through Skype, we brought Jeff into our conversation live from Bangkok.  Jeff then streamed our conversation live on his UStream channel U Tech TV.  At one point we had 25 educators from around the world, listening in on our conversation and chatting questions and replies to our real-time conversation.  Brian Lockwood from Japan… Allanah from New Zealand – we were having a global conversation around learning.  Jeff was and will continue to be part of our conversation.

The remaining obstacle is the amount of time educators are giving out of their personal time.  It’s our belief, the k12 Online Conference is a dynamic teaching and learning event complete with engaging presentations that draw life-long learning in for collaborative conversations. Andy Torris recently wrote about this his a recent post:

If you ask me, it is at least 50% the responsibility of the “leader” to have the “follower” want to be engaged.

All of the teachers part of our conversation this evening were engaged because we were all the leaders and we were all the followers – that’s 100% of the responsibility in Andy’s view.  Through building these types of Learning Communities, teachers become even more empowered to increase student learning.

Our next Shanghai K12 Online get-together will be this weekend.  If you just happen to be in Shanghai 😉 please visit our Shanghai K12 Online wiki and sign-up to join the continued conversation.  Thanks to Jonathan Chambers and David Gran for our logos over the years.  We’re making quite a collection!

If you are not in Shanghai, it’s not too late to organize your own K12 LAN Party.  One of the greatest attributes of this conference is the fact that you can organize your mini-conference around your schedule.  The presentations are online for anytime-anywhere access.  Keep the conversation going – download a flyer today!

Jeff joins our conversation from Bangkok

Pictures from the Evening

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