The First Annual Lee Baber Jamboree – Win a community.

It’s been months and months now since the incredibly fast and shocking death of our friend Lee Baber. Many of us in the Edtechtalk community can still be heard saying “wow, Lee would have loved that” or “man… she would so know how to do that”. For those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to have the pleasure (and very occasional frustration LOL) of knowing Lee Baber she was one of the foundational members of the edtechtalk community. An educator from Virginia, passionate about her students, her music, her community… everything that I’ve ever known her to come into contact with she was ‘all in’. Never was there a plan, however off-the-wall where Lee couldn’t be heard to say ‘I’m in’. And the great thing about Lee is that she was. Always. She’d be there, cheery and resolute. With a hand or just a virtual smile. She’s dearly missed.

My pitch for the First Annual Lee Baber Jamboree
Over the last six months of so, word has been circling in ETT backchannels that we should do something to commemorate one of the best educators to ever grace our digital space. We mulled it over and came up with a plan that, I think, best suits the memory of our friend. This summer we’re going to hold a Jamboree of teaching projects, we’ll send out word wherever we can for people to put together projects that they’d like to do and then have a weekend where we present them, go over them and offer advice on how to carry them out. There are alot of us, in this edtechtalk community and beyond, alot of experience, a bunch of hard knocks and enough connections and know-how to help any number of teachers take their first steps towards doing any number of cool projects. I’m going to ask for as many volunteers as I can find, we’ll call in a few favours, and we’ll see what we can do for as many people as need helping (and we can help)

Win a community
postnote: it was obvious to me right after i wrote this that ‘ONE’ winner doesn’t make sense. I’m thinking it will have to be more. Need more thinking on this.
One teacher, however… the one voted ‘most deserving’, for the Lee-est project, will win the Lee-est of awards. We’ll add them to a special backchannel and give them access to as many of the ETT community as we can find. Year long access. A full school year of access to maybe 20 (haven’t convinced everyone yet, who knows, might be 50) Ed Tech professionals for them to call upon at any time of day… the idea being that one of us will be there at any given time to help them through their project. We’re an entirely free community (as in speech and beer) we pay for our server space with money that we cobble together through various little projects we do for people… so we don’t have any to give away. What we do have, however, is a rhizomatic knowledge base. We have, between the bunch of us, tried an awful lot of what’s out there… and are hoping to give that to one deserving person.

How can you help?
Well… you can make this idea better for one. I’m mulling over the idea of trying to convince a foundation to join together with us and help fund some of these projects… I don’t think it’s ‘necessary’ but it’d be awfully cool. You can make the existing idea better… I’m sure it can be better. Most importantly, you can join the team. Just add a comment to this post and offer your help for the project. I’m hoping it can be a showcase for the power of communities to go out and help teachers outside of the regular ‘funding and adminstrative’ models. Not that those are bad, but i think that communities… knowledge communities have a place in this too. Volunteer to come out and lend a hand with the teachers who (we hope) will send in their projects and questions. Offer to join the ‘winner’s community’. Or… just tell us what you think.

So far who are we?
Well… we’ve got some folks from Edtechtalk… Jose Rodriguez, Sharon Peters and I are the current ‘organizing cheering squad’ but we’d like everyone we know and don’t know to jump on board. Communities have power… it’s just a bit subtle sometimes.


somehow i feel like i need banjo music to finish off this post 😛

Edtechtalk – ‘Managing’ a Community of Practice

Some initial comments…

Kind of a funny thing to say isn’t it? Managing a community of practice… but that is exactly what I’m going to be doing over the next 14 months. Edtechtalk is an organic community that has grown from a single, live, interactive webcast in June 2005 to 12 mostly-weekly shows with bunches of listeners and, most importantly, each with their own small dedicated community. Those shows are one of the central parts of my learning as an educator, as a social community worker and as a tech dude.

We currently support a dedicated server, mostly paid for by a couple of members of the organization and has been, over our existence, mostly been paid for under the fine auspices of worldbridges. There have been several-several different attempts at finding a management system to help us decide things like community policies, new ideas going forward, the acceptance of new shows to the community, web design (omg); a bunch of things. In lieu of a better plan, I have been appointed (partially by me) to be the manager from now ’till the end of 2009. A movement by the managing committee could no doubt cut that short but, as I was ‘chosen’ because I’m one of the only people with that special combination of knowing everyone, knowing where we’ve been, knowing the server side and… uh… being willing to do the job… I don’t see a coup in the cards anytime soon 🙂

Base Premises

  1. I don’t have alot of time. No one else in the community is particularly brimming over with time either, whatever management model we have must take that into account.
  2. People should be able to opt in/opt out freely… even on a week by week basis. (therefore the system for this should not generally involve manual controls
  3. Simple sooner is better than perfect later. We need to get accustomed to making decisions in a simple way now and work out the details of structure as we go along.
  4. The community needs a voice, but that need not slow it down. As we are a community of ‘mostly’ like minded folks. 9 times out of 10 the people available in the governance blob are going to make a good decision… some planning must be made for that 1/10.

Initial Decision Making – The Blob
The edtechtalk blob is a group skype chat that ‘anyone’ would be allowed to join. By this, I mean anyone who has an interest in edtechtalk… or communities generally. Decisions that need to be made by the community would be posted in the community chat with answers to the commuinty decision gathered by a management committee rep… majority rules. As manager, and this being kind of a non-normal way of doing things, I reserve the right to take a blob decision and put it to the edtechtalk management team.

Edtechtalk Management Team – The Backup Team
I’m going to pick the interim management team. They are going to be made up of a combination of the people who have, over the past three years, consistently expressed an interest in being part of the management of the community, and those people who are now doing a bunch of work for the community. I expect that this body will be largely honorary, and are mostly intended as a backup in case my blob plan gets out of control. I worry about this, because I don’t want people to feel left out for not being picked… there is bound to be one perfect member of the community out there that I’m just going to forget about… sorry about that person who knows who you are.


  1. We need to get edtechtalk to being revenue neutral. There have been various excellent plans bandied about in the last couple of weeks regarding this, and we’ll need to pick one and get there soon.
  2. Give those people who are interested in helping out the community some direction so that they can work towards a stronger community
  3. Decide about whether we want to make direct effort towards being an information repository. There is a bunch of information on our website, not terribly well organized. Should we be working on that?
  4. Whither drupal. design? layout? functionality?
  5. Whither webcasting. Getting rid of the shoutcast and moving to a less labour intensive devise might make sense. Is edtechtalk somehow connected to the idea of shoutcasting?
  6. Is edtechtalk only that drupal? Should we be supporting other things?
  7. Does the blob get involved with the shows? Should we ‘talk to people’ if things are becoming ‘un-edtechtalky’?

Still here?
If you are, and you want to see what’s going on, you can email manager {At] edtechtalk and ask to join the governance and management team… or you can just ask a question.

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