I started to write this post while I was attending ISTE 10, but wanted a little more time to think and reflect before finishing the final draft.
In several sessions, both formal and informal, there was discussion about how to participate in discussions at ISTE. Some people felt compelled to join the discussion instantly. Others hung back and listened. While some stated they were too new to the conference to contribute to a discussion, others noted that they learn a lot by simply listening. I’m not a shy person, and I always have something to say… so I tend to encourage people to speak up, whether they’re newbies or not.
I have to admit though, that there is definite value in lurking and listening… whether it’s a face-to-face discussion group or an online conversation or chat. Isn’t that something I address often in my classroom? We have two ears and one mouth. Shouldn’t we listen twice as much as we talk?
My new friend, Nicholas Provenzano, aka @thenerdyteacher, brought up this point while we were sitting in the Bloggers’ Cafe at ISTE. He said something about how valuable it would be to become a fly on the wall at every part of the conference. That one reference set off a spark in my brain. For a person who has an opinion about everything, I can safely say it’s difficult for me to listen more than I speak. However, I’ve been trying to lurk more lately. It’s nice to try something different, and I’m definitely learning in a different way.
One thing I tried this year at ISTE that was different than past conferences was to participate in the backchannel in two sessions as an informal moderator. In addition to listening to the presenters, it was also an amazing experience to “listen” to the people in the backchannel. I thought I would be more distracted by others, but I found that I was actually more involved in the sessions.
Wow. This listening thing might become a habit for me.