(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me

Writing ourselves into history; righting history (inspired by @Mark_Mcguire & #write4pro)

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I started my day by this incredible tweet by my twitter-buddy Mark McGuire. I loved it so much I kept going back to it several times during the day just to get inspired again:

I could say so much about this, but the tweet itself says so much on its own.

The morning at work was a blur, just lots of meetings, nothing particularly significant. But the end of my day was a wonderful experiment #write4pro led by my other good online buddy Shyam Sharma – it started with him inviting me to Skype with his students, but as everyone knows, synchronous does not work well for me – so I suggested we have a twitter chat instead*. He agreed. The idea grew from just having me as a guest speaker, to inviting a bunch of others to the discussion – including several of our good twitter buddies and online friends interested in education. I also invited my students and a new f2f contact who is interested in open access issues as well. It was great having this discussion during Open Education week (#nwoer) as well.

Interestingly, there were a few questions students asked during the twitter chat about whether social media skills were helpful or important in our profession, and when several of us talked about networking, students wanted to know more.

This twitter chat was a perfect example of networking across the globe: Shyam (Nepalese in NY) and I (Egyptian in Egypt) developing the idea; his undergrad students in NY, my diploma students in Egypt, and other professionals from Guyana, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal – almost spanning every time zone inhabited by man/woman :o)

End result: wonderful, chaotic twitter chat that hopefully benefited the students on both sides and anyone else participating. Lots of quotable stuff in this twitter chat (I’ll post the storify when Shyam does it – here it is, and a more comprehensive one by Mark), but here are some of the gems for me (couldn’t get them all, but searching for them to include them helped me follow more of the chat that I had been missing!):

Someone asked if there was such a thing as overdoing social media… to which I replied:

So many other good things to say but I’m too exhausted right now to make the search. Will be posting the storify when it’s up (it’s up – here it is! fast work Shyam). So many people commented on how useful the chat was, how diverse it was, and some even talked about it as if it was an ongoing thing we could do again :o)) That was just so cool!

But meanwhile: Twitter chats are not for everyone, though. Obviously, there is the language barrier. The technical barrier – some ppl were tweeting for the FIRST time – not necessarily the mildest introduction to twitter. There must also be some cognitive exhaustion threshold after which people would go crazy!!! (come to think of it, very rhizomatic – how come we never had twitter chats in rhizo14?) Some people I am sure could not follow the conversation. In fact, even someone I consider a big tweeter like Mark (quoted earlier) often admits to struggling to keep up with twitter chats. I personally always have personal issues distracting me from twitter chats*. And of course – whether the topic being discussed can really have global significance? For academics, often there are common threads across the globe worth discussing and taking forward. This chat was completely diverse (undergrads, teachers, academics) but still managed to make some sense… somehow.

I have seen twitter chats with people more experienced who did useful things like retweet questions, retweet good stuff, etc., but this was a really really good chat for a group of people who mostly were not veteran tweeters or at least not veteran twitter chatters (neither Shyam nor I had ever “led” one before, though we had participated – and Shyam did a great job of letting his students lead it which I thought went really really well).

OK – not the most reflective post but just wanted to get some of these ideas down ;o) More later

*I am so glad we did it this way because I would have been a horrible guest speaker (electricity cut 10 mins into chat, so had to switch to a 3G device; family needed attention several times and I ended up tweeting with my child on my lap).

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Author: Maha Bali

Associate professor of practice, American University in Cairo

3 thoughts on “Writing ourselves into history; righting history (inspired by @Mark_Mcguire & #write4pro)

  1. oooh — just reading the post, so regret missing this, not even having caught a whiff of it. I’m spending too much time — work time and worry time — in places I don’t want to stay so long. I hope there will be another. 

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