Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Choosing: First Come First Served and other models

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I hate vetting. I hate being responsible for a scarce resource and choosing who is allowed in or out.

Last week I realized I am responsible for a few of those things, Virtually Connecting being the one I will discuss here.

When we first started with #et4buddy it was no big deal who joined. It was mainly something Rebecca and I were doing together and we put out open invitations on the #et4online hashtag and let virtual participants know via email and on Canvas. Occasionally someone asked to join whom we didn’t know. I tried to reach out to ppl who retweeted or showed interest and future interations we usually had about one person we don’t know at all or who isn’t well known to both of us. Sometimes we invited people intentionally. Especially in #digped there was one hangout to talk ABOUT virtually connecting in Bonnie Stewart’s Network track and for that one obviously we wanted to include people who had participated in vconnecting sessions whether onsite or virtually so they could share their experience (we also had someone totally new to us for that one actually). Yesterday for the meeting with Amy Collier when one virtual person dropped out, I suggested to the co-hosts (Autumm and AK) that I invite Jen Ross (who works closely with Amy and was mentioned in the keynote yday) last minute and she agreed! It made a difference in the hangout, I think. We didn’t have a “waiting list” for this one, so it was easy to do that.

So you can glean that our random way of getting people into a 10-person hangout (which already has at least 2 places already booked for onsite and virtual buddy and sometimes a 3rd flexible space for a backup buddy) is to put out calls and accept people first come first served.

That’s not fair of course because some people see it later than others, some miss it completely, some follow some of us but not others so it depends who tweeted, who retweeted, what time, which hashtags we used, etc. Also depends whom we notice retweeting and if we know they are f2f or virtual so we can invite and of course some ppl are just shy or take time to sort their schedule out or figure out timezones.

For Wednesday’s session we had a 4 person waiting list and actually 3 of them ended up joining so i am glad i kept the waiting list coz last minute cancelations happen whether ppl intend it or not.

I think it’s sometimes good to invite a virtual person who is slightly famous or well connected or friends with onsite people. I think it helps promote the vconnecting idea (as famous ppl retweet announcements and recordings and maybe even blog about it) and also enriches the conversation for everyone.

Should we be making intentional choices to ensure diversity of participants? Some (many) sessions end up female dominated but recently not as much. Should we be focusing on including people who are women, grad students, adjuncts, who can’t come. But i think we inadvertently end up reproducing a different kind of privilege related to online social capital. For example of all my f2f colleagues the only one who ever joined (last week) was the one who tried cMOOCs and interaction with strangers on Twitter (also youngest one of us and who reports to me). Not that vconnecting is for everyone. Nor is Twitter or cMOOCs or any of the things we do. I am just reflecting on people who might want to join but don’t get the info on time or are too shy to ask or whatever.

I do think expanding our pool of buddies as we did last week helps us create more opportunities and hopefully more events but also broaden the network of people we can reach and include. I hope.

Onsite and virtual people alike are volunteering to buddy in future and that’s awesome. The more the merrier 🙂

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