Bryan Alexander at the 2009 Baylor Educational Technology Showcase

Bryan Alexander at Baylor Educational Technology Showcase 2009

Web 2.0. Social Networking. Gaming. Mobile Computing. Above all: teaching and learning.

Last month Baylor welcomed the redoubtable CogDog himself, Alan Levine, in a celebration of Baylor’s new membership in the New Media Consortium. This month Bryan Alexander came to town as keynote speaker and workshop leader at the third annual Educational Technology Showcase, sponsored by the Baylor Electronic Library in cooperation with the Academy for Teaching and Learning. Special thanks to Dr. Sandy Bennett for generously inviting us new kids at the ATL to join in the festivities.

Wednesday’s schedule was festive indeed, with a great location (the Albritton Foyer at Moody Memorial Library), refreshments, and a series of door prizes. Wireless connectivity was intermittent, which caused more than a little frustration at times, but spirits stayed high in the conversational flow of sharing and demonstration. Posters included innovative work by faculty and staff from across the University. I was especially pleased to see faculty from the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, who had driven all the way down from Dallas to take part in the event and share their work with their University colleagues at the Waco campus.

Then came by Bryan’s keynote, a great torrent of energy, ideas, information, and carnival-barker audience-work. A Twitter backchannel immediately adopted e-learning librarian Ellen Hampton’s #ets2009 hashtag and kept up a lively conversation of responses, note-taking, questions, and resource-gathering during Bryan’s talk. Bryan directed us to many treasure troves, not least among them the indispensable “Liberal Education Today” blog at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, where Bryan serves as Director of Research.

No rest for the weary: immediately following the keynote, Bryan attended a meeting of Baylor’s Teaching, Learning, and Technology Committee, and sparked yet another wide-ranging and imaginative exploration of emerging technologies in teaching and learning. A quick breather, then off to dinner at Ninfa’s Cafe with Electronic Library staff, TLTC members, and the Academy for Teaching and Learning’s Graduate Fellow Hillary Blakeley and ATL Library Liaison Eileen Bentsen.

Blissed out on Flan 

Here Bryan tries to calm himself after his first taste of Ninfa’s flan. 

Thursday morning Bryan led a workshop on digital storytelling. The seminar room was filled with faculty and staff from across the University, including the director of Baylor’s wonderful Institute for Oral History.  The wireless connections held up (huzzah), the laptops booted, and the participants got to try their hands at several Web 2-based digital storytelling tools. Energy was high. One example from the Twitterstream: “my mind is buzzing with ideas for projects after the digital storytelling workshop with Bryan Alexander.” I’m thinking there are some exciting conversations, partnerships, and projects on the way. 

In a continuing quest to introduce Bryan to Waco’s characterful cuisine, I took him to Health Camp for lunch. There we debriefed on the EdTech Showcase, talked narrative and narratology (Bryan and I are both non-recovering English profs from way back), wrestled with the question of how RSS might go mainstream (and why it hasn’t so far), and generally talked shop-and-life over a fine burger-and-fry repast. It was a five-years-on encore of the first meal I shared with Bryan at the In-N-Out in San Diego during the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative annual meeting (blogged shortly afterwards by our much-missed burger companion Brian Lamb). Can it have been that long ago? 

Now Bryan, like Alan, has joined Baylor University on its journey, joined the community, joined this part of the grand caravan. And Baylor has joined with them as well. Our futures are intertwined. 

If you ask me, that’s just as it should be.

Caravanistas unite! Who’s next?

Bryan at Health Camp