Teachmeet is changing. Developing. Moving Forward. Evolving.

Now, for those of you reading this in Hampshire, it may surprise you, but there are feelings that TeachMeet has reached saturation point in the UK and that it isn’t working in some cases. A selection of people have blogged about it here: http://linkbun.ch/z9i7. They have the same blog, but hope to have differing opinions as people comment.As you know, Hampshire has only just had its first ever TeachMeet. This was a stand-alone event rather than as part of a conference and it went pretty well. I know now all TMs will be as popular, but hopefully with a bit of support, they can be even better.

One criticism of Teachmeets is the role that sponsors play. At tmhants, the majority of sponsors didn’t say a word to the audience and only one presented and this wasn’t about her product at all, but about greenscreening. We needed sponsorship as we wanted to launch TM in Hampshire with a bang, and we certainly achieved that. Next time, we’d like to host smaller events and host them in schools and maybe a large event as part of our annual conference (as venue is already sorted).   When I get back in to class in September, I’ll be introducing TM into my staffroom and my cluster meetings.

Some of the suggestions for improving TM were already evident from tmhants, which makes me feel better!

Get more newbies/less ‘twitterati’  – check. We had a handful that had attended a TM before and the majority of the room were not on Twitter. I’d say half of the room were there because I nagged them while training them for our VLE and bribed them with freebies. The feedback surveys show that primary people came because of free stuff. For that, we needed sponsorship. Surveys from people attending tmhants have reported that next time, they won’t need goody bags as bribery, they would come because they enjoyed it so much. (Edit – By ‘twitterati’ I mean less TM veterans. These people are already won over by the power of Teachmeet.)

Get more teachers involved and less consultanty types – Check. One criticism of TMBett was that only 1/3 of the room were teachers. Now this is possibly because it’s easier for consultants to manage a couple of days at BETT, I know when I was in the class I’d never have been able to stay over without paying for it myself. At TMhants, there were I think only 7 consultants. Add a couple of techs and others and 85% of the room were practising teachers.

I do think that organising a TeachMeet should be easier. The hard parts were things like knowing which streaming service to use. I tested 4 or 5 different online streaming sites. Surely someone had done this before? I created a flyer to go into schools and to be emailed, again, couldn’t I have used someone else’s? We need to pool these resources together to help people, to encourage new organisers.

So what needs changing/improving? In my opinion, I think that there should be:

  • A how-to guide. Maybe containing video clips of previous Teachmeets, but definitely covering the little details e.g. where do you get the random name generator from? Which streaming services are there? Which webcam does a good job? How do you set up a bank account? @tomhenzley says HSBC was the best/easiest. If you missed his tweet/blog about this, how would you find out?
  • A list of previous organisers – I had attended 1 TM before, so all knowledge was coming from that and stuff we made up. Why not have a group of people I could talk to for help? And maybe…
  • A TM Mentor. I would like to think I am helping in this role for tmeast. @tomhenzley and I had a phone call to discuss things I’d learnt through running tmhants that he could take on and improve for tmeast. This would have been useful to me. Not regulating, not monitoring, just there to support. I’m far from an expert, but I’ve been there and done it and I hope Tom found this valuable.
  • Somewhere to store videos of presentations/photos. Not the best presentations, but all presentations. Carefully tagged and searchable. Yes there will be lots of people discussing similar topics e.g. voicethread, but why not? This would be fine in my opinion (obviously this only works if someone records it…which some idiot forgot to do for tmhants)

My previous experience of a TM was one in person at BETT and one I’d seen via flash meeting. So I only had that to go on and attempt to copy and improve.

I am all for seeing something be improved and developed, but there are many things that can be made better without needing a wholesale change. Small tweaks, small areas of support and we can have more and more teachmeets run by a variety of people.

I look forward to seeing how the #tmfuture discussion develops. I can see there being disagreements, but hopefully it will become a tighter machine, making it easier for anyone and everyone to host and attend a TeachMeet.

Why not follow the discussion with TwapperKeeper: http://www.twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/tmfuture

Or look at other #tmfuture posts here: http://misterjim.edublogs.org/2010/06/01/tmevolution/ or here: http://classroomtales.com/2010/05/30/tmfuture-where-next-for-teachmeet/