To close this week of reflection of the #SAtechMI Unconference, there won't be any funny picture, just a story.
While there were great sessions and conversations about a wide variety of topics, we were to focus on this much larger question:
How can we use technology to build community?
At the very core of this question, you would immediately think social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr, and so many more have taken our ability to communicate and learn from each other to a new level. At this unconference, I was able to meet people I have been connected to on Twitter for some time.
Even features of some of the sites scream "community." Twitter users use the hashtag to communicate with those who share similar interests. Sure some may be a television show or sporting event, but there are also those in industries that are literally chatting using the hashtag. In student affairs, there is the large community using #SAchat, but even more specifically, there are those interested in technology (#SAtech), those in Enrollment Management (#EMchat), Academic Advising (#acadv), and so many more. We are using technology to build community.
But it extends past social media. Our presentations and workshops can build community. Having the ability to effectively build slide decks and prezis enhances what you are sharing with the group. The keynote for this unconference was Chas Grundy from Notre Dame and spoke about the power of story telling. There were two key points that I took away from his keynote.
In order to change behavior you need to change minds. In order to change minds, you need to change hearts. Stories change hearts #SAtechMI
Now, we can talk all day about the power of technology, and not a single person could care. However, if you are able to connect and make it personal for the person you are speaking with, change, and more importantly, action come into place. The other huge take a away is that his keynote didn't have any technology (outside of his microphone). There wasn't a presentation, no videos, nothing. It was a great way to end our day because my answer to the big question is:
Not only can we use technology to build community, but technology can be the reason for community.
We came together that day and spoke of many things. Of twitter and metrics, of blogging and digital literacy. We came together that day to talk about technology and many of us shared stories of how we are currently using technology. We also figured out many ways to keep improving our use of technology. Technology was the reason, not necessarily the solution, the community was formed.
As I mentioned in my first post, this experience was amazing. I encourage anyone that has the opportunity to attend an "unconference" to do so. Even further, if you are planning a conference or meeting of any kind, include some opportunity to be "unconference" like. You will be amazed (and slightly mentally drained) at the end from all of the interaction, problem solving, and story telling that take place.