First, a glance back. The Forum launched on February 11th, 2016, almost one year ago, with Audrey Watters as our first guest. We started from scratch, without any name recognition, media partners, or institutional connections. From that initial point, we went on to conduct forty-three (43) Forum sessions through 2016. 52 guests have appeared. For the audience, more than 1,320 people have participated. There are now forty-seven (47) recordings on YouTube.
Plenty of developments and experiments have emerged over the past 11 months. We’ve piloted live sessions, for example, held at important conferences, where Christopher Downs has done terrific production work making everything work. I’ve tried having myself as sole host-guest for several Fora, connecting the Forum to the FTTE report. We’ve had in-person meetups and meals. We’ve experimented with breaks and multi-day events. Twitter has become a serious venue for live and asynchronous discussion (hashtag #FTTE). Reporters have covered Forum sessions, and I’ve published articles based on themes that surfaces over the year. We had a fun online party at the year’s end.
When I write “we” please know that this is a communal effort. For one, the Shindig staff have been splendid in making this all work, from gently helping participants with technical issues to generously guiding me through multiple bandwidth challenges. For another – there is a Forum community! It didn’t exist in January 2016, and now is an energetic, kind, smart, challenging, and engaged group of wonderful folks. I’m honored to connect with them – you – all.
While the Forum’s center of gravity has been the United States, participation and scope have been international. From guests to topics to my locations to participants, we’re aimed at the world. Here’s a quick visualization:
All of this has been in the open. Every step of the way I’ve shared information about the Forum, from technological details to news about guests to emergent topics. Shindig staff recorded each session, and I’ve uploaded them to YouTube, bandwidth permitting. Anyone with a web browser and good enough internet connection has been able to participate, especially as we’ve plentifully announced each Forum event.
Now it’s 2017. What’s next? Plenty.
We have a grand slate of guests for January and February. Today professor Adrianna Kezar , creator of the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, will join us. On January 19th Malcolm Brown, the leader of EDUCAUSE ELI, will be our guest. On the 26th we meet Gary Rhoades, professor and director of the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education.
Then on January 31st we’ll be joined by Liz Evans, director of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning (LACOL). On February 9th Lee Rainie, leader of the very important Pew Research project’s internet, science, and technology wing, will be our guest. On the 16th we’ll hold a special Forum, our one year anniversary shindig; more details are on the way. Then the New Media Consortium‘s Samantha Becker will join us on February 26th to discuss the brand-new Horizon Report for higher education.
After that? A whole series of guests.
Meanwhile, we’ll shift technology to the new Shindig platform, a major build with some very handy features. That’s a major step for their team, and I’m looking forward to kicking the shiny new tires.
Other ideas in my fervid brain: I’d like to expand our global connections, with more guests and participants from beyond the US. I have a new sustainability strategy about to unfold (posts are coming). Media partnerships would make sense at this point. Maybe the Forum needs its own domain, and the YouTube recordings a channel beyond the current playlist.
What else should we be doing? Let us know. And onward with the Forum in 2017!
(thanks to Olivia Nguyen for making the map)