Sunday, May 29, 2016

TeachMeet - What's in a name?

Ewan recently marked the tenth birthday of TeachMeet (Ten years on from the very first unconference for educators: TeachMeet is 10) where he shared his memories of that first meeting in the Jolly Judge. Unfortunately, I was unable to join the birthday party... but it did start me thinking about my own memories (some of which I shared on his facebook post). It also started me thinking about the name "TeachMeet", how we came to choose it and the bullet (or bullets) we dodged not choosing a different name. I have not used this blog much in recent years abut it seemed right to post about naming TeachMeet in this blog since this is where it all started for me.

Going to the pub with Will Richardson
Ewan has described the proto-TeachMeet in the Jolly Judge. He  claims he always had a "stick it to the man" agenda. That may be true for him. Me? I just thought it would be fun to go to the pub with Will Richardson. Ewan also explains that this meeting was called the "ScotEduBlogger Meetup" and states (as if it was obvious) that this name was limiting and that "TeachMeet was born..." (as if it was a painless birth). I remember the choice of the name emerging more slowly, I remember online and offline discussion, and I remember choosing just in time to get the word out for SETT (as SLF was then called).

The discussion about "What to call this thing" mostly took place on the Scotsedublog wiki. On 8 June 2006, Ewan created a page titled newtechmeet and posed the question:
We need a name. Not something too bloggy, not too techy. Suggestions?
 Later that same day, John Johnston added this as the first suggestion:
How to stop worrying and love the blog.
On 10 June 2006, I responded with the following list:
Read/Write Roundtable
Read/Write Roundup
Read/Write Rammy
Classroom 2.0
SETT 2.0
ScotEduBlog Bash
ScotEduBlog Mashup
...I made more suggestions that day (not all of them serious) and eventually posted TeachMeet as a possible name.​ Credit where credit's due. I explain on the wiki discussion page that I came up with the name after toying with variations on the newtechmeet page name. I commented, ' a wise man once said, "It's not the tech, it's the teach."' For the record, the "wise man" was Ewan McIntosh. It is something he said while at Jordanhill. I ripped it off and have been using it without accreditation ever since!

TeachMeet at SETT, 2006
Almost immediately after posting the TeachMeet suggestion, I edited it to turn it into "ScotEduBlog TeachMeet". I thought any meetup would be all about blogging. And in my defence, I wasn't the only one thinking this way. For example, on a number of occasions, John Johnston defended the inclusion of "blog" or "blogging" in the title. In retrospect, it was much better to lose the "blog" since it has allowed TeachMeet to grow and expand beyond its blogging origins.

The other mistake I made was to limit it to Scotland. I thought this was something for Scottish educators, hence my addition of the "ScotEdu" bit. I thought it was for my chums and friends of my chums. I was even more wrong about that! Thankfully, smarter people than me were in charge of picking the name!

I did have some vision though. I suggested: "What ever we call it, if we think it might become a regular event, we should stick a "2006" at the end." I thought this was something that had legs and that it would be repeated. OK, I thought it would be annual event, but nobody is perfect.

By the end of June, we had the following list of possible names and had started to vote for our favourites:
Read/Write Roundtable
Collaborative Communication Colloquium
Classroom 2.0
SETT 2.0
ScotEduBlog Bash
ScotEduBlog Mashup
ScotEduBlog TeachMeet
Bloggers Anon... and on and on
Blog on
How to stop worrying and love the blog
Mashup Impossible
You've Got eLearning
Lord of the Webrings
Hello Mr Chips/Mrs Chips
Ewan called us to order, drafted four possible logos based on the two most popular choices. (Both Ewan and I liked "EduSlam", but clearly we were outvoted!) It was down to "TeachMeet 06" and "ScotEduBlog 06". We then voted again to choose our favourite logo. On 29 June, the decision was made and this logo was added to the wikipage.

Clearly, the right name was chosen. We ended up with a name that didn't limit us to our Scottish roots. A name that allowed us to talk about more than blogging. A clear example of the wisdom of crowds! (And, it has to be said, the wisdom of Ewan, whose gentle prompting pushed us in the right direction.)

We had a name, we had a venue, all that was needed was to organise and deliver the event. As we made our plans on the wiki, I don't think any of us knew just how successful TeachMeet 06 was going to be. But that is a whole other story...


Christine McIntosh said...

And there I am with my pearls on ...

David said...

Hello Christine... Or Mrs Blethers as I knew you then. :-)

Your presentation at TeachMeet 06 was one of the highlights for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
Nice to see you pop up in my Feed Reader:-)

Nice to remember all the fun we had back in the day. I regularly use this an an example of how wrong I can be.

Christine McIntosh said...

David, I had so much fun that evening! Feel I've been out of things for a long time now ... but still get worked up about educational stuff.

David said...

Hello John

You and me both!

Hello Christine

TeachMeet 06 was "fun" and terrifying in roughly equal measure.

Christine McIntosh said...

Ah, but I had no responsibilities for the event itself ... :)

Graham Wegner said...

Hi David, it is great to see a post from you pop up in my Feedly. Your blog is one from my early dabblings in blogging so it is no surprise to see that you were integral in the birth of the TeachMeet concept. It is interesting that here in Australian we currently have a group of educators (all of have on Twitter for less than 5 years) who are championing the #TeachMeet concept like they invented it. I hope that they see your and Ewan's posts and realise that all great concepts like the TeachMeet idea, can't be co-opted for personal glory and are bigger than any one participant or organiser. It bothers me a bit that there is a trend towards rules like 7 minute or 2 minute presentations - and less of the open ended discussion that seemed to characterise the earlier incarnations.

David said...

Hello Graham

I think the seven minute/two minute thing is an attempt to limit people precisely to leave room for discussion. The key thing for me though is the informal nature and the ground up organisation. If the participants want todo it differently, go for it!

It might be fun to have a Britain's Got Talent buzzer system: three I'm bored buzzers from the audience and you are off whether you're finished or not. :-)

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