Wednesday, 16 June 2010
This is the last blog post for the EDEN 2010 Annual Conference and it is dedicated to all participants, bloggers, tweeters, organisers, all those who shared this experience live or online. Thank you for being there, sharing your thoughts, or just listening and absorbing the complex thoughts of your distinguished peers.
Innovators and followers: see you soon in Budapest at the next EDEN event.
To follow EDEN events, visit the European Distance and E-learning Network's website.
Last but not least, cheers to my fellow bloggers: Steve Ildiko and Gabor!
Sunday, 13 June 2010
I'm just back from the EDEN Conference, having spent just over 15 hours travelling, via 4 trains, a bus and a much delayed flight. The plane eventually arrived, but when we finally landed at London Gatwick, I had missed all of my connections, and I finally arrived home very late. Yet regardless of the travel difficulties, it will be the people I met that will reside in my memory the most.
I had a lot of fun at this year's EDEN Conference, and I would like to express my thanks to all those responsible for the organisation of the event. From the great idea of having the marquee outside the venue for lunch, drinks etc., to the inspired choice of the city of Valencia to hold the conference in, all ran smoothly and was enjoyed by all. Valencia is in some ways its own kind of Eden, with a city plan that is divided by a meandering city park that has replaced the course of an old river bed. You can walk for miles along this and simply take in the beautiful scenary, the jacaranda trees in full bloom, and the orange groves heavy with their sweet fruit. The stunning Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of the Arts and Sciences) provides a futuristic spectacle both day and night and is well worth an hour or two of wandering around, just to appreciate the sense of scale and space, as well as the fine attention to detail the complex affords.
At the conference, I loved 'Mr Bean' (as usual, Martin Bean, Vice Chancellor of the UK Open University, was a great keynote speaker and raised some key issues for us to think about at the outset of the event) and I loved hearing George Siemens for the first time. I managed to talk to both of them during the conference and I am impressed the depth of knowledge each has, and their keen ability to convey their ideas succinctly and accessibly. I also enjoyed my brief sparring match with George over the title of 'e-learning' and whether it was still a valid and relevant term to use to describe what we do most of our working days. Michael Moore who was sat next to me was expertly dragged into the debate by the ever urbane Alan Tait (pictured above), and the Twittersphere was also buzzing for a short while as many people not at the event also weighed in with their views. For me, the jury is still out on this issue, even though one of the final plenaries saw Jim Devine create something of a reworking of what the 'e' stands for in e-learning - echoing in many ways a keynote I gave several years ago at the University of Wales. I'm playing devil's advocate still - do we really need the 'e' in e-learning anymore, or does it still serve a purpose?
It was wonderful talking to so many smart people about their passion of advancing e-learning further. I had several prolonged discussions with new President of EDEN, Morten Flate Paulsen and other members of the executive committee, such as Denes Zarka and Ari-Matti Auvinen and touched base with other old friends including Nikitis Kastis, Montse Guittert, Albert Sangra, Thomas Fischer, Marci Powell, Niall Sclater, Thomas Kretchmer, Grainne Conole and Sally Reynolds. I also met several people face to face whom I had been linked previously online, including Alex Pickett, Deborah Allen, Sebastian Fiedler and Ricardo Torres Kompen. New friends were made, such as Peter Shea, Thomas Richter and Stephen Jenner, and many more whose names have slipped me, but will not doubt bump into again and have more interesting conversations with. Thank you all - you made my short stay in beautiful Valencia cerebral, enjoyable and memorable (Apologies if I have misspelt any of your names).
I can't wait for next year's EDEN conference in Dublin. I will for the first time be able to get a direct flight from my home town of Plymouth, and be there in just over an hour.
Friday, 11 June 2010
- are busy
- want access everywhere
- want choice
- want bites of learning, not the full packadge
- want engagement
- fast and practice oriented knowledge
- need challenge
- multitasking (hello homo interneticus!)
- blended environment
- TIVO: digital video recorder learning your viewing habits (shiver)
- want mentors
- want social community
- variable pricing (example of iTunes)
After this exciting experience for strategic planning from the other side of the Atlantic ocean, Ciaran Mc Cormack gave an insight into exciting primary and secondary school online multimedia projects showing real-life, already established hands-on examples. If you listened well, you may be in the position to scribble in your iPad a short note on who your students will be in 15 years!
Both presentations will be available later on the EDEN website.
Coffee break now.
Before Alan Tait the EDEN President was Ingeborg Bo, preceded by Erwin Wagner, who was the successor of Valerio Grementieri. Before him, Tamás Lajos had his term, and the first President of EDEN was Erling Ljosa, another Norwegian significant figure in the field. How many is that, Steve?
Thursday, 10 June 2010
I know Morten has some great ideas about how to advance the cause of EDEN, because I have been listening to some of them during this week in Valencia. He has already asked me my views on how we can improve communications across the network of more than 1200 members. He will be exploring how the NAP members site for example, can be improved and extended. There will no doubt be some time and energy invested into how social web tools can be used to transform EDEN's presence and raise its profile. Alan Tait did a great job as the 99th President (Look, stop this now - Ed) and we are all grateful to him for steering us this far. Now Morten has taken over, I am sure the momentum will continue, and I hope to be a part of his outrider cavalcade - I have the shades, the ear piece and the dark suit already prepared. (Right, that's it! He's not the President of the United States, Steve, so stop this now, or I'm telling your Mum - Ed)
But I will say this - the shared blog at this year's conference is working very well - the only thing we need now is MORE BLOGGERS! Come on you lot - where are you all? I'm sure you have something to say after day 1 of a great event. Let's have your comments posted on this blog - your images, videos, sound bites and podcasts, your social tags, your conference badges, your left over biscuits, paella (... steady on - you've gone a bit too far - Ed). ...
I just want to get some of you bloggers to contribute something you want to share ... I'm looking forward to reading it...
Currently happening in Session "A Web 2.0 Community for Higher Education Professionals: From Participation to Recognition" in Room C: experiencing a hands-on approach for a virtual peer review approach and tools with already rated. A methodology developed in the HEXTLEARN project. And this is how it looks like:
Preparatory stage – gathering background information about the institution, and its current and future planned use of ICT for learning. An important part of this stage is the ‘Positioning Questionnaire’, as well as relevant documents that will help us build a picture of what is your University’s approach to the use of ICT for learning.
Virtual peer review – virtual (via web tools) collaborative dialogue between the HEXTLEARN peer reviewers and representatives of your University. It provides an opportunity for the reviewers to gather more information, through phone Skype or email interviews and virtual observation, and for both reviewers and ‘host institution’ to explore key issues relevant to e-learning strategies.
Analysis and Reporting stage – on the basis of the data gathered from the preceding stages, this final part of the Review process will focus on the production of recommendations arrived at through collaborative reflection between the HEXTLEARN team and the hosting institution.
Anyone can join the seminar at www.hextlearn.eu.
This morning two great keynotes from Martin Bean (see my previous post) and his 'new Canadian best mate' George Siemens, set the scene for another memorable event. George in particular made some bold statements about the nature of courses and their failure to tap into the current needs of students who reside firmly in the world of digital media. It's not about knowledge acquisition he said, it's about making connections, and many traditional courses don't provide this opportunity. At the end of the plenasy, we had all been well and truly Siemenized.
My own session was shared with Claudio Del Rio, Thomas Richter (Stepping in for Ulf-Daniel Ehlers) and Gila Kurtz and was held in the main conference hall. We were very fortunate to have about 120 delegates listening to us, and there was quite a lively discussion after each paper presentation. I spoke on using blogs and wikis in a variety of combinations to promote a range of reflective and collaborative learning opportunities, and using 'blikis' to encourage deeper negotiation of meaning among peers. Others related their own research tales, ranging from great success to abject failure. It was, I think, a very honest and open session.
More later from the conference when I get some time.
29 degree and the sun is shining: The weather in Valencia is great! Around 400 delegates from all over the world (14% from outside Europe) are meeting under these "holiday-conditions" to discuss in the next days where education is heading to.
One big topic seems to be Open Educational Resources (OER). The Open University UK has sent a big delegation to Valencia, from keynote speakers like Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor to session chairs. This morning, I have been in a workshop about Open Educational Practices and the room was crowded of people (around 30). Even, the organizers need to provide a new table for the extending group. Involved in the OPAL project are beside OUUK, UNESCO, ICDE, EFQUEL and many others. (www.oer-quality.org)
Related to open access to education is the access to the internet of the conference facilities. Some of the conference delegates have struggled a bit to get their connection running if they are using WindowsXP or Windows Vista. The reason is the rather strict security controls of the Universitat Politecnica di Valencia – let’s see the advantage of it: Your data will be safe! For those who are still wondering how to get access to the internet, just a small hint: When you are connected with the UPVNET, you need to create a new connection and select “VPN”. The address of the VPN server is “vpn.upv.es” – finally you can register with your data using “DELEGXXX” as username (XXX is your personal number).
Two very nice “innovations” in this year, I would like to emphasize: The first name on the conference badge is written bigger than the second one, because the conference delegates are simply call each other only with the first name. Secondly, the live stream of the plenary sessions this morning was very successful! Although I have been in the plenary just 5 meter in front of the speaker, I logged in the live stream and saw the enormous amount of followers. In particular in Twitter the live stream was posted several times. Great!
What they do enjoy, says Martin, is the ability to express themselves and share their ideas, in a real-time interactive environment. This is why social media tools such as Facebook and Youtube are infinitely more popular for students that the institutional tools and platforms we all buy into. The moment Google became a verb, he said, the world changed. And we need to change with it.
EDEN 2010 has finally kicked off with the first plenary session in a hall predominantly clad with wooden panels. We have had an introduction from Alan Tait, followed by an orientation of Valencia, the Politechnic University of Valencia, and then some of the web tools (including Sakai) that are used extensively by our host institution.
Synchronous distance teaching seems to be a popular option - they use a combination of media including video links to achieve this on conventional course too. This institution is largely a technical university, so topics such as engineering are central. More than 50 percent of the 35,000 students use some form of distance learning during their studies.
There were also a small number of Fellowship awarded to a smattering of applause, and then people went back to their drinks and chat. Several interesting conversations were had, and these continued for a number of us later down on the seafront, in a most excellent fish restaurant. I will when I have more time recount (and possibly recant) some of the conversation topics in later posts, but for now, EDEN looks set for another great few days. If the rain holds off (it's been tipping it down here in Valencia this evening) it will be a memorable one - there are almost 400 delegates here from 49 countries, and the sessions run into Saturday lunchtime.
I'll stop there - more to report tomorrow as it happens.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Nearly 400 expert colleagues of distance and e-learning registered for the event from 49 countries to follow the most interesting programme of the event. This year an exeptional attention of colleagues from outside Europe has accompanied the conference, representing 17% of the delegates.
Conference delegates members partners and friends of EDEN are invited to follow the 2010 Conference either from the session rooms in Valencia or by watching the online webcast of the plenary sessions.
Join us to share your experiences and comment on the most exciting issues via this blog, making this conference a rich social-professional experience in the cyberspace!