Thursday, 10 June 2010

Setting a President

So my friend Morten Flate Paulsen has been duly elected the 100th President of EDEN (Surely some mistake here? - Ed) and takes over the office from Alan Tait. I'm sure Morten will do a great job, because, coming from Viking stock, he will take no nonsense from anyone. Actually, joking aside, Morten is one of the nicest guys you could ever expect to meet - quiet spoken, but extremely intelligent, well qualified, hugely popular and a very good looking guy as well. OK, I'm creeping here, because I gather there are some Presidential body guard jobs going, and I like to wear the shades, and hover my hand threateningly close to my inside pocket, you know what I mean? (You'll be lucky - Ed).

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)

Revive workshop podcast cont.

There is the fifth part of the podcast of the Revive workshop.

Revive workshop podcast cont.

There is the fourth part of the podcast of the Revive workshop.

Getting you bloggers to write...

Look, I'm only going to post text OK? I don't have time for all this image and video posting malarky, I neither have the technology nor the proclivity. (Some large words there Steve - Ed). I will leave that to the likes of whizz kids like Eva Suba and Idilko Whatsername.

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...

Virtual Peer Review in Practice

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

Revive workshop podcast

There is the third 10 minutes slice podcast of the Revive workshop.

Revive workshop podcast cont.

There is the second 10 minutes slice podcast of the Revive workshop.

Valencia, varied and voracious

We have enjoyed an interesting and varied programme here at Day 1 proper of the 19th EDEN Conference. The day dawned bright and almost cloudless, in great contrast to last evening, when the rain in spain became a pain and threatened to send our good hopes down the drain. We have met for coffee and lunch in the large marquee outside the main conference venue - in itself a good decision, because it gives us all a chance to don our sunglasses, and pose outside in th bright sun, networking, chatting, entering into conspiratorial circles (surely not - Ed) and generally making a nuisance of ourselves. Some complained that the excellent Valencian Paella they served up for lunch was all gone by the time they arrived at the marquee. Some people must have voracious appetites then, but you know what they say - the early bird catches the worm. (Look, I am not suggesting that there were any vermiform creatures cooked up in the paella, OK?). Anyway, we all enjoyed lunch. There were many excellent conversations to be had with the likes of George Siemans, Niall Sclater, Thomas Richter, Grainne Conole, Michael Moore, Ricardo Torres Kompen, Gila Kurtz, Ann Gaskell, Judith Collier,Jenny Kilgore, Pedro Nito, Alan Tait, Jack Koumi and many many more too numerous to mention. But I'm not going to drop any names, you understand.

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.

Revive workshop podcast

There is the first 10 minutes slice podcast of the Revive workshop.

OER and access: reflection on the 1st day of the conference

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. (

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 “” – 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!

Blogger on the ground

Steve is getting a close look on the contributors of the first plenary session while Illuminate is streaming the presentations to the world wide web.

Mr Bean

Martin Bean, newly installed Vice-Chancellor of the UK Open University, is very self-effacing, but he needn't be. His ideas about the future of higher education, including the mantra of globalisation, massification and privatisation is a machine gun delivery of the influences that will drive educational provision in the near future. We do not, he says have enough resources to construct the buildings needed to satsify demands. Distance education through the support of technology has got to be the best way forward. But to do this, says Martin, we need first to understand that in order to create access to education through these new means, we first need to understand our current generation of students. Students don't like to pay for anything, so content must be free or at least heaviliy subsidised. They also hate being constrained in their self-expression and they don't like badly designed leaning environments.

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.

University Politecnic Valencia

These posts are going to be quick and dirty - no thrills, but hopefully some interesting content for you to read to get a flavour of the EDEN Conference.

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.

A grand opening

While there are no official openings for EDEN conferences - no standing to attention with hands on hearts while the national anthem of the host country is played, and no tacky parades or similar malarky - there is always a welcome reception. And tonight, for the 19th Conference (yes, next year in Dublin will be our 20th anniversary!) we all gathered in a rather splendid marquee outside the conference venue to watch (but not hear - the microphone was woefully inadequate) current EDEN President Alan Tait welcome delegates to the event, and then award a Senior Fellowship of EDEN to distance education pioneer and Briton Michael Moore (yes, he's one of ours, youse guys!).

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.