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.