EeePC one; Michael nil

My attempt yesterday to semi-live blog was scuppered by an obscure problem with my laptop so you’ll have to survive with my four-day-old memories of the conference!

Picking up from where I left off – after welcomes from Mark Flinn and Alison Mackenzie and an introduction from Mark Schofield we went into the first keynote talk.

Les Watson from the Glasgow Caledonian University began:

There is, as yet, no paradigm for the 21st Century University

Saltire Centre - Norma Desmond - Creative Commons LicenceThe talk built up to what they’re doing at the Saltire Centre, an impressive learning space by the look of the photos and a million miles away from what I had at my University.

I’m not going to go over everything in the talk – you can find a copy of the slides from a very similar presentation online – but I’ll do my brain dump here:

  • Be unhappy (with the way things are)
  • The truly successful businessman is essentially a dissenter
  • Michael Wesch’s “If these walls could talk” (in case you’ve not seen it already)
  • Decreasing creativity with age. 2% at 25
  • Barcodes

My first breakout session was “How can we make our online content interesting?” by Edge Hill’s Lindsey Martin and Mark Roche, now at MMU talking about how they structured an online module to make the content as engaging as possible. The challenges are similar to those we have when designing for public facing websites – how to put across a lot of information in a way that people can understand and absorb when reading online. A lot of effort is spent editing text, choosing photos and coming up with innovative ways of navigating content for the web, and we’re not there yet. We can probably learn from the way teaching resources are provided and maybe some of the techniques we try to promote to staff with a responsibility for supplying content for the corporate site can also be applied to course content.

After the break was the chaired session – three presentations with a linked topic, in my case “embedding eLearning”

Helen Bell and Rachel Bury (of this Parish) presented the steps being taken here towards a baseline entitlement for the VLE. The exact baseline varies slightly between faculties but by September every first year undergraduate starting at Edge Hill will have access to some core information through Blackboard.

Ryan Bird from the University of Reading gave details of their Pathfnder project.

Third session was Peter Reed (Edge Hill University) and Richard Hall (De Montfort University) talking about their Pathfinder projects. Both gave an interesting insight into the work they’re doing. Lawrie Phipps asked a question about whether the work being done at DMU could be seen as an exit strategy for their VLE. DMU’s approach seems to be more about upskilling staff to allow them to make better use of all technologies whether they be part of an institutional VLE or third party web applications.

Final part of the day for me (before sneaking back to the office) was the second keynote from Eric Hamilton. I attended his workshop last year and some of the same issues were raised then but it was good to see some of the ideas expressed in a new way. The concept of sightlines in a teaching setting always interests me, as does the baseball model of statistics – give everything to the user and let them figure out what they want.

I’m going to leave it at that for now – if you’ve got any questions or want me to expand on anything please leave a comment. The conference overall was very useful and has given me much to think about over the coming months.

My experiment with live blogging however leaves much to be desired. I’m not going to give up though – I shall try again at IWMW 2008!

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