Last week I attended the Blended Learning conference at the University of Hertfordshire. Since then I’ve been missing and AFK (visiting family), and then a bit under the weather. So here is the much belated part 1 of the post conference thoughts and reflections… just an overview of the day itself.
It was a long day for me… left the house at 5.15am to catch an early flight (and the flight back was delayed almost an hour due to an admin error!). Got to the conference in time for coffee and pain au chocolat.
A very busy schedule of talks – 6 streams for most of the sessions. This was a bit of a shame, and a number of times in the schedule one study on the use of blogs (or whatever) would be up against another.
Second Life made brief appearances in the introduction by the director of Hertfordshire’s Blended Learning Unit and again in Grainne Conole’s keynote. In sharp contrast to a year or so ago when I had difficulty discussing Second Life at all at an educational event, now it appears to be a must-do at an event like this to mention a Second Life project.
Nice touch in the introduction though when the audience were asked if they had tried Second Life. A fair sized scattering of hands throughout the audience. Then they were asked if they liked it. At least 3/4 of the hands went down. Given the difficulties with orientation in Second Life, I don’t think I’m surprised with those results, but it didn’t stop a good audience turning up for my talk later in the day. More on that later.
The conference made pretty good use of technology itself. Elluminate was used to make all talks available on the internet. In each session there was a PC under the speakers’ control, and another logged into Elluminate controlled by an online moderator. The moderator was there to set the video feed of the speaker and also clicked through a copy of the presentation for online attendees. It wasn’t possible to tell how many people were logging in to see the talks, and online attendees were only given an opportunity to ask questions in one of the sessions I attended, but it all seemed to go very smoothly.
Overall the Blended Learning Unit at Hertfordshire did an excellent job of organising the conference. I think they did let themselves down just a little though by dedicating a bit too much time and space to their own work at what is a national conference… sure I spotted one of their members with at least three posters on display. Hosts privilege I guess.
The theme of the conference was ‘Supporting The Net Generation Learner’, and the idea of the Net Generation Learner is clearly related to the idea of the ‘Digital Native’… but I think without the same set of connotations. I’ll try and expand on this in a following post, along with some more detailed reflections from the day.