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More on online conferencing

July 10th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Yesterday we held the first of a series of online conferences for the Jisc SSBR project which supports the 40 odd projects presently being funded under the Jisc Institutional Innovation programme.

We gad about 70 attending the confernce which used Elluminate as the main platform. I have organised and participated in a lot of on-line events over the past 18 months and though we have much experience in organising such events by now we are still, I think, in a learning curve. Therefore it is worth a  few reflections on what works, what doesn’t and what might be improved.

First something (short) about my main role in the event. We ‘wrapped’ the conference in an internet radio show, broadcasting before the conference opened, at the coffee, lunch and tea breaks and with a  follow up evening programme. the daytime broadcasts were also streamed into Elluminate and we continued on internet radio in the morning to allow those not registered for the conference to listen to John Cook’s keynote speech on ‘Surfing the Moble Wave’ (podcast available here shortly). I think this worked well. To get the stream into Elluminate is easy – we merely hijacked the feed as a microphone in Elluminate. Although the sound quality in Elluminate is not great, from what people tell me the radio provided continuity to the conference.

In the main event the presentations went well. we are well rehearsed in organising and moderating these by now. The one thing we were most nervous about was moving people into breakout groups in the afternoon. Somewhat surprisingly this worked well at a technical level. However people felt that these sessions were too short. And one session in the morning where we invited people to give short reports to the whole room was not so successful. Overtly the problem was technical, with sound breaking up and poor quality audio at other times. I am not quite sure what the problem was. It may be lack of bandwidth from participants although elluminate claims to work on low bandwidth. More likely I suspect, was poor quality headsets. The quality of the microphone seems to make a huge difference for online presenters. I also think that 70 is too many people to organise a high degree of interaction in online events. Merely managing so many provides problems. If we want to organise interaction, participation and discussion in large online conferences, it is probably better to divide into groups with feedback in short plenaries.

As always in such conferences when technical problems occur, people were extolling the virtue of various different platforms. I am unconvinced that any are better than Elluminate. However some rethinking of the user interfaces would be helpful. especially to make groups management easier (allowing people to move themselves int0 a group would be good – anyone listening at Elluminate? – and also a larger chat box).

At the end of the day, organising and managing online confernces is not that different form face to face events. But there are some significant differences and we still need to keep thinking how we can best facilaite interaction in online events.

Reshaping our practice

July 8th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Yesterday I received a message from Miles Berry reminding me I had agreed to deliver a keynote at the Open Source Schools conference in Nottingham on 20 June (have to admit it had slipped my mind!). So I searched the web to dig out what the conference was all about and arrived at the conference wiki.

What a fabulous site! This is an unconference with contributors being invited to develop themes, presentations and and collaboration around sessions being through the wiki. This exemplifies what I have been banging on about for the last few months. We need to use technologies – not just as a teaching tool – but to shape and reshape our own practices. As a community of practice we need to explore how we can use the potential of social software in our own daily practice for collaboration, for our own (collective learning) and for developing and sharing knowledge within our community. And that practice will inevitably change how we have traditionally organised our work – for instance through conferences seminars and publications.

This is also true of research into technology enhanced learning. It is almost impossible to research the use of technologies for learning  without experiencing the use ourselves. This not only means using technology as an adjunct or aid to more effective research practices but also rethinking methodologies towards a more action research oriented approach.

Congratulations to Miles and his colleagues for having a go!

A day of internet radio goodness

July 7th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

This Thursday features a day of LIVE internet radio to support the Jisc Institutional Innovation programme online conference on Institutional Impact.

We will be broadcasting four programmes during the day.

The Morning Programme

The morning programme starts at 10.00 CET (9.00 UK Summer Time) and will run until 1215 CET. The will feature music and chat. At around 11.00 CET we will brodacst Professor John Cook’s keynote speech on “Scaffolding the Mobile Wave”

  • How can learning activities that take place outside formal  institutions, on platform of the learners choice, be brought  into institutional learning? New digital media can be regarded as cultural resources that can  enable the bringing together of the informal learning contexts in  the world outside the institution with those processes and contexts  that are valued inside the intuitions. The big problem is that reports show that Social Software and Google  are not enabling the critical, creative and reflective learning that  we value in formal education.

The Lunch Time Show
The lunch time broadcast will be from 1400 – 1430 CET (1300 – 1330 UK Summer Time. The show will feature interviews with Ruth Drysdale from Jisc and David Morris plus more music.

The Afternoon Show
The mid afternoon show from 1600 – 1630 CET (1500 – 1530 UK Summer Time)  will feature guest slots from Howard Noble from the Low Carbon ICT project and from Luis Francisco Pedro form Portugal on introducing PLEs throughout the institution.

The Evening Show
The evening show kicks off at 1930 CET 18.30 UK summer Time. Besides providing a chance for quick reflections on the conference, it will also be featuring interviews with leading researchers and practitioners on institutional innovation from all over Europe (we have some great gusts lined up – I will try to provide you with a trailer for them tomorrow). From 2000 CET (1900 UK Summer Time) onwards it will also be streamed into Second Life for participants in the Institutional Innovation conference social event. The show ends at 2030 CET (19.30 UK Summer Time).

How to listen to the programme.

You can access the internet radio feed by going to http://radio.jiscemerge.org.uk:80/Emerge.m3u in your browser. This will open the stream in your MP3 programme of choice (e.g, iTunes).

Please feel free to just sit back and enjor the show. But if you would like to come on the show live to provide your reflections and ideas about the issues being discussed then please skype or email Graham Attwell – graham10 [at] mac [dot] com or GrahamAttwell on skype.

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    Adult Education in Wales

    Learning and Work Institute is organising this year’s adult learning conference in partnership with the Adult Learning Partnership Wales. It will take place on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

    They say “Changing demographics and a changing economy requires us to re-think our approach to the delivery of learning and skills for adults. What works and what needs to change in terms of policy and practice?

    The conference will seek to debate how can we respond to need, grow participation, improve and measure outcomes for citizens, and revitalise community education.”


    Industry 4.0

    The UK Education Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the challenges posed and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.The Committee is inviting written evidence on:

    • The interaction between the Government’s industrial, skills and digital strategies
    • The suitability of the current curriculum to prepare young people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    • The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the delivery of teaching and learning in schools and colleges
    • The role of lifelong learning in re-skilling the current workforce
    • Place-based strategies for education and skills provision; and
    • The challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for improving social justice and productivity

    The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 21 June 2018.


    Online Educa Berlin

    OEB Global (formerly Online Educa Berlin) has announced its Call for Proposals and the overall theme for 2018: Learning to Love Learning. The event will incorporate Learning Technologies Germany – a leading European exhibition on learning technologies in the workplace – for the first time this year. More details here.


    Barcelona to go Open Source

    The Spanish newspaper, El País, has reported that the City of Barcelona is in the process of migrating its computer system to Open Source technologies.

    According to the news report, the city plans to first replace all its user applications with alternative open source applications. This will go on until the only remaining proprietary software will be Windows where it will finally be replaced with a Linux distribution.

    To support the move, the city will employ 65 new developers to build software programs for their specific needs. they also plan the development of a digital market – an online platform – whereby small businesses will use to take part in public tenders.


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