I am at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in Vienna. It is a big conference with 2050 registered delegates. ECER is organised through into 27 or so different strands, each run by a network, on issues like the Philosophy of Education, the Professional Development of Teachers, Pre-school Education or so on.
I am working with VETNET, the Vocational Education and Training Network, which with some 120 delegates is the largest of the networks. As part of a small project promoted by VETNET we are producing multimedia from the conference. It is fairly hard work and a lot of fun.
But the main point of the project for me is to demonstrate the potential use of ICT for enhancing the ECER conference. Despite many presentations dealing with different issues related to technology, and a relatively small network, Network 16, focusing on ICT in education, there is little use of technology at the conference, other than using data projectors for powerpoint! As far as I can see only 4 people have twittered using the #ECER2009 hashatag. There is no conference social networking site. The programme comes in a big printed book and, with so many sessions, is difficult to follow. There are no data screens, no live streaming, no means for involving a wider audience unable to attend the conference. Few delegates have a computer open during presentations (despite an excellent, free wireless network), indeed I suspect many frown on me typing away (and twittering the conference) during sessions.
Yet ECER organisers I have talked to are interested in these ideas. It is just that it lies outside their experience. And indeed, given the lack of twittering, I suspect that the culture (or community) of educational research has not yet embraced these technologies. It is certainly a reality check for those of us working in the educational technology community. And given the importance of educational research for the future of teaching and learning, I think it is worrying. If the teachers of teachers, have little or no engagement with social networking technologies, it may be a long time before education finally engages in this area.
NB We have done some wonderfull interviews (audio and video) with many people at the conference. Hopefully we will start getting these online next week.