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Designing our learning spaces

April 12th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Over the next three months I will be blogging about our experiences in organising the PLE2010 conference.

First the background. Last September during a pleasant conference stay in Crete a group of us decided, somewhat audaciously, to organise a conference on Personal Learning Environments, PLE2010. We duly formed a small organising committee, of which I am a member, and invited leading researchers and practitioners to join an academic committee.

We spent a long time designing a detailed call for contributions, aided by the template for guidelines for authors from AltC which they had helpfully licensed under Creative Commons.

Whilst we wished to encourage academic contributions in the form of ‘proceedings papers’ and ‘short papers’ we wished to develop the conference as a community learning space and to facilitate communication and exchange of ideas. This, we felt, could be through encouraging more innovative forms of contributions to the conference through for instance the use of unconferencing spaces, Bring Your Own Laptop sessions, posters, Pecha Kucha, debates and so on.

The original deadline for contributions was March 24, which we later extended to April 7th. We ended up with 82 submission – far is excess of what we had expected. However, despite us stressing our willingness for innovative formats, 41 of these are for proceedings paper and 19 for short papers. We were happy that we had 8 submissions for workshops, although with only 2 submissions, the response to the call for papers was disappointing.

Wht to make of this? I do not think it is because researchers in the PLE community are wedded to traditional conference formats, but more likely because they are expected to deliver an academic paper in order to get funding from their institution or project to attcnd the conference.

We discussed these issues at a meeting of the project organising committee today. Clearly, we have to wait for the result of the reviewing process before we will know how many papers are finally accepted. But it is likely that if we schedule all the proceedings papers in the normal way – with 20 minutes for a presentation and 8 minutes for discussion – we will have to run a large number of parallel sessions, thus resulting potentially in a small audience for many presentations. A useful proposal today is that we write to those authors whose proposals are successful, offering them a variety of potential presentation formats (including a traditional paper session). That then leaves us a challenge – which I am passing on to blog readers. What kind of formats could be best to develop discussion round papers produced for a conference. can we think of more innovative approaches than the traditional 20 minute slide and tell session? How can we use technology before the conference to encourage an exchange around ideas? Please add nay ideas you had in the comments below.

I will keep you posted on what is decided.

We were delig

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6 Responses to “Designing our learning spaces”

  1. martin says:

    i had very positive experiences at the Microleanring Conferences with “speedgeeking paper sessions”: a session with 6 papers and (strictly) 8 minutes per paper, presented at bistro tables to 6-8 people in one room, people circulating clockwise from session to session.

    so you would just need 1 hour per session a 6 papers.

    surprisingly, that way presenters seemed to get more across in intensive 8 minutes (repeated 6 times to different listeners) than in 20 minutes of classical presentations where people do all kinds of things on their laptops.

    and another curious thing was, this format, intensive at is, seemed at least to the listeners less exhausting than the traditional format. (granted, for presenters it may be different, but they also seemed much more energized.)

  2. Frances Bell says:

    Grrr!! Just lost my carefully crafted response because you reject (with no warning!) responses from behind proxies.

  3. admin says:

    Dear Frances,
    very sorry to hear that but we had a tough last week with an increasing amount of spam in comments. So as a consequence I turned on that “avoid human spammers behind proxies” option of the anti-spam plugin. Sadly that it works also on real commenters. I wil think about that option.

    What I learned from similar lessons with webmailers, comment and contact forms: just mark all and copy before click submit your writings. Is a bit cheap argument here now but I try to do it now always working in/on browsers forms.


  4. Emma says:

    A few thoughts:

    You said that though you asked for “innovative” ideas, but you got lots of papers (presumably due to funding) – what sort of innovation were you thinking of? Could you get people to innovatively present their findings – to support the paper. So, the funding Uni gets their paper, but the presenters get to experiment?

    As to timing; I’d agree that short presentations can often have more impact than long ones; the HEA – ICS one year had very short presentations – in a “traditional” format … so, constrained people to really focus (and we didn’t get yet another overview of how poor the first years are at Java programming, rather, a solution they’d tried & its success … because, after all, we all have students who find java hard!)

    I like the idea, though, of the round tables! (You just need to get MS to sponsor it so they can demo their software on smart tables & let the participants play!)

  5. Emilio says:

    Think on the price too


  1. “..What kind of formats could be best to develop discussion round papers produced for a conference?” by @GrahamAttwell

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