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An update on the PLE2011 conference

May 9th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am extremely busy today but time for a quick catch up on the Personal Learning Environments Conference 2011, being held from July 11- 13 in Southampton UK.

Last years conference in Barcelona attracted nearly 90 submissions, far in excess of what we expected. This year we had less, with 65 papers, symposia and workshops. I don’t think the lesser number was due to reduced interest, but rather that in the present economic climate, many researchers are finding it hard to gain funding for conferences (I will write a further blog on how we can deal with this). I suspect also that beautiful though Southampton may be, it does not match Barcelona in terms of conference pulling power! We have just finished the review procedure with all the attendant difficulties of establishing shared criteria and quality standards for reviews and persuading overworked colleagues tos pare the time for an unpaid for activity.

Out of the 65 submissions we have rejected two for not meeting the submission guidelines. A further four are ‘borderline’ and we are further reviewing those proposals. Happily the rest are considered good enough fro acceptance.

The good news – in general the standard of submissions is much higher this year than last year. I suspect there are two main reasons for this – firstly an improved common understanding in our communities around the idea of Personal Learning Environments. Last year we had problems in that in many proposals it was hard to relate the focus of the paper to the idea of PLEs – this year that relationship is much clearer. The second reason is that we extended the length of abstracts this year and that seems to have improved the quality.

But I still get the feeling that a number of submissions do not do justice to the ideas and research on which they are based. I do not find it easy writing proposal abstracts and wonder if there is some mileage in firstly a little collective thinking in what we are looking for in a proposal and how we can convey that to potential contributors and secondly a more inclusive and supporting procedure to help those – especially ’emerging’ researchers in writing quality proposals. Any ideas welcome.

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