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Impressions and trends from Online Educa Berlin

December 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Online Educa Berlin was hectic for us. We produced two 40 minute magazine radio programmes from the main bar at the conference, a 40  minute Question Time radio programme and organised a symposium around the recently launched Learning layers project. We will get posts up with recordings of the radio and presentations from the symposium in the next couple of days.

And we still found time to talk to friends new and old. Online Educa Berlin is a great meeting place, a chance to catch up on the latest personal and work related news and gossip from the educational technology community worldwide.

And it is also a good place to pick up on the emerging debates and on the latest in technology. In the conference, somewhat unsurprisingly, all the buzz was around massive Open Online Courses. And despite a recognition of the potential benefits in extending access to education, most delegates I spoke to were fairly dubious of the benefits of the emergent so called xMOOC model. Firstly it was hard to see a viable business model behind the new MOOCs, other than selling accreditation. And many delegates were sceptical about the pedagogic model underpinning the xMOOCs from the likes of Coursera. One person said to me that MOOCs are taking us backward ten years in pedagogic approaches to using technology for learning.

it was encouraging to see the growing strength of the business strand at the conference and an increased focus on work based learning.

The exhibition at Online Educa Berlin always provides a good snapshot of trends. Whilst there are a number of stands from national organisations and form projects most of the 90 odd exhibition stands are from vendors and companies, big and small. Whilst a few years ago the largest stands were usually organisations like the UK Jisc and Surf from the Netherlands  this year continued on last years trend of Middle East countries dominated the larger exhibitions pace. Last year Saudi Arabia took centre stage, this year is was EgyptOn, although it was a little hard to see what their stand was about, other than perhaps announcing their arrival in the community.

Last year was the year of the interactive Whiteboard. This year I did not see one stand promoting whiteboards! Trends change fast. This year was the year of the video with perhaps as many as 15 per cent of stands featuring video products, hardware and software. Having said that it was a little difficult to see the benefits of many of these commercial offerings. OK, they packaged features nicely. But I didn’t really see anything which couldn’t be done with everyday social software or consumer applications. And although there was some general feeling that we are moving towards a more visual approach to learning, rather than the previous domination of text, there were only limited examples of pedagogic innovation in using video.

Although the  usual VLE vendors were present as always, there was perhaps a feeling that their finest days are over. And it was surprising that there were few vendors focusing on mobile learning, although plenty of iPad apps were on display.

I should add I suppose that this is not based on any scientific enquiry but just is an impressionistic view of what was going on. But it is probably as reliable in predicting trends than the usual rush of end of year predictions to which we are about to be subjected.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came on our radio shows and with whom we enjoyed a natter. And to those we missed, lets hope we get a chance to meet up next year.

2 Responses to “Impressions and trends from Online Educa Berlin”

  1. Hi Graham,

    I enjoyed your Question Time show (I was the guy in the red tie asking the sceptical question about MOOCs). I agree with your thoughts here about MOOCs and the predominance of video-related services on the floor of the exhibition hall. But I would diagnose a more fundamental problem. Maybe expositive video is the hottest thing around because here is nothing better on offer? I suggest that there are some fairly fundamental problems with the whole of the TEL community. Would be interested in your comments on my post at http://edtechnow.net/2012/12/05/tel/.

    Thanks, Crispin.

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    I enjoyed your questions Crispin. Need some sceptics to make that sort of programme work. Thanks

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