The Pontydsygu team is hard at work in Helsinki working on multimedia at the European Conference on Educational Research. The idea is three fold – firstly to start a process of turning the conference, which attracts over 200 delegates every year, outwards to those unable to attend face to face. Secondly we aim to enhance the conference experience through the use of social software and multimedia and thirdly to produce a rich record of ideas and discourses surrounding the conference.
ECER is a traditional research conference, organised through a series of different disciplinary and topic networks. It will take more than a year to change such a culture but we have made a modest beginning.
We now have a shared flickr group and a Twitter account. Both of those are integrated into the ECER web site. Compared to an educational technology conference, the us eof Twitter is limited but some delegates are beginning to ‘get the point’ and are using the conference #ECER2010 hash tag.
We are producing twelve videos based on interviews with the link conveners who coordinate different networks. Video is a new medium for many of these researchers, used to expressing tehir ideas through research papers, books and symposia. But I am happy with the interveiws we have undertaken so far and think hey will add a new dimension to explaining and sharing ideas.
I have mixed feelings about the video streaming. At a technical level we have learnt a lot. One of the things we wanted to do was provide high quality video. This is very different from the adhoc streaming from a webcam to ustream or Justin.tv. For one thing we felt that the advertising on these channels would be unacceptable to many of our potential audience. And the quality is simply not good enough. After a lot of investigations, we bought in streaming services from a Canadian company, Netromedia. Netromedia is not a portal, but instead provide a feed which can be embedded within a web site. And we have embedded Flash viewers in the ECER conference web site. We agreed to stream the keynotes from the conference. We patched the stream from the audio system in the rooms the keynotes were held, and mixed that with our video feed. The quality was on the whole extremely good. I am less convinced with the content. that is not to detract from the scholarly content of the keynote speeches themselves. I am just not sure that a 45 minute academic keynote is the best content for streaming from a conference. Better may be to focus on more interactive sessions, in which we can involve remote participants. More reflections on this in a future blog.
But now for the next interview…