I’ve been quite busy over the last few weeks, but I did manage to get back to the day job earlier this week and attend the APT Conference at the University of Greenwich. There was a really great programme and I found every session I went to really informative. Unlike keynote speaker Stephen Downes, I don’t record every presentation I do, and despite his best efforts to convince us all to do so, I’m not going to start anytime soon. However, I do try and reflect on every conference presentation I make, and every event I go to, and at the very least share my slides openly.
The theme of the conference was Connected Learning in an Open World, and Stephen got the day off to a great start with his keynote, where he challenged the traditional role of HE institutions, the cost of education, how current business drivers /models are trying their best to make us pay for open. This is my sketchnote of the talk. As ever a larger, CC version is available by clicking on the image.
My colleague Evelyn McElhinney and I presented our work on mapping student’s online residency. Since my last post we have conducted another workshop and some more issues, particularly around the use of online spaces are emerging. As we work with students getting them to map their use of online spaces, it is becoming apparent that there is currently a lack of useful utility type services in terms in access to our educational spaces compared with other “real life” utility type services. This is raising questions for us in terms of thinking about what kinds of services we need to develop. We need to make sure access to what Mark Stubbs calls the “hygiene factors” i.e. timetables, reading lists and our course material is easy, but that the learning activities themselves are still challenging. I’ll elaborate more on this in another post
Space and place was something that came up in the final panel session, which I was roped into. I firmly believe that traditional campus based institutions do have a future. People want to go to University, there is more to the HE experience, and indeed any kind of learning than content and courses. Successful interactions (and not just educational ones) require confidence and social skills. In an online context these are even more crucial. As anyone who has been on any kind of online course, never mind a massive one, online education can be a lonely experience.
I had to leave the panel a bit early to catch my flight home, and of course it was just as things were starting to get interesting. One particular set of questions from the floor centred on the perceived “best of breed” approach of the Oxbridge tutorial system. We can’t replicate that everywhere, and like many I don’t think we should be. I’m not sure if that type of experience really does much more than continue the power of the old boy network, which given the current state of the world isn’t doing that well unless you are part of that club or rich enough not to need to care. Along with everyone else who went to the session on Digital Dissidence and CVs (creative visionary spaces), I was really impressed by Anthea, a recent Greenwich graduate, as she showed us via music, video and images how she had been encouraged to express her professional knowledge and herself in a truly multimedia and meaningful way. Mark Webb’s innovative program exploring cultural diversity in relating to professional development is something I can see working in so many contexts, but I doubt that there would be such richness in an Oxbridge class, and it is more the poorer for that.
Thanks to everyone involved in organising the conference and to all the presenters. I really hope I can get back to Greenwich for next’s years conference.
Here are the slides from our presentation.