E-learning in Zurich

gudrun and evaI’ve just returned from doing a keynote at the ELC-NET conference in Zurich. Picture Eva Seiler Schiedt (conference organiser) and Gudrun Bachmann (Basel University). The day was designed in two halves: the morning with four keynotes (the others were Lorenzo Cantoni from Lugano, Don MacKenzie from Derby and Erik de Graaf from Delft) and the afternoon with a series of parallel interactive sessions. The topics in the morning were broad ranging and provided a useful snapshot of some of the current research in e-learning along with key issues. Lorenzo opened with an excellent considered piece on Open Educational Resources. Don provided some valuable practical examples of how e-assessment can be used in a variety of different imaginative and challenging ways. Erik considered the possibilities new Virtual Learning Environments offered for learning. I used some of the data from our learner experience research and other international studies as a means of looking at how use of new technologies is changing the way students learn (the process of learning) and their approach to learning (and associated motivation and attitudes). I then reported on our learning design work which is working towards creating a pick and mix learning design toolbox to provide support for teachers in making decisions about using technologies. The presentation is up on slideshare. I concluded by looking at the implications of the changing external environment, and ever evolving technologies in particular, at both institutional (strategy/policy, roles and structures) and individual (teacher/student – skills and motivations and learning/teaching – changing paradigms) levels. Schewa MandelOne of the interesting things about attending different conferences is seeing the way they are organised and what works well. I particularly liked the afternoon format of the conference. Lunch was located in amongst the posters and interactive sessions so that delegates could browse and talk to the authors over lunch. The picture is of Schewa Mandel, organiser of the conference, during the lunchtime session. Three parallel sessions were designed to try out different interactive formats to encourage discussion and debate. Lorenzo chaired the ‘Learning café’ session on OERs which was designed as a series of informal tables for discussion. Don chaired a panel session on quality assurance in e-assessment and I was part of the poster session on new ways of e-learning chaired by Eric. It is evident that people are increasingly keen to supplement the traditional lecture style conference format with alternative more interactive sessions. Koni Osterwalder, one of the co-organisers, challenged me in his introduction for my suggestion of having a walking conference (something that David McConnell and other researchers reported working as a nice format) – so maybe next year in Zurich in the Alps – now that definitely sounds like my kind of conference!!!