Reflections on the PELeCON conference


I really enjoyed the PELeCON conference. I liked the format; in terms of the mix of themed sessions, interactive workshops and lots of keynotes. Unfortunately there were less people at the conference this year, which is a shame as it was excellent. It was good to meet up with old friends and to finally meet people I interact with on twitter and flickr, in particular the Irish contingent – Catherine Cronin, Mary Loftus and Pam O’Brien. There were lots of opportunities to chat and network. Great also to finally meet Don Taylor, Steve Bunce and Doug Belshaw (herby known as the bearded one).

Digital literacies seemed to be a recurrent theme across many of the sessions, which was great as it aligned to one of the key themes of my keynote. I’m working up a paper to go alongside my presentation, which is turning into a mini-thesis! Will blog about in due course, but here is a summary of the main themes I covered in the talk.

I began with a quote from Einstein that Joyce Seitzinger had posted on fb:

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.

I really like this, as I think it should at the forefront of our minds when we are designing learning interventions.

I then described an elearning timeline, highlighting key milestones; from rich multimedia resources in the late eighties through to MOOCs in the last few years. I focused in particular on some of the key characteristics of social and participatory media, such as distributed, networked, open, dynamic, social, complex and participatory. I then summarized some of the findings from the MATEL study which has done an in-depth analysis of emergent technologies across four sectors: schools, tertiary, VET and adult learning. I then described the meta-learning model, I have recently blogged about and showed how it could be used to map different pedagogical approaches. I then shared four examples of how technologies can be used to promote different pedagogical approaches, namely: drill and practice, mobile learning, situative learning, and immersive learning.

I then shared some of my current thinking on the relationship between identity, presence and interaction online. I argued that identity is how you present yourself online and how you interact and communicate with others. I used Mark Childs’ definition of presence as consisting of four aspects: mediated presence (“being there”/immersion), social presence (projection of ourselves, perception of others), copresence (being somewhere with others) and self presence (or embodiment). Finally in terms interaction I drew on Moore’s transactional distance work (Moore 1989)(interaction between learner and teacher, learners and learners, learners and content) and Hillan et al.’ additional dimension (learning and interface) (Hillman, Willis et al. 1994).

The final part of the talk argued that despite the potential of technologies there is a gap between the promise and reality and that teachers need guidance and support to make pedagogically informed design decisions, that make good use of technologies and outlined our work on the 7Cs of Learning Design. I’ve posted my final slides on slideshare.


Hillman, D. C., D. J. Willis, et al. (1994). “Learner-interface interaction in distance education: an extension of contemporary models and strategies for practitioners.” The American Journal of Distance Education 8(2): 30-42.

Moore, M. (1989). “Three types of interaction.” American Journal of Distance Education 3(2): 1-6.