e-Learning Stuff Podcast #033: The Ascilite 2009 Keynote

February 7, 2010

James Clay’s Keynote at Ascilite 2009.

This is the thirty third e-Learning Stuff Podcast, The Ascilite 2009 Keynote.

A recording of James Clay’s Keynote at Ascilite 2009 in Auckland, in New Zealand. This took place in December 2009.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: The Ascilite 2009 Keynote

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Due to the nature of the recording, the audio quality of this podcast is lower than would normally be expected.

Tweetnoting at Ascilite 2009

December 12, 2009

So it was day three of Ascilite 2009 and this was a big day for me as I was delivering the final Keynote.

I checked that everything worked. Though I have given keynotes before, this was the first time I was going to tweet as I delivered my keynote. Using KeynoteTweet, an Applescript which in conjunction with Keynote will automatically send tweets as slides appear.

In the auditorium there were two projectors, one would have my slides upon them, whilst the other would have Twitterfall showing all the #ascilite09 tweets.

My slides were “new” but like other presentations I have delivered have either usually a single word or an image on them.

Twitterfall worked well, with a fair few people in the UK and elsewhere following the tweets from my keynote. Of course it can be “dangerous” having a live Twitter feed in your presentation, especially when it is behind you. However looking over the stream of Tweets it would appear everything went fine.

Gráinne Conole was very kind to live blog my keynote on Cloudworks and you can see the results here.

I enjoyed delivering the keynote and all the stuff worked from a technical perspective, bar one. So what didn’t work? I was hoping to use the Remote App on the iPhone, however I have found that this is unreliable when a lot of people are using the wireless network. In future I think I may create my own wireless network specifically for the presentation (I have a spare Airport Express I can use).

When I have better (upload) bandwidth I will upload the presentation to Slideshare and a recording of the keynote itself.

So what did others think? Well I have had some very positive feedback from people at the conference.

It’s about the conversation…

December 9, 2009

So it was day three of Ascilite 2009 and this was a big day for me as I was delivering the final Keynote.

As I was still doing some final preparation I missed out on the first morning session. After that I attended the Thinking about a new LMS: Comparing different institutional models and approaches symposium

Selecting a new Learning Management System (LMS) is a strategic decision. The LMS is a key part of your institutional culture and shapes not only the student experience but also the future direction of your institution. This symposium describes the experience from the initial selection phase to early implementation of Moodle in four case studies: University of Waikato, University of Canberra, University of Canterbury and Massey University. The central question explored is: how do you successfully implement a new LMS within a large institution? In answering this question, the symposium compares and contrasts different models and approaches to successfully implementing such an important educational innovation and large-scale institutional change. The symposium shares lessons learnt from each university and offers participants an excellent opportunity to hear first hand about the benefits and challenges of adopting an open source LMS in the university sector.

This was an interesting presentation with some useful experiences that were passed on.The experiences by the four institutions had valuable lessons to pass onto any other institution contemplating changing their LMS or VLE.

However I do feel that it shouldn’t have been labelled as a symposium. Now though a symposium originally referred to a Greek drinking party, it is now used to describe an openly discursive format, rather than a lecture and question–answer format.

The LMS symposium was a series of four presentations with a few questions at the end. That is not a symposium, that is a series of four presentations with a few questions at the end…

It would appear that I am not alone in thinking that the symposium format needs to be rethought for academic conferences.

Sebastian Fiedler on his symposium said in his blog:

Altogether, our slightly eclectic individual statements/presentations apparently worked as a conversation opener. There was clearly interest in the over-arching theme and present ASCILITErs were eager to chime in an voice their opinions. However, when things just started to get somewhat interesting we already had to wrap up the session and disperse the convention. I found this extremely unfortunate.

He goes onto suggest:

I can easily imagine to simply start with a conversation among a group of informed peers on stage… that gradually draws in more and more participants. It would provide a hyperlink-cloud around the individual contributors to get an idea of where they are coming from, and possible end with recommendations on further readings… plus some form of mediated conversation and exchange beyond the event. No presentations, no lecture halls, no 60 min time-slots.

When I was planning the original VLE is Dead symposium at ALT-C 2009 one of the key issues for me was to ensure that the delegates attending the debate had ample time and opportunity for discussion.

So how did we do this?

Well the first thing we did was get the discussion going well before the conference. The speakers were posting to their blogs with their views. One result of this was that lots of people responded to those blog posts, which continued the debate.

At the symposium itself, we restricted the amount of time to each presenter to just five minutes; Josie in the chair was under strict instructions to stop us after five minutes. I also wanted the presenters not to use PowerPoint, though in the end some presenters did use them.

As a result we had a wonderful debate looking at a range of issues, allowing delegates an opportunity to ask questions, voice their opinions and join in.

Well our symposium worked very well, with a room for 80, we had 150 delegates in the room, and about 200 online. I recorded the debate and that video has now been seen (at the time of writing) by over 1500 people!

So what can we learn from this, especially those that are thinking of putting in symposium submissions and conference organisers.

Lesson 1: Less is more

If you can’t get your viewpoint across in five minutes then you just need to try harder. Likewise I wouldn’t have more than four presenters for an hour debate and no more than six for a ninety minute session. Don’t try and cover “everything” try to keep to a single or simple viewpoint.

Lesson 2: Early start

Start the debate early well before the conference. Get the presenters to blog their viewpoints. Encourage others to debate the issue using their blogs. Use Twitter to get the debate going.

Lesson 3: Amplify

If you can stream your symposium over the internet, use a service such as Ustream. Use Twitter to cover the debate and if possible have a Twitterfall type service showing during the debate.

So ask yourself the next time you consider running a symposium, are you interested in the debate or are you only interested in presenting your point of view.

Effecting change

December 8, 2009

So it’s day two of Ascilite 2009.

I walked slightly late into the opening session, which was a presentation from Blackboard (who are the Premier Sponsor of Ascilite 2009). Despite chuckling at a few things that the presenter said (there is no way whatsoever that Blackboard can be described as an open platform). There were some interesting developments from Blackboard on how they are integrating Web 2.0 services into Blackboard. Those of you who have read my recent posts on the VLE is Dead debate will know that I wrote then that the VLE can be a tool to enhance and enrich learning and be a portal to a world of Web 2.0 tools and services. Now when I wrote this I was in the main referring to Moodle, the open source VLE. It would appear that either customers have been asking, or that Blackboard is fearful of the open VLE or Web 2.0 and are now making their product more open to plugging in services and tools that are available on the Web.

After that we had the ever excellent Professor Gráinne Conole, who delivered her keynote, entitled: Pushing the boundaries into the unknown, trajectories of user behaviour in new frontiers.

I enjoyed her presentation, and I was also attempting to live blog her keynote on Cloudworks; not sure if I made a success of that. Live blogging is an art, and not one I think I have mastered yet. Maybe it’s because I am more of a reflective person. This blog article for example is been written at 6.30pm, quite a few hours after Gráinne delivered her keynote.

Cloudworks is really starting to grow on me as a collective tool. The resources on the VLE is Dead debate for example have made it much easier to direct people to the superb collection of blog articles on the subject. Gráinne’s overview of the site and the ways in which it can be used was very illuminating.

After Gráinne came Peter Mellow who very cleverly used the two projectors to deliver two linked presentations. Though first we were all made to stand up.

He made some really interesting points on how we have been doing exactly the same thing for the last two thousand years in education…

Over the rest of the day I attended a variety of sessions, some good, some excellent and some, well some not so good.

Tonight is the conference dinner in the SkyTower, should be fun and a great chance to discuss and continue the conversation.

Small interventions, fundamental shifts

December 7, 2009

This morning I was at one of the Symposia at Ascilite 2009, Cascading Change: The role of social software and social media in educational intervention and transformation.

In recent years social media and social software tools and practices have been applied in numerous implementation and pilot studies in higher. Some have been driven by explicit educational goals, while others seem to have been inspired by the attractive, technical flexibility of an emerging decentralized landscape of loosely-coupled, networked tools and services and its alleged potential for changing the dominant patterns of institutional provision of ICT in education. This symposium brings together a diverse and international group of researchers to explore the problems and limitations of using social media as a leverage point for second-order change in higher education. It aims to engage contributors and the audience in theoretical and empirical reflection on possible directions for further conceptual and methodological development in that area.

This was an interesting debate and as is usually the case there wasn’t sufficient time for a lot of discussion. I was hoping with the Twitterfall screen up that we could have an online debate, however Twitter decided to have a big fail. Ah well.

One of the questions that came up was why with all these “interventions” why is change so slow or not happening.

My opinion is that these changes or interventions we make that we report at these conferences are always small and tiny and therefore can’t make a huge differences. We need to make major interventions at a institutional or even at a societal level if we are to effect fundamental change.

I also wonder if the culture of how we work is also a barrier to systematic change. In HE especially with a focus on research and publication, there is less incentive to effect change and more incentive to carry on researching and attending conferences and getting papers published.

People with the power to effect change do not (in the main) attend such conferences and therefore such changes do not happen at an institutional level.

Of course change does happen at an institutional level, but often with administrative systems rather than teaching and learning. For example does your institution use e-mail or MIS ?

As with the MIT OpenCourseWare and other similar initiatives in this area we can see that sometimes there can be fundamental shifts in the ways institutions work.

So how do we move things along…

Ascilite Day #1

December 7, 2009

So here we are with the official start of the Ascilite 2009 Conference. As I write this it’s late Monday morning in Auckland, but late Sunday evening back home in the UK. It feels weird blogging and tweeting about the conference, whilst people I know back in the UK are getting ready to go to sleep.

With a traditional Māori welcome we then launched into the traditional conference openings from the great and the good.

The first keynote of the conference was form Dr Scott Diener of the University of Auckland. He is an advocate of Second Life and described how he saw how Second Life was going to change education. He was very passionate about Second Life and its use in education. He demonstrated his island live to the audience.

Now I have talked about Second Life before and as you may know I don’t really “get it”.

I either seem to be the technology luddite with the red flag walking in front of the Second Life car, or maybe Second Life is not this life changing and social changing technology that many think it is.

Now it may be just me, for example I can see some real potential and benefits of Augmented Reality technologies, but don’t see similar opportunities with Second Life.

Of course this doesn’t mean I am right, but what do you think?

ASCILITE 2009 Day -2

December 4, 2009

Well after what feels like a week of travelling I have arrived in New Zealand ahead of ASCILITE 2009.

I am jointly presenting a workshop on mobile learning on Sunday 6th December. I am also delivering the final keynote on the 9th December.

I am hoping to take away lots of stuff and ideas from the conference. Hats the thing about conferences is that there are ideas and thoughts that you can take back and implement at your own institution. I also see this conference as an opportunity to see what happens here on the other side if the world. We have many things in common but also differences in climate, calenders, seasons and culture.

I will be blogging and also using video to capture my thoughts as the conference progresses. I will link to these blog entries from both the conference hub (which uses Moodle) and from Cloudworks.

More later…


November 27, 2009

Currently busy with lots of stuff, MoLeNET, JISC Online Conference and preparing for ASCILITE 2009. Not had much time to blog, plenty to talk about though.

ALT-C Reflections Part One

September 15, 2009

I really enjoyed ALT-C last week and not just because I won an award. It was an excellent conference and I found it a very rewarding experince from both a delegate’s perspective and as a presenter.

It was really nice to meet up with a lot of different people, some I knew, some I knew only from the web, some I had never met and those that knew me though I didn’t know them.

There was some great presentations, workshops, keynotes and debates and I felt I learnt a lot and was given a lot to think about.

I had a reasonable journey up to Manchester (no connectivity on the train) and having arrived, caught a taxi to the venue. I was relieved to see that my Glossy Poster had safely arrived though for some unknown reason at that time my flyers for my workshops and that symposium had failed to arrive.

I bumped into a few people I knew and then someone came up to me and said hello. I recognised him, but couldn’t name the face… I hate it when that happens, and after turning over their name badge (why do they always flip the wrong way at the wrong moments) I saw it was Richard Elliot from New Zealand. I am doing the keynote at ASCILITE 2009 conference so it was good to meet one of the organisers to chat and discuss the conference.

After the pre-conference buffet and chatting I headed up to the F-ALT event on post digital and managed to catch the last bit and added a little to the discussion.


These fringe events add a lot to the conference, they’re not competing with the conference, but adding a social, informal side to the conference that allows delegates to add a social learning element to the conference. It also allows delegates to discuss and present issues on stuff and technologies which at the time of the abstract submission deadline maybe wasn’t available or didn’t even exist.

Tuesday morning, saw a bright and early start with the conference kicking off proper at 9.00am. After the conference introductions we moved onto the conference keynote from Michael Wesch.

It took tens of thousands of years for writing to emerge after humans spoke their first words. It took thousands more before the printing press and a few hundred again before the telegraph. Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. A Flickr here, a Twitter there, and a new way of relating to others emerges. New types of conversation, argumentation, and collaboration are realized. Using examples from anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, YouTube, classrooms, and “the future,” this presentation will demonstrate the profound yet often unnoticed ways in which media “mediate” our conversations, classrooms, and institutions. We will then apply these insights to an exploration of the implications for how we may need to rethink how we teach, what we teach, and who we think we are teaching.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed his presentation and presentational approach, however I do wonder and still wonder if all our learners are like his students? Are all our learners using Facebook and other Web 2.0 tools and services on a regular basis and importantly are they using them for learning?

I don’t see a Google Generation or Digital Natives in the learners I work with. Some are using Facebook and other tools, many are not. Those that are, not all are using these tools for learning.

See what you think from the recording.

I enjoyed the short papers on staff skills, some of the work that Alan Cann is doing at Leicester is very illuminating and interesting.

Then lunch and I won’t dwell on the conference catering, all I will say how much I enjoyed the coffee from the Museum Cafe across the road from the conference venue.

After sustenance we had the big debate, you know, the one about how the VLE is Dead! The debate was a lot of fun and it would appear that the delegates who attended enjoyed the debate. In a room with space for eighty, we had nearly a hundred and fifty people, many sitting and standing. We also had about two hundred people online following the live stream.


Photo source

The debate was based on the following proposition.

The future success of e-learning depends on appropriate selection of tools and services. This symposium will propose that the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as an institutional tool is dead, no more, defunct, expired.

I know that most people realised that the debate (and especially the title) was provocative and that the aim was for a fun debate as well as looking at the issues. You are not going to be able to give serious academic consideration to the issues in an eighty minute debate.

I was pleased with the interest shown, not just at the conference, but also online on Twitter and on various blogs. Cloudworks has a list of the blogs that have discussed the issue. The “marketing” for the debate worked well (probably better than expected) with the trailer, the flyer and the numerous blog posts by me, Steve and many others…

As expected, I didn’t get to the next session, but did make Steve Wheeler’s Twitter session. A very popular session with lots of different people attending, some like me who are immersed in Twitter to people who had never used it.

After all that I missed the new ALT Members Reception, and as Gloucestershire College joined ALT this year I should have been attending. Ah well.

In the evening I went to a nice Tapas bar with Ron, Lilian and David.

More later…

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #021: Goldilocks, what’s that all about then?

May 10, 2009

So what do you understand by inclusion? Can we use learning technologies to improve inclusivity?

We discuss the ILT Champions Conference at Gloucestershire College, including the unconference format used and the learning spaces seen at the college. Do we need big names at conferences? Do we need keynotes? How do we make conferences financially viable?

We move onto planning. Do you plan your lessons a week, a month or a year in advance? Is planning a good thing or does it hinder creativity?

This is the twenty-first e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Goldilocks, what’s that all about then?

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Goldilocks, what’s that all about then?

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by Dave Foord, David Sugden and Nick Jeans.