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Delegate numbers reach an all-time high at Innovating e-Learning 2010.

Sarah Knight
Last modified 29 Nov, 2010
Published 29 Nov, 2010
Proving once again the value of online conferencing, the fifth JISC Online Conference has attracted its highest ever numbers – 475 delegates from 11 countries.

The conference , which runs between 23rd and the 26th November, focuses on the opportunities to be found in technology-based innovation to overcome the challenges posed by adverse times. Offering a high-quality programme, the conference provides a vital chance to engage with leading thinkers and other colleagues without increasing pressure on time, cost and carbon footprint.

Theme 1 on a theme of Releasing the Potential opened on Tuesday 23rd November with a keynote from Professor Keri Facer, Manchester Metropolitan University. As institutions, practitioners and learners ponder what the future holds for them, Keri Facer questioned what educational institutions are for. Will the unique value of face to face learning continue to be experienced in 2025? Or will the growth in social media and cost/benefit efficiencies of distance learning alter forever the experience of post-school education?

Dismissing pessimism as a luxury in good times and a death sentence in difficult ones, she focused attention instead on more agile curriculum design and increasing awareness of the social and ethical contract between students and institutions.

The mood among delegates was correspondingly upbeat, most choosing transition and transformation over breakdown as most likely to occur in the next 15 years. ‘Though there has been some change, most of it has been superficial. The core processes we use in education have not changed enormously in that 15 year period,’ observed James Clay, the conference blogger. Another delegate agreed that what the future holds in fact lies in our own hands: ‘We can seem very powerless in the face of these larger global changes... The only solution that I can offer is to not focus on transforming education, or the institution, or national policy. Just transform what I do.’

Other sessions in Theme 1 featured Professor David Boud presenting from Sydney, Australia, on transforming assessment for a digital age, Professor Graham Galbraith, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Jon Alltree, Director of Learning and Teaching, University of Hertfordshire on developing a culture of blended learning innovation and Usman Ali and Aaron Porter (NUS) on what students really want.

All sessions take place this year in the collaborative web conferencing software, Elluminate but are followed by asynchronous discussions within the conference platform. The new combination has been well-received: “I think the format this year is working extremely well, with lots going on yesterday and then a day of reflection and a chance to go back over some of the presentations and discussions.” Tony Bartley, Lowestoft College

As well as the main conference, there have been activities during the pre-conference week for example showcasing various JISC projects in the Have-a-Go Area and tours of virtual world educational locations.

Theme 2 Realising the Value featured a keynote by Anne Miller, a leading thinker on innovation and creativity, plus sessions on mobile learning, sustaining innovation in open educational resources and curriculum delivery. The conference closed with a keynote given by Elliott Masie, head of the Masie Center think tank in the USA.

Good value for money? I should say so!


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