Technology-Enhanced Learning Conference 2015

A conference highlight/Hannah Talbot © 2015

A conference highlight/Hannah Talbot © 2015/cc by-nc-2.0

Today’s beautifully organised Technology Enhanced Learning Conference set a benchmark for future technology enhanced conferences. The event, organised by Fiona Harvey and the team at the Institute for Learning Innovation and Development (ILIaD) employed many established and emerging digital tools, all of which worked well – demonstrating the strong role innovation plays in supporting teaching and learning, as well as providing unambiguous signifiers of the conference theme.

The media was very much the message: the highly effective Whova event app, the excellent livestream of the event, the very useful collaborative Google doc and the lively Twitter commentary that accompanied the presentations and debates made this the most engaging conference I’ve attended, at any institution.

Twitter word cloud - midday.

Twitter word cloud – midday.

Twitter word clouds (derived from Tweet Archivist) give a flavour of how the conference progressed. By lunchtime, presentations on developing digital literate and responsible learners and the effective use of online archives gave rise to considerations of how our response to changes in technology affects our approach to teaching and learning. After lunch the focus shifted to a strongly argued debate on the ‘revolution’ in learning brought about by Learning Management Systems in general and Blackboard in particular.

Twitter word cloud - 4pm

Twitter word cloud – 4pm

A perennial bug-bear in some circles, Blackboard was presented as a clear indicator of the radical change in learning that has occurred over the past 20 years by the pro camp, and a poorly designed irrelevance by those arguing against it’s use. I’m not getting into the debate here (you can watch it yourself), only to say that I take the middle ground – a robust (if dull) ‘home’ for learning is very useful, but it doesn’t stop you using anything else (either on or off line) that works for you.

Later in the afternoon I attended inspiring talks on using instructional videos provided by Lynda.com to support programmes of learning, DIY video production for learning and an excellent presentation by Rachel Jones on tools for digital pedagogy (nice to see SOLO taxonomy getting a mention).

This event, the first of its kind for ILIaD, is likely to be the catalyst for many new engagements with TEL, and bodes well for conferences to come.