Two Conferences

I am currently attending the @ONE 2007 Online Teaching Conference, being partly webcast from Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. I was quite reassured to hear David Balch’s presentation “A View from the Trenches“, especially when he talked about his answer to faculty concerns about student identity (“how do I know the online student is the person enrolled in the course?”). His answer was the same as mine: unless we check ID, we also don’t know whether the student who walks into our class is the same one on our rosters. Other heartening elements included the new focus on interactivity and recent surveys that show that faculty resistance to online instruction is fading.

The Future of Education 2007 conference (University of Manitoba) just ended (I am still catching up on the recordings). I was fascinated by Dave Cormier‘s presentation and the reaction to it. He presented on “Snowclones, Clichés and Memes”. . . sort of. There were presentation difficulties, since the technology he was using went down during the presentation, which focused on using online community to create learning, with the attendees acting as the students. A lot of attendees were trying to understand the topic itself, which related to the use of language. Cormier used a Pageflakes site, and showed the potential of such a feed aggregator for creating online learning communities.

Also wonderful was Brian Lamb‘s “DIY: Educators Gone Wild” presentation on mashups, Open, Connected, and Social, which made me feel better about mixing up all that pure educational content.

What I always find wonderful about these conferences, in addition to the friendly and helpful colleagues, is the chance to see what pieces of technology are being used by people who actually know what they’re doing! The Future of Education conference was so professional: synchronous and recorded sessions with Elluminate, Camtasia recordings, Moodle website with discussion forums, Pageflakes site, and podcasts so I can listen now that it’s over. And thanks to the presenters and organizers, I’ll look more carefully at Pageflakes (aggregator), SurveyMonkey (for surveys), Drupal (another CMS) and MediaWiki .

I also learn what I don’t like: at the @ONE conference, they used CCCConfer, which has the bother of audio over the telephone instead of through the computer speakers (I have a dial phone and thus a crick in my neck from today’s presentation). In Firefox, I had trouble getting the webcast to work even though I had the plug-in (WindowsMedia, naturally) installed. I had to reinstall it and use Safari instead to see the video, which was of excellent quality. The people at CVC are fabulous, though, and I was delighted to see people I knew, like Andrea Henne of SDCCD, and meet new folks just starting out in teaching online. One excellent presentation by Patricia Delich focused on tips for developing ones first online class. Good resources she provided included an assessment of technology skills for instructors, 10 activities before starting development [pdf], and a good online course rubric for both design and evaluation purposes.

I confess, however, I am suffering from Web 2.0 conference burn-out. Which is too bad, since I’m off to ED-Media in two weeks!