Diamonds in the mud

They saved the best 'til last... The papers on the final day really cut the mustard for me. I chaired a session entitled 'pedagogical and psychological issues' (on my own request to the conference organisers) and I wasn't disappointed. An all female crew of 4 presenters took us through a fast-paced spectrum of ideas and research around e-learning. Maja Snyder (University of Maribor, Slovenia) evaluated several e-learning courses from a student perspective. Next up was Erika Pigliapoco (University of Urbino, Italy) who discussed the 'psychological sense of community' needed for all distance courses to succeed. Hot on her heels was Hiba Mustafa (University of Massey, New Zealand) who regaled us with a content superb offering entitled: 'Computer-based Meta Cognitive Training' in which she outlined a new web based tool for supporting problem solving for post-graduate students in medicine, vetrinary services, etc. Finally, in this truly global community of presenters, came Marissa Wettasinghe (National Institute of Education, Singapore) who presented a paper on how ICT has been used to support slow learners. And......I pronounced all their names perfectly.

The highlight of the day was found in two papers that shone out like diamonds in the mud in an afternoon of mediocrity. Lief Martin Hokstad (whom I had previously session-chaired in EDEN, Naples - the guy's a Steely Dan fan!) and his colleague Carl Fredrik Dons from the University of Trondheim, Norway, presented a paper about digital literacies which challenged and illuminated. Why is it that all Norwegians need three names? I don't know, but in conversation afterwards, we agreed that our research interests were so similar we probably need to do some work together...

Finally, last session of the conference....Mark Kramer (Pictured: University of Saltzberg, Austria) didn't disappoint us with a rip-roaring presentation full of hand-held technologies. His talk, entitled 'Learning in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing' was refreshing, providing the audience with new ideas to go away with. He took a picture of the audience and uploaded it to Flickr in under 10 seconds during the presentation just to prove a point. I'm the guy waving at the back...

Well, we were waving goodbye to each other soon afterwards, as we each made out weary way home. I have made some good new friends, and hope to work with some of them in the future. As for Villach and Ljubljana - these stunning cities with their breath-taking vistas of Alpine scenery will not go forgotten.


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