Pole position

It’s the first day of the Polish Virtual Universities conference here in Warsaw and I must admit I’m feeling a little lost. I opened the conference with the first keynote of this three day event, and then it was all downhill from there in. The audience was disturbingly quiet, but I’m told that this is the way they listen to speakers. They applauded heartily at the end of my speech, but no-one dared to ask a question. It’s a different culture, a different reaction, so get over it Steve.

There are 140 delegates registered for the conference and 136 of them are Polish. So naturally the entire conference is also in Polish, and I don’t understand a word of it of course. At other conferences there is usually an interpreter, but I am the only Brit here, so I shouldn’t expect anything else should I? OK, there are also a couple of other keynote speakers from France (Ronan Chabauty) and Spain (Albert Sangra) and they will also present in English, but apart from that, nada. There are over 70 papers and posters due to be presented here, and also 8 keynotes. I have managed to decipher some of the paper headings, which include podcasting, blended learning, e-portfolios, wikis, 3-D storytelling, Second Life, and several others have Web 2.0 in their title.

Oh how I wish I could hear them, or at least be able to read them in English.


Tadeusz said…
Hello, Steve, I'd like to thank you for your post. Although I don't attend the conference "Open universities, open resources, open access", also I couldn't have dared to ask you a question there. I prefer to examine your paper "All Changing: The Social Web and the Future of Higher Education (a tale of two keynotes)" sitting comfortably by my home computer and after that I'll probably both ask questions and comment on some of your thoughts. Incidentally, have you already published in OPEN Internet any fragment of your paper?

With kind regards,
Steve Wheeler said…
Hi Tadeusz - thanks for your comments. The entire contents of the presentation including the PowerPoint presentation will be posted onto the Polish Virtual Universities conference website and also released as a chapter in a book, forthcoming.

kg said…
Many thanks for the great speech! You said and showed how the educators should think about and understand learning process. This perspective seems to be big shift in polish education system, becuse at shools we are still taught "just in case". In HE situation doesn't look better but students are more conscious and self-directed, so they can choose what they want to learn "just in time" and "just for me"- but this is still apart from education system. Most institutions provide e-learning coures, which are closed, measerable and behavioral. Academic word do not appreciate importance of informal education and masure the quality of learning only via curriculum.
It a pity that iscussion about all this staff didn't work. The need of shift should be first seen, then discussed and finnaly understand correctly. Polish education system should start from the first step. Thank once again for "opening the sift window" :)

Best regards,

Steve Wheeler said…
Hi Karolina. Thanks for your kind words and insightful response to my keynote speech. I am not completely familiar with the Polish education system, but I am aware that there are problems, similar to several Eastern European countries (and also some Western European ones!), and that a shift in emphasis is needed to personalised learning. We are in a battel and it will take many visionaries to fight for the changes. Pleased you enjoyed my speech and I hope we will meet again sometime.

Best wishes from a 'comrade in arms'

Steve said…
There is something important--and sad--in the story of the "virtual university" trying to get told in the setting of the ancient technology of the "conference": the great lecture hall, the hundreds of chairs neatly arranged in rows, the silent listeners, the speaker--a talking head--addressing a few hundred people.

In all the universities of the world the same clash of technologies, with the "visionaries" trying to find a way to make room for the computer and Constructionism while the old technologies of classrooms and curriculum and the rest continue as before.

Steve Eskow

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