Making a difference

As ICL comes to a close and another international e-learning conference fades into memory, one has to stop and reflect... did this conference make any difference? The answer is probably both yes .... and no. At an individual level, I have spoken to many delegates here who feel that the conference has been worthwhile, whether it is because they have been to sessions that have challenged or enlightened them, or on the other hand, perhaps they have met someone who has inspired them, or with whom they can share ideas, or collaborate with in the future. At a more general level though, it may be true that this conference has failed to do what so many of it's precursors have also failed to do. And that is to change anything of any significance. (Pictured: panel members during the final plenary discussion).

Many of the papers were advocating change, and many of the presenters admitted honestly that they didn't have a clue about how that change was going to come about. In coversations today over lunch we debated the issues and challenges facing education in this decade, and came to the pessimistic conclusion that change only happens slowly, and only when the 'powers that be' decide that change is necessary. The few lone rangers and (to use Christian Logofatu's term for me) 'lunatics', will forge on regardless, stretching the gap between their own understanding and that of their more transigent colleagues, so that pockets of innovation stand out as the exception rather than the norm.

Much coverage has been given to Web 2.0 social software tools and also Web 3.0 semantic tools, but how many of us are actaully using them day in, day out. Not many. And probably not enough. Until such time that universities and other institutions (and the governments that control them through funding and inspection) wake up to the fact that the youth we are educating view our tired systems with a jaundiced eye and then go off and 'do their own thing', there will be no significant change. Even then it may be slow in coming due to the vast amounts of money, energy and time they have invested into systems that are already 5 years out of date (and here I am being kind).

I have tried to report as honestly and fully as I can from ICL 2008, but inevitably I have missed things as even with my super-human powers and x-ray vision, I can only be in one place at a time. You can go to our Twemes conference site to view some of the images of the event, and some of the blog and tweet artefacts generated over the three days, and you can also access the official ICL 2008 conference site to view the titles and abstracts of the papers. But ultimately, it was for me, just another conference where we got together with like minded people, discussed hot and happening issues, and were inspired by each other to go back and do more of the same. It won't change anything, but it does give us just a little more energy to fight against the system and try to make some small changes where they are needed.

I would personally like to thank Michael Auer and his team from Fachhochschule Karnten for once again putting on a well organised and enjoyable event, including good scheduling, technical management and excellent food. I wish them every success for next year's event, here in the beautiful alpine town of Villach, Austria.

Comments

Steven Egan said…
I'm expecting things like the Education Grid to make the difference. Shown the tools, proof they work and how to use them, the stage is set for change to really occur. Right now we are trying to get to that point.
Marjan said…
Right point, Steve! Unfortunately I haven't attended many of ICL sessions, but several works have inspired me. Of course, I have to mention your greatworkshop - not just the directly subject-related things, but the spirit you've shown. Guess you teach that way...
cosmico said…
Dear Steve, you're quite right to say all that about "Yes and Not. I also attended several talks at ICL 08 and was pleased to meet you (unfortunately enough, not your workshop, sigh!).
Regarding social networking and Web 3.0, Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for media and communications, said that official guidelines and practice are to be set up. We'll see what comes out, but user's contributions and opinions could orientate debate too, perhaps.

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