Muy Caliente

The weather this week may have been cooler than I have experienced during my previous visits to Spain (usually I'm there in the summer when the sun is a raging demon in a brazen sky) but the company was 'hot and cooking'. It was a priviledge to rub shoulders with some extremely smart and knowledgeable people drawn from diverse backgrounds. The Open University of Catalonia staff (Eva de Lera and Albert Sangra in particular should be singled out) pulled off an amazing logisitical feat to bring almost 40 people together in one place for the Open EdTech Summit this week. We met up at the well appointed Hotel Catedral, deep in the atmospheric gothic quarter of Barcelona, and attendance was by invitation. The attendance/contributor list reads like a 'who's who' of innovators and champions of open learning.

Although we spent less than 48 hours together, the experience was intense, and the outcomes will no doubt be far reaching. Our task was to divide into four groups of around 8 members, and each tackle a set of issues which would ultimately produce 5 good ideas, and another 5 'interesting' (read crazy) ideas which would inform the future of open learning, open technology and open content.

Memorable moments for me included working alongside people like Paul Kirschner (Open University of the Netherlands) Paul West (Commonwealth of Learning, Canada) and Debby Knotts (University of New Mexico) as we grappled with innovative ideas and argued over concepts and theories of e-learning. I bumped into Brian Lamb for the first time and we shared a rant on Edupunk over a few jars. There was also an informal on the hoof chat with Neil Selwyn (Insititute of Education) as we passed through the old roman walled area of Barcelona under a full moon. I enjoyed intelligent and sometimes hilarious conversations with the likes of Sugata Mitra (University of Newcastle), Mark Bullen (University of British Columbia, Canada) and Vijay Kumar (MIT) - who gave everyone of us a free copy of his Opening Up Education book. Ishmael Pena and Tom Caswell were new contacts who I am certain I will continue to maintain contact with, even if it's only on Twitter.

I will leave the summarising of the event to Ismael Pena (Open University of Catalonia) as he is far more eloquent (and probably more concise) than me. His summary can be found on his ICTlogy blog. Oh, and of course, there is now a Twemes site which holds a growing set of images captured during those 48 hours, and other artefacts of the event for all to enjoy. If there is another event planned for next year, I aim to be there, believe me.


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