E-Learn Vancouver, Day 1
I am dead tired from 16 hours of presentations and socializing (and I still have a paper to revise tonight!), but I wanted to post overall feelings and reactions from the first day of the conference – partly to share these feelings and partly so that I will myself remember them. If you haven’t been following #elearn on twitter, I recommend you do – it’s been quite lively.
At 8AM, the keynote speaker, Sir John Daniel of Commonwealth talked about the use of e-learning in open access universities and in the third world. Of particular interest was his discussion of the “iron triangle of access,” a feature of e-learning initiatives. Access, quality and cost are the three sides of the triangle, and traditionally, improving one by necessity meant cutting the other two. Modern e-learning technology, he argued, is providing ways around this – to improve quality and access while still lowering costs. I think this is the value of it in the training domain as well – traditionally, moving training onto videos or other distance technologies would result in lower quality. With modern web technologies, this is no longer the case.
Peter Serdyuko and Robyn Hill presented “Patterns of Participation in Online Asynchronous Discussion.” They identified several student segments and included a lot of interesting metrics for quantifying success in online asynchronous discussions. We’re using these discussions in two current studies at TNTLab, so I’m thinking these metrics might be worth looking into.
Paul Roberts presented “Treatment Plan Skills Development with Student Driven Interactive Powerpoint.” It was a simple examination of the success of a Powerpoint-based interactive lesson plan. The statistics were a little weak, but I think it showcased the ease with which one can create online training programs – spending thousands on a vendor-provided training program isn’t necessary with a little creativity.
Josef Froschauer presented “New Directions in Science Communication: A Virtual Research & Experience Landscape.” He discussed a new island in Second Life used for science communication – informing the public about science. It looked promising, but it wasn’t quite complete, and hadn’t seem much traffic yet. I am optimistic though. Check it out at itchy-feet.org.
I didn’t get to see Daniel, Harrap & Power present “Getting Into Position: Serious Gaming in Geomatics,” but @alexismac was quite enthusastic – I will have to take a look at the proceedings file, but it seemed that a lot of interesting, new technology was being used for classroom purposes, including augmented reality and geotagging.
Shoba Bandi-Rao presented “A Comparative Study of Synchronous Online and Face-to-Face Writing Tutorials,” which described a writing tutoring system built for NYU to get live writing assistance online. She presented evidence suggesting that students that might not seek writing assistance in-person might do so online. Sounds like a disposition-treatment interaction to me (one of TNTLab’s current projects!).
Henderson-Begg and colleagues presented “Using Mobile Phones to Increase Classroom Interaction.” It was a relatively straightforward quasi-experiment examining the use of text messaging to communicate between the instructor and a 200-person lecture hall. Text messages were used to ask questions to the instructor during lecture. She did not find an effect of the use of texts on performance, but I think she may have left something out of her analysis… I need to e-mail her at some point to follow up.
Finally, Eddie Gose presented “I Am a Gam3r, H3ar M3 Roar!” where he shattered the audience’s stereotypes about gamers while simultaneously offering them Hawaiian chocolates. And I was the only one to recognize a screenshot of Team Fortress II! His research study was qualitative, and though interesting, I don’t think contributes a whole lot to the scientific research literature – but the gaming research is itself quite young and incomplete. The more voices we have, the better. I will definitely keep an eye on how his research goes.
So that’s it – my snapshot of Day 1. Day 2’s schedule is actually even fuller! How exciting!
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