06 December 2010

Random comment on ASCILITE 2010

Am participating in the 2010 ASCILITE conference in Brighton-le-Sands this week.  The presentations started today and will continue on through until Wednesday afternoon. Picking sessions is always tricky; the grass is always greener in the breakout room next door. “Which paper?” “Which session?” - these are the perennial questions for conference participants.
I haven’t yet found the pulse of the conference, but maybe that will come tomorrow. There's an old saying that if you take one good idea away from these kinds of conferences, you've spent the money well.  I haven't heard it yet, so am looking forward to the next two days.

ASCILITE has always had a large number of papers about what and how, and fewer papers asking why, but I’m hoping that at least the keynote speakers will give me something of substance to chew over. So far, all the speakers I’ve heard (including the plenary speaker this morning) have presented papers about examples of interesting practice and demonstrations of a range of well-designed teaching and learning activities. I haven’t heard any great new ideas or encountered any particularly innovative ideas yet, but it’s always good to sit in the room when people share their practice (or even other people's practice).
This morning, Shirley Alexander posed a question about research by the tribe. She wondered if we are tackling the difficult questions, or taking the easy route. What are the “big hairy audacious” research questions? Are those the things we are investigating? (If you have to ask the question ...)

The symposium this afternoon on teachers, technology and design was interesting.
Lots of encouragement from the organizers to use gadgets, someone lending conference participants iPads for three days, special websites set up to make it easy for conference participants to plan which sessions they want to attend and to remember to go ... but the special temporary network broke before morning tea.
Tomorrow brings us the international plenary speakers - the recently retired Tom Reeves from the University of Georgia and Lev Gonick from Case Western Reserve University. There are some papers on big issues in the morning - strategic leadership capacity building for ICT and systemic change through professional development. In the afternoon, there is a session on virtual worlds. I haven't made up my mind about them yet, so am intrigued by the title of the first paper - "Australian higher education institutions transforming the future of teaching and learning through virtual worlds". It's a big call!

Oh, and I’m on after lunch.

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