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A great opening to the first day with a keynote from Michael Wesch, full of ideas and challenges. He began with the idea of media being more than a tool but something that can actually mediate our relationships (making me wonder if therefore we choose our media with sufficient care). His history of insignificance looked at the possible increasing loss of the sense of self and how this might be manifesting itself through the quest to be broadcast. Wesch suggested an interesting alternative to the term group, using ‘flock’ to better describe the coming together of numbers of people at points when they were traveling in the same direction, followed by their dispersal when their directions diverged. We were directed to the videos ‘A Vision of Students Today’ and ‘An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube’ for further information.

Aaron Porter had several good ideas about how we might use technology to enhance the student experience. He asked if any university of offering students a tracking system for their work (rather like on online order or helpdesk problem), whereby they might see when feedback is offered and those offering it could see that it has been accessed. When students give us feedback are we seen to be responding to it? Since students are known to use social networking tools might  same be used to help students feel part of the academic community? I like the idea of easing the inevitable tensions of approaching group work by allowing students to draw up their own rules of engagement.

Richard Noss talked about several interesting TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) projects including Ensemble (concerned with semantic technologies); InterLife (using virtual worlds to help with transition skills) and Learning Design Support (to help teachers exploit the potential of TEL).

The Semantic Technologies in Education session had us all thinking, not least about what were the problems it could actually solve or was it simply ‘a good idea’ and when realised we would find out what it could do.

The OER Matters session speculated a lot of possible opinions about OER that I have already met through the course of my work. The question ‘Are free resources really free?’ is an important one along with the worry that the apparent economic driver may become the main focus. Though we may all agree that ‘Open Education’ and ‘Educational Resources’ are good ideas, are we really positive about OER and it’s implications?

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