Laura Loves Languages

A place for many opinions

e/merge 2008

What a week!!!

I began it at Carnegie Mellon University for a workshop sponsored by the Open Learning Initiative. I got to know their French Online course up close and in person. It was a fabulous f2f experience and  I am thrilled about the prospect of continuing to connect with my new colleagues there. It shows the longevity and proves the utter logic of OER that after all these years of OCW and OLI, we are building a network that aims at providing more access. Even more important to me as an individual practitioner, this work provides us a forum in which we can discuss what really constitutes quality in online teaching and learning. I really need to have these conversations. To have them with  language educators was real ‘icing on the cake”.

One interesting point that came up here regarding instructional design of online courses was the study on the expert blind spot. (Nathan and Petrosino 2003 . Preconceived notions on how concepts should be presented can cause a disconnect between teaching goals and learning outcomes.  five days later, I keep hearing the message “You do  not think like your students and they do not think like you”. When we build and teach our online courses, we need to keep this difference in thinking in mind.

The rest of this week, I have been participating in a superb online conference sponsored by the Centre for Educational Technology in Cape Town, South Africa: e/merge. From the website:

“e/merge 2008 – Professionalising Practices is the third virtual conference on educational technology in Africa and builds on the e/merge conferences in 2004 and 2006. e/merge 2008 will take place online from 7 – 18 July 2008.”

So far, I really enjoyed a presentation by Howard Rheingold, whose work I have followed since his book  The Virtual Community years back. He now has a very interesting course going on at UC Berkeley called Visual Communications/Social Media. His class as explained on his online syllabus is super participatory with subheadings like “Participation mandatory”, “Leadership required”. He has students interacting in ways that immerse them in collaborative tasks while using all the new tools,blogs, wikis, etc.. .  Anyway, he was a keynoter at e/merge and his talk was followed by a robust discussion by educators around the world.

This virtual conference is employing every kind of new technology to connect participants. As much as I love to visit  places physically, it is wonderful to be able to experience so much collective  expertise without leaving home. This is particularly true since air travel has recently become so difficult, grueling and painfully inconvenient. (Hear my anguish??) I see no reason why we can and should not greatly augment the online component of all major conferences, partly as an access/inclusion issue for people who cannot attend f2f , as well as  for many other very good reasons.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | e-learning, Languages | , , , | Leave a comment