Back to the Future

I really enjoyed ALT-C, it’s a great conference, so much to hear and learn. However it has one “flaw” and it’s not really a flaw, more a design feature.

ALT-C is in September and the submission process occurs nine months earlier. So the content of the conference is mainly about work undertaken in the one or two years before that! As a result the majority of the presentations and papers at ALT-C is on work and activity that is eighteen months old! However this is not a problem, this is an academic conference and the point of the conference is to look back, learn from the past and build for the future. However this is not a conference to go to if you are interested in what the future will bring… in other words the stuff you would hear about at ALT-C 2012 or 2013. Many learning technology conferences I attend have a similar model, MoLeNET this week for example was about MoLeNET projects that were designed in November 2009, this was before the iPad and the iPhone 4G were even announced.

So what of the future?

It is true many of these conferences do have sessions on the future, but today in London I am presenting at FOTE10. The Future of Technology in Education 2010 Conference is about the future. Though one person did think it was more the “here and now” conference. Cycnicism aside, ULCC says…

…the FOTE conference is back for 2010 and, as with previous events, is dedicated to showcasing the hottest technology related trends and challenges impacting the academic sector over the next 1-3 years.

This is why this conference is different. This is now about where we have been, or even where we are, this is about where we are going.

It is very TED like in format and structure and I think the conference benefits from that. Short intense presentations (and a few panel sessions) to get people thinking. Even though many may think the lecture is dead, in this case I see FOTE having a term I will steal from Dave White, eventedness. In other words the event is not just about the presentation, it is also about the community that attends and engages with the conference.

There will be (I am assuming) quite a lively back-channel and the coffee breaks are a hub of conversation and discussion.

Many of the key players, personalities (and even celebrities) from the world of learning technologies in the UK will be there.

It is all these features that make this conference such an exciting event. The free tickets this year “sold out” as fast as the previous two.

Of course there is one question.

Who decides whom should present and on what subjects?

That is a question that I can’t answer, but obviously it can’t be easy. There are many new technologies, themes and trends. How would you choose what should be at the conference?

Fote 09 AudienceI was humbled last year to talk at FOTE09, I talked about the future of learning. I was even more humbled when I was asked to come back and talk at FOTE10. My presentation this year is entitled, “The iPad is the future of reading”. I have already written a couple of blog articles on the FOTE blog, one on how books are wonderful things and how the Kindle is a wonderful thing, but despite this, the iPad is still the future of reading.

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