Tag Archives: online conference

Virtually

Conference

Virtually every conference you attend will have keynotes and presentations. One of the strengths of any conference is the level of debate and discussion that takes place, however symposiums aside, most of the discussion at a physical conference, aside from the few minutes for questions, takes place between small groups over lunch or coffee. There is little time for reflection and of course these chats over coffee are never recorded or noted down, making it difficult to refer back to them when back in the office. Also though they are happening across the conference, there is very little or no interaction between the different conversations; so people are not learning from each other or building on the discussions of others.

With an online conference however you will find much more discussion and debate takes place than at a traditional conference. Not only that, the conversations happen over time, allowing for reflection and checking sources. It’s also all written down. This makes it very easy to check back and see what someone said before making a different point. Sharing links and ideas is also so much easier too.

For me this is the real value and one of the key advantages of an online conference. It’s one of the reasons I look forward to and enjoy the JISC e-Learning Online Conference.

Due to the textual and asynchronous nature of the discussion it is possible to engage in the conversation either immediately or after a period of reflection over the days of the discussion.

It’s a real opportunity to take the time to debate the issues that arise out of the presentation with fellow practitioners and experts. You can challenge the experts as well as yourself and other practitioners. In many ways it can be easier to engage with the presenters than it would be at a physical conference.

You know the conference where the chair asks, “are there any questions?” and it can be intimidating to put your hand up. Even if you do, there are usually others and there is very little time for lots of questions. Keynotes can be even more intimidating especially with six hundred odd delegates in the auditorium.

It’s not that an online environment is not as challenging, more the online environment evens the playing field for delegates and presenters. It is, according to people I have spoken to, much easier to ask questions in an online conference than at a physical conference.

Also sometimes you don’t want to ask questions of the presenter, but ask questions to the delegates. This is virtually impossible to do at a traditional conference, but is very easy to do in an online conference.

Another advantage of the online conference is that if you do have a question for the presenter, however you want to check something first, you can. Before you ask your question, you can go back and read that paper you referenced last year, check with a colleague via e-mail that the evidence for the study is online, etc… try doing that in the “few minutes for questions” you get at a physical conference.

So if you haven’t already can I suggest you sign up to the JISC e-Learning Online Conference 2012: Shaping the Future. If you have never attended an online conference before, now is an ideal opportunity (and great value at £50). If you have attended a JISC e-Learning Online Conference before, but didn’t engage, maybe time to give it another try.

Still, the coffee is usually better

Still, the coffee is usually better

It’s that time of year again, yes the JISC e-learning team are running their online conference again, and once more I will be blogging at the JISC Innovating e-Learning online conference, Shaping the Future.

So what is it about an online conference?

Well it has all the features you find when you attend a physical conference, but it is all done online. With the JISC Online Conference, you get live presentations (through Collaborate), an online platform for asynchronous disucssions and sharing (through Moodle). There is the innovative thinking space (again) and an opportunity to try out new tools and techniques.

For me the main reason for attending an online conference, as well as the excellent presentations, is the engagement between the delegates. Most physical conferences I have attended have in the main been passive affairs, I sit, I listen, I think, digest and reflect. Discussion and debate does happen at these conferences, but usually informally over coffee. At the online conference the debate and discussion takes place using a textual asyncrhonous discussion forum over the days of the conference. As a result it allows for reflection, it enables delegates to refer and check other papers and sources, and for all delegates to read that discussion and if they want to, add their own comment.

Other reasons why I like online conferences, is that I can attend the conference even when doing other things. I can still attend meetings, see people in my office, teach, even go to other places. At the last few online conferences I have had to go to London during the week of the conference, and have using 3G and coffee shop wifi hotspots continued to take part in the conference even though I am away from my desk.

Having said all that it is useful too to make time for the conference, shut the office door, work from home for a bit, wear headphones, move to a different office, work in the coffee spaces in the college or university.

You can see presentations again, you can ignore them and (virtually) walk out without feeling you may be offending someone as their talk doesn’t relate to you as you thought it did.

Unlike a physical conference, the JISC Innovating e-Learning 2012 Online Conference remains open for reading until well after the conference has finished to allow participants to catch up on what they missed. So unlike missing the train to a physical conference or falling ill, it is possible to still get a lot out of the online conference.

There are advantages to attending the conference, but reduced travel and accommodation costs, no travel time and no need to leave the office, are additional advantages that you really need to consider. The conference has always been outstanding value at just £50, but in these tough economic times, when even finding the funding for train fares to free events can be a challenge, there is something about paying just £50 for five days of presentations and discussions.

There are advantages to attending the conference, but reduced travel and accommodation costs, no travel time and no need to leave the office, are additional advantages that you really need to consider.

Combine that with the activity week, no need to miss too many meetings and you might need to start asking yourself why you’re not going?

Of course the real value of the online conference is the programme, one that will inspire and challenge you. It has variety and interest. In some future blog posts I will look at the programme in more detail. However I am looking forward to the opening keynote from Dr Sue Black.

Oh and the coffee? Well you and I both know that the coffee at conferences often leaves a lot to be desired, at least at an online conference you can attend while drinking a decent coffee in your local coffee shop, now that can’t be all bad?

So if it is proving difficult to attend all the conferences you want to, one you shouldn’t miss is the JISC Innovating e-Learning 2012 Online Conference, maybe you too can help shape the future. Register now.

Wherever you are…

Wherever you are…

Wherever you are you can participate in the Innovating e-Learning 2009 JISC Online Conference.

The JISC Online e-Learning Conference 2009 takes place between the 24 and 27th November.

A conference with a difference

Those of you who know me will know that I quite like online conferences and have participated in a fair few over the years. JISC are running another of their innovating e-learning conferences this November.

The JISC Online e-Learning Conference 2009 takes place between the 24 and 27th November.

Innovating e-Learning 2009 is just around the corner

Book now for the fourth JISC online conference ‘Thriving, not just surviving’ 24-27thNovember!

What are the challenges facing 21stcentury institutions? What opportunities does technology offer to help overcome those challenges? You can contribute to these debates in the company of leading thinkers, broadcasters and academics.

The 2009 programme features keynotes from:

Charles Leadbeater, (leading authority on innovation and strategy); Nigel Paine(writer, broadcaster, organisational learning specialist and former Head of People Development at the BBC); Rhona Sharpe(Oxford Brookes University) and Helen Beetham(JISC Learners’ Experiences of e-Learning theme); Peter Bradwell(Demos) on The Edgeless University.

Sessions include Brian Lamb(University of British Columbia) on opening up educational content, Graham Attwell, Martin Weller(The Open University), Rob Howe, (University of Northampton) debating the demise (or otherwise) of educational institutions, Becka Currantand colleagues (University of Bradford) on using new technologies to engage and retain students, Alan Staley (Birmingham City University) on acquiring workplace skills while on course, John Kirriemuirand Kathryn Trinder(Glasgow Caledonian University) on making the most of virtual worlds in teaching and learning, Mike Neary(University of Lincoln) onengaging key stakeholders in the design of physical learning spaces.

Looking for something else? You can also follow new work by JISC projects on transforming delivery of learning with mobile and web 2.0 technologies, and engaging employers and professional bodies in the design of the curriculum. James Clay(Gloucestershire College) returns as the conference blogger, guided tours of Second Life and opportunities for hands-on experience of innovative learning environments and resources in the Have-a-Go area complete a rich and innovative conference programme.

Innovating e-Learning 2009welcomes delegates from further and higher education in the UK and overseas. Proceedings take place in an asynchronous virtual environment so can be accessed wherever and whenever is convenient to you. Keynotes will be delivered live in Elluminate, a collaborative web conferencing platform (recordings will be available post-session).

Innovating e-Learning 2009 is a simply unmissable conference experience. Find out more and register now at www.jisc.ac.uk/elpconference09

Delegate fee: £50

There are a few advantages of online conferences over traditional face to face conferences, feel free to add to them in the comments.

With an online conference it is feasible to go to all the presentations and workshops even if they are at the *same time*.

If you are a reflective person, then like me the question you actually want to ask the presenter is thought of as you travel home on the train, with an online conference you have a chance to reflect and ask that question.

You can attend a meeting at the same time as attending the conference.

You can teach a lesson at the same time as attending the conference.

You can watch Doctor Who at the same time as attending the conference.

You can attend the conference at 2am, useful for insomniacs and those with small children.

Having said all that it is useful too to make time for the conference, shut the office door, work from home for a bit, wear headphones, move to a different office, work in the coffee spaces in the college.

You can see presentations again, you can pause them, you can ignore them and (virtually) walk out without feeling you may be offending someone as their talk doesn’t relate to you as you thought it did.

The coffee is usually better.

Advantages of an online conference

I was going through the media I had uploaded to my blog when I found this.

This was a video I made for last year’s JISC Online Conference when I was the official conference blogger. It outlines some of the advantages of online conferences.

The blog, Letters from the Edge was well received last time and the good news is that I am going to be blogging again at this years online conference.