The coffee is still usually better…

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.

Train delays, expensive hotels and piles of notes are a thing of the past for delegates joining JISC’s latest e-learning conference – because the whole programme takes place online.

Researchers, practitioners and managers with an interest in technology for learning are being encouraged to sign up now for the fourth online conference ‘Innovating E-Learning’ on 24 – 27 November 2009.

Delegates can interact in real-time sessions, watch presenters on video, meet other delegates in the virtual coffee shop, and comment on the conference using Twitter.

Conference organiser Sarah Knight said: “Innovating E-Learning gives people a chance to take a step back from their everyday work and look at technology from a different and innovative angle.

“Perhaps most importantly, JISC wants to provide a space for researchers and teachers to discuss the challenges facing their institutions with the keynote speakers and delegates from all over the world.”

Keynote speakers include Helen Beetham, the author and researcher who has played a leading role in the JISC e-learning programme, Dr Rhona Sharpe, principal lecturer at the Oxford centre for staff  and learning development at Oxford Brookes University, and Peter Bradwell, researcher at the think tank Demos.

They will explore topics ranging from the basic principles of using technology in education, to helping overseas learners and meeting the needs of employers.

Sarah added: “By sharing ideas and good practice universities and colleges can make sure that they stay up-to-date on new developments.”

Four years from its inception, the online conference continues to receive positive feedback.

One delegate at last year’s event commented: “For me, it is the most wonderful experience to be able to sit back and listen to so many knowledgeable people chatting away in such an accessible way about things I care about. I normally follow a number of mailing lists, blogs and social spaces, but being here is like having all that up-to-date information condensed and available at my fingertips.”

To register and find out more, visit the conference website.

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.

No more do you have to stand on platform 12 at Bristol Temple Meads wondering if the delayed 18.19 is in fact ever going to arrive before you freeze to death.

The coffee is usually better.

The coffee is usually better...

A few disadvantages as well…

No bag, so nothing to add to that huge collection at the back of the cupboard in the office…

No physical freebies, no mouse mats or mugs…

Finally the JISC have asked if I will be the conference blogger again, hmmm, do they realise what they have done….

Go, you’ll enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “The coffee is still usually better…”

  1. Enjoyed the conference last year so will be doing my best to attend again. Worked from home one day during last year’s, for my lunch break I treated myself to a stroll round my local park – having the freedom to dip in and out of sessions is a real plus. Also, I’m ashamed to admit that I often don’t enjoy conference ‘networking opportunities’, maybe I’m not very good at it, but it often seems to involve hanging around drinking too much coffee and feeling a bit lost. Of course sometimes you pick up some gems of info, but not always.

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