The keynote on the final day of the conference was delivered by Mark Milliron, Chancellor of Western Governors University. This was a clear case of ‘save the best for last’ and was a lively presentation on building out the new generation of learning. Although the presentation included little that was new it was put together in a clear and compelling package around ’emerging insights’: tune the blend, mobility matters, get serious about play/simulation, move from social to learning networks, and leverage high engagement technologies. The presentation was laced with interesting stories and pithy advice such as ‘tune the blend to make the human moment precious’ – that is, use technology to take the base load so that human engagement is used to maximum advantage. It was engaging enough that we opted to stay for the second hour of conversation, much of which focused on the mode of operation of Western Governors University as an online university focusing on competencies and using curriculum content which is curated from other sources rather than built to order.
In subsequent sessions I attended presentations on social media and Web 2.0 applications in education, learning theories related to Twitter, building video content using Flash, teacher networks, and a technology integration course for preservice teachers. The most interesting of these was the presentation by Tom Carroll and colleagues about Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC) 2.0 which pointed to some potential around development of professional learning communities and/or personal learning networks for teachers as a path to addressing issues of retention.
The connection by SITE to SXSWEdu provided access to the SXSW Startup Crawl as edutainment for the early evening. A small group of us visited a series of sites around downtown Austin to enjoy hospitality and exposure to software startups. Although few, if any, of them had direct relevance to education the experience did provide some interesting insights into the culture of software development, the playful workplace culture that characterises such enterprises, and the potential for creative approaches to software in activities including education.
As usual, SITE has provided a mix of interesting papers from colleagues working at the edge of new developments and opportunities to catch up in informal settings. The challenge will be to find ways to implement some of that in our own context once I return to campus.