This is Day One of one of my favorite conferences, the Educause Learning Initiative Annual Conference…even though this is only my second one that I have physically attended. As usual, the tweeting using hashtag #ELI2011 has been superb, such that I have interacted with attendees in my sessions, other sessions, and those not physically here (and this is how I attended the last few years). I have to admit that it is nice actually being here, as it has given me an opportunity to catch up with some friends I have not seen in awhile.
One of the first tweets I saw was this one:
Only a half day today, but some good sessions. The opening general session featured Eric Mazur discussing his use of clickers to engage students in his physics classes at Harvard. He noted that when he first started teaching in the 1980s, he never questioned “how” to teach – he assumed that he would teach in the same manner in which he had been taught, using lecture. He came to see that lecture was good for DELIVERY of information, but that the assimilation of learning was left to students, and that was the hard part. He learned that data from the Force Concept Inventory showed that many physics students showed little gain in knowledge during introductory classes, and when he tested his own Harvard students, they matched national results. He then went to using clickers and peer teaching, which showed significant gains in learning and retention of knowledge. Mazur went on to note that the specific technology was not important – technologies come and go – but the use of peer teaching helped move the learning from shallow (what do I need to pass the test) to deeper learning (what does this concept mean).
For my second session, I listened to Amy Campbell, Samantha Earp, and Edward Gomes of Duke University as they discussed the process Duke had used to decide on a new LMS as their license with Blackboard expired (or as Edward noted…how to make someone on campus continually mad at you). Their 15 month process is documented at E-Learning Roadmap. Interesting, they narrowed their move from Blackboard 8 to one of three solutions – Blackboard 9, Moodle, or Sakai. They ultimately settled on Sakai, but less for functionality than for strategic reasons. As they saw it, Bb 9, Moodle and Sakai represented a three-sided coin…little real differences in functionality.
Finally, I checked out some of the poster sessions. Three caught my eye.
- John Fenn of University of Oregon discussed his use of student generated content and remixing of student work through blogs, Diigo feeds, and YouTube for collaborative learning.
- Jeff McClurken and Martha Burtis of University of Mary Washington discussed how they teamed faculty, an instructional technologist, and students to develop group digital history projects. It was also an opportunity to talk to Martha about the work she and Jim Groom are doing in their Digital Storytelling classes (check the twitter hashtag #ds106).
- Joseph Madaus discussed a University of Connecticutt project to apply Universal Design for Instruction to their online and blended classes. Joseph noted that many think of physical disabilities when exploring UDI, but in fact the larger audience is students with learning disabilities.
The last session of the day was the annual rollout of the NMC annual Horizon Report. For nine years, the New Media Consortium has tracked new and emerging technologies for teaching and learning. Near term technologies are already pretty evident – ebooks and mobiles (one only need look around this conference). Mid-term (2-5 years) will see more use of augmented reality and game-based learning. More far term will be the emergence of gesture-based computing and learning analytics.
Looking forward to a full day tomorrow.