Friday, 9 January 2009

Durham 2009, Day Two

A photograph I took myself. Late at night. Inebriated...Click here for Durham 2009: Day One

No doubt some sore heads in the first presentation this morning after a three-course meal in Durham Castle, with lots of wine, followed by a trip to the nearby Undercroft bar... Still as this presentation was the usual Roadmap spiel from Blackboard it barely mattered. We still don't have a definite date for the release of Version 9 and while I'm sure the information they gave about Project NG was useful for some, I'm also sure I wasn't the only one who'd heard all this before.

They did mention that Blackboard was being re-branded and that three themes would be evident in upcoming versions: Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Transact and Blackboard Connect.

Following that, a forward-thinking talk from Sophie Paluch (College of Law), Kate Reader (Bristol) and Zak Mensah (TASI - soon changing it's name to JISC Digital Media) about mobile technologies in Higher Education. One thing I took away from this presentation was how much mobile technology has moved since it first came about - and how quicky. Sophie showed an advert on YouTube, and while I haven't been able to find the same one, this clip should give you an idea of the kind of progress that's been made.

Later I saw a presentation from Ralph Holland (Tyneside) and Merv Stapleton (City of Sunderland) on their comparison of e-portfolio tools and their usage in different (and sometimes novel) situations. One example Ralph gave of marines trying to maintain e-portfolios out at sea but being unable to due to lack of proper Internet access was particularly vivid. I would have liked to have seen more examples here but I spoke to Merv after the presentation and we're going to keep in touch and share experiences.

Lastly, we were treated to an inspiring final keynote from Paul Lowe; a very energetic speaker who runs an MA Photojournalism and Documentary course at the London College of Communication and has his own blog here. He talked about the course he runs, which recruits mid-career professionals and requires them to keep their own blogs for purposes of reflection. The talk itself was very inspiring and, as you'll probably notice from the slideshow I've embedded here, very visual - but the main thing I took away from it was that it didn't matter so much which tool his students practitioners were using but that how they used the tools to interact with one another that counted more.

Paul uses Blackboard but he barely mentioned it in his talk. And people on the course were allowed to use whatever blogging application they preferred. It seemed more important that they were paired up or put in groups so as to support each other during the reflective process (especially given that they were subject to a lot of criticism). Feedback was the crucial element here, I think.

Together with Andy's presentation the previous day, I came away determined to make more of an effort with my blog!

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