Friday, May 22, 2009

EdTech 2009

EdTech 2009 - the 10th Annual Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) was held this year at the National College of Ireland, and I was the local organizer for the Conference. We had over 150 delegates and 50 presentations, plus 14 exhibitors - quiet a lot of planning and work had to go in to get this show going. While I co-ordinated much of the local activities there has been an ILTA committee working on this for the past year which I was part of. The College did a good job of hosting the Conference.

I attended many of the presentations. The first keynote address was from Niall Sclater from the Open University in the UK - I was particularly interested in his thoughts on "Does location matter?" where he shared some ideas about the traditional approach to learning and whether students actually need to be in a classroom. The other keynote address was from Richard Katz of EDUCAUSE who had some interesting comments about the future of education and made excellent use of a tower and clouds as metaphors for reaching for new goals. We also had some break-out sessions. I gave a presentation called "Lipstick on a Pig? Lecture notes as video podcasts on the iPhone" and I was delighted to have about 20 people attending. I was also impressed by some other sessions:
  • Markus Hofmann of Blanchardstown IT who spoke about compatability challenges for file types in use on the iPhone - really interesting for me
  • Michael Barrett of Sligo IT who spoke about managing module descriptors - something we all could do better in Colleges
  • Oliver Joyce, also of Sligo IT, spoke about using clickers in class and we all had a chance to use them as part of his presentation
  • Dr Aidan O'Dwyer of DIT talked about using on-line resources with mixed success for engineering students
  • Sean Connell of Athlone IT spoke about using Google Docs for teaching spreadsheets
  • Terry Smith of Pepperdine University in California gave a most interesting talk on project based learning and he entertained us with great video examples of his work
  • Imogen Bertin of NAIRTL showed us some interesting uses of video, though unfortunately sound was a problem
I missed loads of other sessions that I would have liked to have gone to - I seemed to be spending most of my time running round the place trying to appear calm.

One of the interesting features of the Conference was the use of Twitter - especially during the closing panel discussion. the tweets were even posted on the screen for all to see. I tried to get it going on my iPhone - I have a Twitter account, but have not used it before. Interesting use of technology at a technology conference.

I was relieved when it was all over - back to normal, and a lazy weekend coming up!


  1. Hi Eugene - truly an enjoyable conference. I feel I connected intellectually on many topics, made many friends, had a LOT of fun, and hope to maintain contact for future innovations in education worldwide. I'm the naive believer that we can get around politics and reclaim education space and provide a new variety of experiences for students of all ages. The twittering was valuable for all of the comments and sharing of opinions and information during the speaking. I think it is definitely an acquired skill that at first seems odd, but when one becomes comfortable with it, conversations are expanded in impact.

    In addition, I connected with new colleagues/friends in the process: Kevin O'Rourke, Heather James, Gavin Henrick, Sharon Flynn, Bernie Goldbach, and Iain MacLaren among others.

  2. Great conference, Eugene. I also twittered/tweeted? for the first time. I have mixed feelings about tweeting during presentations. It has the advantage of allowing people who are not physically present to participate. But should a small group who are present tweet each other during presentations? Maybe more questions and discussions would be fairer on the speaker and allow non-tweeters to participate.

    I also enjoyed Susan Sweeney's presentation on using colour to teach music - including her performance on the violin :-)

    A lot of talk about second life but no presentations.

    Well done to team in NCI

    Must update my own blog now.