Saturday, July 5, 2008

ICALT - Day One

I have been at the ICALT conference over the past couple days over the next few blog posts I will summarize some of the interesting talks I have been to. The conference is been held in Santander in Northern Spain, a beautiful Spanish port city.

During day one I went to a few very interesting talks:

Firstly was a keynote by Prof. John M. Carroll from Penn State University. Prof. Carroll discussed the use of case-studies in learning, and their pedagogical value. One interesting thoughts I had from this was that a collaborative activity must have collaborative properties, it is not enough to give a learning activity to a group of learners, at best the learners will use a divide and conquer strategy to divide up the work and then glue it together for your benefit. Collaborative learning activities must be designed with collaborative attributes. I thought this was interesting and not something people consider when they say they use collaborative learning - just because you have a chat, message board or group work does not mean collaborative learning is taking place.

The next talk I went to was given by Iyad AlAgha, he discussed his tool which allows for the supplementing of learning material with material found on the web. Basically the idea is that the tool will get supplementary material for the primary learning material so that you the learner do not have to go look for it. To do this the tool uses a SKOS ontology working in the background. The name of the tool is SWLinker, and has two parts the webdictonary and the learner guide, which provides learning material on some concept which features in the primary material. I would be very interested in seeing how this tool worked with random sample of material and ontologies sourced from third parties. I also thought it would be really interesting to combine this technology with the personalisation effort in AEH.

I then saw Sergio Martin talk about about he problems the UNED are having in managing the multitude of communication channels into the college and matching queries on those channels with knowledge which also feature on multiple sources.

I also saw an interesting panel discussion on "Why technology innovations are still a cottage industry in education?", the panel included Dragan Gasevic, who outlined three key enablers which he thought needed to be addressed - ID Management, Knowledge Management and Services. Jon Drom who though that the cottage like industry was where the value in elearning lay, and Vive Kumar - who thought that the critical mass is needed and outlined shareability as the key to move to a more industrialised place.

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