Innovating E-Learning Conference 2006

Various authors, Eccos Revista Científica, Jan 29, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

JISC announced, on Friday, that "The proceedings of all three themes of the 2006 JISC Online Conference Innovating e-Learning 2006: Transforming Learning Experiences are now available as downloadable e-books." The books are mixtures of presentations and summaries, with links to multimedia (such as Flash video of the presentations). The three themes are: "Designing for Learning, Learner Experiences of e-Learning and Innovating e-Learning Practice."

I read through the Learner Experiences text and found the discussion frustrating. There is much talk of the need for greater learner control, and much reluctance to give them any. A lot of this is a matter of perspective. The discussion starts by acknowledging that the learner's voice is drowned by all the special interests, and so this book will give a voice to... the teachers. Then in Chapter 3 we see the students' words being asterisked out. And then there's the obligatory description of lack of motivation - why those self-managing students are doing their mandatory work instead of the student-led stuff (am I the only one who sees how absurd this is?). Then we get conflicting views of the wiki - teachers love it, students, less so. "These observations beg the question who is the better judge of effective learning strategies, the student or the lecturer?" Notice the subtle shift in the question - we're not about making choices any more, we're talking about who the best qualified judges are. As if it matters.

My compliments to JISC for effective and accessible coverage. Now, if they could only get away from the idea that PDF is a screen-reading format. Give us HTML to read on screen, and leave the PDFs for the I-print-my-email set.
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