Il Foro

Last week I attended the Il Foro Conference in Baeza, Spain. This annual meeting brings together staff from the 10 universities in Andalusia who are involved in creating and running a shared virtual campus – Campus Andaluz Virtual. The focus of this conference was sharing best practice around teaching and learning strategies. The conference committee asked me to present about the role of standards in elearning.

Part of my reason for accepting the invitation to present was around my own PDP. I am trying to learn Spanish just now, so this seemed an ideal opportunity to practice. The thought of a bit of winter sunshine may have helped sway the decision too! Even with my limited knowledge of Spanish it was interesting to see how many similar issues around student engagement, creativity, web 2.0, mobile technologies and most importantly effective use of technology were being debated during the three days.

The virtual campus is a totally online option for students, with each of the universities offering a selection of courses to students in any of the participating Universities. There is a main portal which then links to each institutions learning environment.

In terms of my own learning and use of technology, having a Spanish dictionary on my ipod and google translate to hand did allow me to follow more quickly and easily and less obviously some of the bits I didn’t understand than I would have been able to without them. Though most web 2.0 terminology seems to be universally in English, reminding me of debates around the “e” in elearning standing for English.

The contrast to the conference surroundings to the CETIS conference in Birmingham the week before was quite also quite stark. Nothing against the Lakeside Centre but it really can’t compete with this:

And the wifi worked perfectly:-)

My presentation gave an overview of CETIS and our development from a JISC project to our current status as an innovation support centre, our work with standards and our changing working practices. I think it’s only when you explain to people outwith the UK the level of support JISC provides to our sector, you really start to (re)appreciate what a valuable contribution it makes to developing infrastructure and take up and use of technology within our sector.

Another personal reflection was my decision to use a ‘traditional’ power point presentation with the oh so unfashionable bulleted list. I know, in one of Martin Weller’s futures I would have been condemned for that. I had thought I would do a prezi with lots of pictures etc, but actually as my presentation was being simultaneously translated and I had to send it in advance, I think it actually made more sense to be a bit text heavy. It meant that my translator knew in advance I was going to use some not very common words and acroynms. It also meant that those in the audience could do what I had been doing early and use their ipods etc to translate themselves. If you are interested, the slides are available from slideshare.

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