Saturday, December 20, 2008

CADE and AMTEC, 2007 (May 12-16)

First of all, I appreciate the generous support which allowed me to make my first learning journey to CADE/AMTEC in terms of not only the departmental financial support but also team members' mental support.

While I was coming back home, I thought reflecting on what I learned from the conference would give you some information on where this learning community is heading and what happened in this community. I think sharing always doesn’t have any harm at all. Also, my learning couldn’t be possible without the departmental support.

I had three expectations from this conference: I wanted 1) to know more about the Distance Education people because I was curious to know who the participants were 2) to see how technology issues are discussed within distance education, and 3) to experience how the organization runs and the annual meeting takes place.

Being a lonely goose from our department, I realized that a sense of community and belonging is really important. But due to the loneliness, I was able to meet more people.
First of all, my presentation about Wimba went well. I got good questions/feedbacks after the presentation.

Here are some thoughts and comments about the community and events I experienced:

1) Pre-conference workshop
I attended a half day workshop, “Using Second Life with Moodle in the Classroom, Enhancing Pedagogy through Serious Games.”

My main motivation to attend the workshop was to know more about the cutting-edge technology. My aim was to explore Second Life.
I grasped a basic knowledge about Second Life from the workshop.

(1) My awareness about the program has increased. Even though it seems very complex and hard to use for me, the popularity about the program is tremendously growing. The current subscribers already reach more than 6 million people. (2) The program combined the virtual world and real economy. (3) It also enables humans to do what is impossible in real life such as Avita’s flying, and changing characters by using various items from inventories. (4) The virtual world is not a game. It means that it doesn’t have any challenging destination, unlike games. (5) The facilitator, Jeremy Kemp, is currently involved in a project, which combines Second Life and Moodle, creating a merged one named Snoodle. Second Life isn’t voice enabled yet. Snoodle merged the social interaction feature from Second Life and the educational management system from Moodle. As you may know, Moodle is an open source CMS tool. . (6) More importantly, the workshop kept me thinking about pedagogical implications. It seems interesting, but what and how can I use it in the classroom? It seems too far to make any feasible implications at this moment because the computer I used kept freezing while exploring the program. That was a reality but who knows, in about in a decade, we sit in a virtual world to teach. I could be a slim and blonde teacher in the virtual world.

2) My learning from the main conference consists of three things. Also these three things were the main issues many people talked about.

(1) Global village
This conference took place under the theme of Global Village, Marshall McLuhan’s envision in the 1960s. Most of the keynote speeches stemmed from the conference theme. There were four keynote speakers: Derrick de Kerchhove, Eric McLuhan, Ellen D. Wagner, and Herve Fischer. There were a few presentations about the global village.
A more important and interesting issue from the theme was in alert and warning about constant technology evolution from the printing technology to the Virtual world. Quite a few people voiced that we need to take a moment to think about where we are because new technologies do not mean always good and improvement.

(2) Social Softwares: Web 2.0
I spent some time in the sessions about Social Softwares. Even though I was aware of the tools thanks to Brian’s contribution to our department, I was curious to know how they are used in classrooms. The presentations I attended will greatly help me to explain their functionalities as well as the pedagogical effects to the instructors who may be interested in the use of the Social Softwares in the future. Also I found out about one more interesting social software, which is called Kayuda ( Brian might be of interest in exploring this software in the future.

(3) Second Life
Even though I had attended the Second Life workshop, I naturally wanted to see how it could be used in online classes. As I mentioned earlier, Second Life still has a lot of room for improvement for pedagogical implementations.

3) At the Award Banquet on behalf of Chris
Whenever I was taking photos (three times, uhrrr.), I told them that I am not Chris. Even though I was definitely proud of my colleague, Chris, for the award, I was a little nervous whenever people flashed lights over me because people may misunderstand me as the recipient who is very smart and dedicated (haha…). I got a lot of congratulations from the people and I was finally overwhelmed. Anyhow, I safely took the award without any mistreatment and delivered it to Chris.

I think my expectations from this conference were generally met. The people I met there were very friendly and nice. I thoroughly felt the unique Canadian atmosphere. I became more aware of where distance education is at and where it is headed for. Also the conference was very well prepared in terms of the time management of the main conference and preparation for the next year event. It will take place in April in Banff next year.

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