Pedaling my ponderings on Online Educa in Berlin #OEB


Online Educa has to be one of the world’s largest E-Learning conferences world wide, but despite having ‘online’ in the title this is a physical event which has taken place in Berlin for the last 18 years. The conference  is truly global with delegate arriving from all corners of the earth but with by far the largest non German contingent coming from the UK. Indeed I was surprised to see how many speakers I knew from the UK . Amongst others, I ran in to  Laura Overton and Gennie Dixon from Towards Maturity  , Maren Deepwell from ALT , Paul Bacsich from SERO  and of course Gilly Salmon (now actually in Australia).  There were plenty more names to drop but notable for me was Mona, a young English teacher  from Palestine. She was blown away by her first visit to Europe and was enjoying every minute of the discussions.


What can I say?

Any report is a pale shadow of the experience it seeks to reflect and the intensity of two full conference Educa days plus the ‘fringe’ means that I have had to be very selective. I used the day after the event to let things settle and cycle around the city.

Messages from the big stage.

After opening the event, plenary chair, Shafika Issacs, introduced Mark Milliron from Western Governors University, Texas. I liked the way Mark used a quick finger and thumb game with the whole audience of 400+ to illustrate how we can expect that changes to education provoked by new technology will  feel awkward and unfamiliar to us all. He warned of the resistant  professionals who he described as CAVE people : Colleagues Against Virtually Everything!     I’ve met them Mark, I know who you mean!

He was the first of many to refer to inevitable rise if mobile learning and reminded us that Play is serious and that there is huge growth in online games market especially from adult women and retired people!

Seb Schmoller (UK) was good value as usual. After sharing a moving story of his Jewish family link with Berlin he entreated the audience to prepare for  changes that technology levers in education by taking account of great thinkers, taking note of cornerstone ideas . He went on to encourage  going to scale collaboratively and in doing this, to take more account of the ethical implications of what we do with technology.

Abolition of diplomas and degrees? The evening debate.

Jef Staes and Donald Clark made passionate and very amusing presentations in favour of the motion that ‘this  house believes that a ban on diplomas and degrees awarded by schools and universities would have a positive effect on competence development and lifelong learning’.  Wow, they certainly mad a good case for the distortion effect that this type of certification has on people’s learning paths.  Jef suggested that the current system treats us like sheep and keeps us locked in a 2D world!

Check out this video of part of his presentation.

In the midst of the fervous of anti status hatred stirred up their opponents, Kirstie Donnelly and Sue Martin had a tough job trying to attack the motion and defend the current accreditation system. In the eyes of several speakers  their position was weakened by their vested interests as employees of firms involved in selling examinations!  There was however, concensus in the room  that professional should be known to be competent – no one was willing to travel in a plane piloted by an amateur!

Result: degrees and diplomas would be abolished world wide if by any chance the 200 pr so present at the debate  ever came to power in a world government!

Open educational resources

You just can’t have an event these days without the OER turning up somewhere along the line. But what is it really all about.

This is close to my heart and I know why but as the conference wore on I realised that speakers and stake holders to whom the referred so often wet not ex.icit about heir motivation and many not even be too clear in heir heads.

My immediate scribbles on the note pad are just a starter for an analysis of why people are in favour of OERs .












Film and Video

Film director, Michael Grigsby did give a keynote where he expounded on his own philosophy of film making. Whilst It was interesting to hear but he was strong on high standards of professional level production and reflected practices rooted way back in early twentieth century. I was sad. In this educational conference, that he ignored a chance to acknowledge the  value of ‘quick and dirty’ video to offer ‘just in time’ learning, and to record progress in ways to provoke reflection.

Film and video had been deliberately given a high profile in the programme and the workshops on film techniques such as camera wok, sound and editing were all full. The questions I heard in these suggests hat a lot of institutions and production companies are getting in to video for all sorts of reasons.

And then there was languages………….. as I chaired that session I have provided a separate blog post on that theme.

For all the rest – well you could else someone else who attended or check the official press releases.


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