Thursday, 3 January 2013

Looking back at SOLSTICE 2012

I've only just got round to writing up my thoughts on June's SOLSTICE 2012 conference. 2012 was the 7th year that SOLSTICE has run, which indicates how valuable people have found it.

Student Presentations

It was particularly good to hear the perspectives of the students who were invited to ‘show us how they used technology to help them be an effective learner’. We get a good overview of device ownership, what students want from an online learning environment, and where students study from the eLearning surveys that we run each year, but hearing a more in-depth description of students' experiences shows us more about how students think and feel.

More than one of the students mentioned how they use free online courses run by companies like Coursera to add to the learning they do in class. It's great now that students have so many opportunities that enhance their learning and experience, which we never had back in the 90s when I was a student. They not only mentioned free courses, but also ebooks which mean they have to travel to the library less, and better support for students with Dyslexic from both staff and technology.

Quick links to videos of student presentations are below.

Keynote Presentations

Steve Wheeler was the first of the keynote speakers with a call for openness in education. He challenges the hoarding of knowledge, and talks about open scholarship and open peer review. I especially like what he says about Dave Willey's 6 trends for the digital age (below).

I agree that we could argue that we have genuinely used the technology in education to gain the benefits from making things available digitally, and to an extent on mobile devices. I think many students are creating rather than just consuming. However our courses are still closed, keeping learners more isolated than they need to be, and the technology is not yet being used to personalise learning in a major way.

After lunch Rob Reed talked about a graduate attribute mapping tool that they created at Central Queensland University to simplify the process of tracking development of the attributes.

The videos for both keynotes are below.

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