Where have I been?

It’s been a very busy week. Oxford for Shock and Beyond on the 22-23 March. This year the Shock was ‘of the Social’ and concerned with social networking in higher education. The following day was the Beyond debate – this year, Beyond the Search Engine, which tackled plagiarism. S and I had a fine time. I had my new work laptop and we were enthroned in a superlatively furbished Said Business School lecture theatre and blogging the proceedings (to work – see my previous post) via the wireless network. We nattered away – shop – at lunchtime and I think I persuaded somebody from education department at Oxford who was about to advertise a couple of “Learning Technologist” posts to advertise for “Educational Developers” instead. Which is a bit of a turnaround, because I can hear myself only last year pronouncing to somebody quite senior and national at a book meeting that I’d rather retrieve the job title than abandon it. Trouble is, I can’t seem to manage to retrieve it. Then we drank ourselves silly and didn’t manage to get to our hotel a fair way up Banbury Rd before everyone had gone to bed but luckily we managed to arrange the key code to get in. This time we had double rooms and they had a wireless network. Am I addicted to being connected? That would be weird for an introvert like me – must remember to ask Tomas about it.

Then I went to Dublin – more accurated I flew to Dublin. I flew for the first time in 6 years and was so moved as we left the runway that I cried a bit. On the way back in the dark as we made our approach into Heathrow I gasped at Docklands and the Isle of Dogs. The London Eye and Piccadilly Circus shone out like two funky badges. CAL ’07 was the reason. Our symposium went down extremely well, although my particular presentation was just scenesetting for the three that followed – very distinct approaches to Design for Learning. What has happened to that JISC programme is quite remarkable – if you’re feeling calculating, it would seem that the Design for Learning (D4L) projects were conceived (by JISC, though not in a rubbing-hands-together-and-cackling sort of way) as helpmeets for the Learning Design (LD) projects – the idea being to harvest practice and turn it into blueprints or models which could be turned into off-the-shelf designs. A number of the D4L people are turning round and declaring that this isn’t working and that there is too much tacit and contingent and human about teaching and about the subject areas themselves to be readily turned into machine code. The exceptions are revealing – objective testing goes down well, as do lessons on things like referencing and handwashing. But what about teaching about nature in Romantic poetry – never seen that.

Dublin was vastly improved on a decade ago and I soon stopped resenting having to be there. Found an unsecured wireless network on the top of St Stephen’s Green shopping centre and downloaded a couple of MP3 guided walks to my SD card and off I went, popping in on Liz in O’Connell St on the way. It was absolutely lovely, I was so contented and it was springtime in Dublin.

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