Reflections on ECEL 2012

slide1_ecelIn this week’s guest blog, Elaine Mowat, Academic Developer, within the Professional Academic Development team in Human Resources and Development at Edinburgh Napier reflects on her recent conference attendance, the European Conference on e-Learning, which was held in Groningen. 

With participants from Japan, Jordan, Iran, the United States, Canada and New Zealand, along with just about every country within Europe, the European Conference on e-learning (ECEL) 2012 was a lively and cosmopolitan gathering. The focus of the conference was on looking ‘Beyond the Gadget’ to find the value in e-learning and the wide spectrum of contributions provided a snapshot of current practice and research across many different educational contexts. For example, we could hear about the experience of using blogs as an assessment tool in Catalan Higher Education and the mobile dissemination of computer based learning in rural India, as well as approaches to elearning evaluation and ideas about how Web 2.0 technologies are affecting academic roles in higher education.

Julia Fotheringham in the Academy Building at the University of Groningen

Julia Fotheringham in the Academy Building at the University of Groningen

From Edinburgh Napier, Julia Fotheringham and I shared our experience of action research into online peer assessment in our presentation Peer to Peer – The Full Cycle: Investigating Online Peer Assessment through Action Research and Keith Smyth reported on Sharing and Shaping Effective Institutional Practice in TEL through the 3E Framework. The buzz and interest generated by Keith’s session underlines the value we have in our benchmark for the use of technology in modules. Colleagues Aileen Sibbald and Mammed Bagher from the Business School were also at the conference to contribute their views and catch up on developments.

The highlight for me was the chance to hear Eric Mazur from Harvard University talk about his rigorous and influential research into peer instruction, as this has greatly informed our use at Edinburgh Napier of the TurningPoint ‘clicker’ student response system.  His keynote lecture ‘Confessions of a Converted Lecturer’ provided an honest and uplifting account of his development as a teacher and underlined the importance of taking the effort to investigate your own practice and to adjust your approach accordingly. As Mazur demonstrates, the impact on the student experience can be tangible and significant.

The Academy Building at the University of Groningen provided a handsome and dignified backdrop for our discussions and the conference was extremely well administered by Academic Conferences International. The destination for ECEL 2013 – Sophia-Antipolis in the south of France – sounds most congenial – I recommend that you consider the call for papers!

You can find out more about the call for papers for this year’s ECEL conference  at:

http://academic-conferences.org/ecel/ecel2013/ecel13-call-papers.htm

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