Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some brief thoughts on Learning Without Frontiers

I've been meaning to write a reflective piece on Learning Without Frontiers for some time now but have been running to stand still since I came back from London. This isn't the piece I wanted to write but is an attempt to capture some thoughts before it slips too far into the past.

Stephen Heppell
Originally uploaded by mrjorgen
The main thing I want to note is how good this conference was. It was outstandingly good! For example, the last two speakers were Lord Puttnam and Jimmy Wales (see LWF11 - Lord David Puttnam of Queensgate and LWF11 - Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia), and just a bit before that we heard from the magnificent Mr Heppell (see LWF11 - Stephen Heppell ). Almost without exception, over the course of the two days, each speaker said something that challenged, inspired or got me excited about learning and teaching. Some even got me annoyed - and that was a good thing too. I think my students must already be fed up with me because in every class I have taken since the conference I have found myself saying, often a number of times, " the conference I was at in London..."

As I look back at my posts, typed up live during the two days, I realise that's what they are: notes. Often I was struggling to keep up, or getting carried away by the ideas and the possibilities; too carried away to properly capture what they were saying. Twenty-five posts from a two day conferences gives an indication of how much good stuff was going on but it's clear that they are rough sketches of a few of the main points. What is lacking is reflection and evaluation. (And basic editing/proof-reading in some cases!)

But that's another thing that was so brilliant about the conference. Where I am lacking, there are a many others leaping in to fill the gap. For example Ewan McIntosh was blogging live but managed give insightful comments on the topics as he did so (see for example his post on Karen Cator). Other participants absorbed the ideas, considered them and wrote excellent reflections on the whole event (see for example Oliver Quinlan's Reflections on Learning Without Frontiers 2011). And then there is the Twitter activity that started before the conference, exploded during it and continues even now. I don't think I have ever been to an event where the hashtag has been so active such a long time after the event. Have a search for #lwf11 or take a look at the archive of messages (6122 and still growing) and get a glimpse of an active learning community learning together. The impact of the conference is reaching far beyond those of us who attended in person and reaching in time far longer than the official 48 hours (well, 72 if you count the pre-event on Sunday).

My intention when starting this post was to write a reflective piece, highlighting some of the key things I'd learned. It seems though that I've turned it into a glowing report instead... but I suppose that gives me the excuse to come back and try again next week once the videos start appearing and share my personal highlights then!

What events have you attended that got you excited about learning and teaching?

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