My previous complaints about the weather, the hotel, urban planning, etc… no doubt make me seem like some sort of ingrate. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some valuable experiences here at EDUCAUSE.
Our pre-conference seminar on ePortfolios and Social Software went fairly well, though we were hamstrung a bit by time management (ie I talked too much and went long). Michelle Chua and Kele Fleming were a blast to work with in preparation for the workshop, and they both turned in stellar performances. Perhaps the most noteworthy element for me was the increase in interest and aptitude with social software among the attendees. Last year, when I co-delivered Rip Mix Feed with Alan, we had to start from the beginning on topics such as blogs, wikis and RSS, and make a case for their legitimacy. This year, I was impressed with how many attendees were launching or planning weblog initiatives on their campuses, and roughly half said they had personally used a wiki, about a third said they had posted to a blog.
Today I enjoyed the featured presentation by James Hilton from Michigan, who gave a very engaging and informed overview of the challenges to higher learning presented by the new media environment, copyright and the promise of open source. Regular readers of ed tech blogs would not have been surprised by most of what he discussed (though his delivery and observations made it compelling anyway), but once again I found the reaction from the large audience very encouraging… lots of nods.
And as ever, the most rewarding stuff for me has been in the halls. By prior arrangement, I was interviewed by a cohort from Holland. They are sending something like 21 people from 15 Dutch universities to this conference — and to justify the effort and expense they have devised a coordinated set of research questions that they need to investigate in the sessions and by collecting responses via interviews. Then they need to compile their findings in a book — how’s that for accountability on a travel budget? I don’t know if my answers were useful to them, but it was a fun conversation — mostly centering on the balance between rigorous digital preservation of important assets and systems that allow for easy sharing of more ephemeral resources. (I’ll have to return to this theme when I’m not so sleepy — we drifted to a few novel places that I found intriguing.) And I had a couple of good solid Gardner fixes, talking about the usual diverse topics — our ideal visions of higher learning, what excites and frustrates us about our current reality, movies, books, music… as well as his excellent new article on podcasting in the EDUCAUSE Review (which I will blog properly soon). Being able to talk with Gardner and other smart, passionate peers at events like this is a rare pleasure and privilege. And I am truly grateful, however snarky I sometimes get in this space.
But once again, I came back to the hotel and they had left the air conditioning running full blast all day in my empty room. I think I’ll try leaving a note about that tomorrow.