Friday, 30 November 2007

Online Educa Berlin 2007

David and I have made it to O EB2007 this year for the first time. The first thing to note is that I think I have been pronouncing 'Educa" wrong. General wisdom seems to suggest that it is 'ed-doo-kah' rather than 'ed-you-ca'. So that is that sorted, at least.

It's a very corporate event, so an interesting mix of people some of whom you feel are here to be seen rather than engage in much by the way of meaningful discussion. Networking events abound.

It's also huge; I mean, really H-U-G-E. The opening plenary (more of that below) had all 2000 of us in a single hall. Feeding and watering times are interesting as well, in terms of just the sheer volume of numbers.

So, the opening plenary was plagued by technical problems. In the second talk, Sugata Mitra started his talk with only half a slide displayed. He coped admirably, ("this is going to be a bit of challenge...") reducing the audience to fits of laughter as all projection cut-out (".. now this is going to be an even bigger challenge!")

His talk, on the hole in the wall experiments, bringing computers to remote locations in India, was inspirational, with the warmth of the sustained applause at its end reflecting the fact that it had clearly struck a chord with delegates.

The final speaker in the plenary session was Andrew Keen (and now for something completely different, as the phrase goes). He is widely regarded as Web2.0's most vocal contrarian and he certainly knows how to rattle people's cages. His delivery was very fire-and-brimstone; planted arms on the podium, loud and slow delivery. I felt like I was being condemned as a sinner by an agressive priest. I don't agree with all of what he has to say, and there was not too much of an educational focus in his talk (more cultural). But he has got a point about the read-write-web encouraging 'the cult of the amateur' (the title of his book). It's good to see that someone will take up the challenge of questioning the value of some of these things. (There's still a fair amount of technology-comes-first in evidence here).

He came back later in the day to do a panel session. I missed it as we were out taking in a bit more of Berlin than just the inside of a hotel (David was chief photographer). But I heard it was a lively session.

Speaking of lively sessions (here's hoping), we are doing a best practice showcase today, talking about good ol' Physics 1A and Aardvark in a bistro-style session (their terminology, not mine). Following an initial presentation, you stand at bistro-style tables and talk to whoever wanders past. We'll see how it goes..... David has promised to get some photos of us working here (so it wasn't just a jolly).

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