Wednesday, 19 September 2007

EUROCALL 2007 Conference

I just got back from the EUROCALL 2007 conference at the University of Coleraine, Northern Ireland – followed by a one-week holiday touring the North-West of Ireland. It was one of the best EUROCALL conferences I have attended since EUROCALL first became an official professional association in 1993. This year’s conference included a more elaborate online Virtual Strand than last year’s conference in Granada, Spain. As well as the conference blog and the Blobber text chat facility, this year’s Virtual Strand included the Yaplet text chat facility, live online presentations in text chat, and podcasts in which conference participants expressed their impressions of presentations that they attended. The plenary keynotes and panel discussion were streamed and are also archived. An asynchronous discussion list has also been set up. All the details are here:

The blog, to which you will find a link at the above URL, will remain active for some time.

It is often said that if you return from a conference with three new important impressions or ideas then the conference has been a success. These are mine:

1. Bernd Rüschoff, talking about wikis in his plenary presentation on Web 2.0, pointed out that an analysis of the answers given by the audience in the German TV version of “Who wants to be a millionaire” were predominantly right. He reflected that the criticism levelled at wikis such as Wikipedia may be unjustified, as collective knowledge is increasingly proving to be reliable.

2. The video that Gràinne Conole showed in her plenary presentation of the student living in a high-tech house and using a variety of digital devices as part of her everyday life left a lasting impression on me. Teachers need to be aware that the new generation of students feel completely at ease with new technologies.

3. Uschi Felix – who declared her intention to retire from academic life this year – warned us that students will not be impressed if they are confronted with “boring old technology” at school or university. On the other hand, they often react negatively to teachers who think they are being trendy by using Facebook and other social network sites that are popular with young people. Students often perceive such sites as “their” property, which they want to keep for themselves.

All in all, this was a great conference. All the sessions that I attended were good. The weather was kind to us, we observed a perfect sunset from the venue of the Gala Dinner, were entertained by the Altnaveigh House Band, the best Irish/Scottish band (with a fabulous dancer) that I have ever heard, and we danced ourselves to exhaustion at the Céilí, to the accompaniment of the highly-accomplished traditional music band, Craobh Rua (Red Branch).

Just a reminder that the main EUROCALL website, which contains information about previous and forthcoming conferences, can be found at: