Back from LYICT conference in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

This Saturday I returned from four days conference in Kuala Lumpur. The LYICT conference entitled ‘ICT and Learning for the Net Generation’ was an IFIP conference (Internation Federation for Information Processing) and more specifically connected to TC3 (Technical Committee) on ICT and Education. It consisted of a two days open conference and a two day working conference, where there were discussions in smaller groups around different themes. The conference took place at the beautiful and comfortable Saujana Hotel and it was arranged as a joint venture between the International Program Committee and a Local Organising Committee – the latter headed by Open University Malaysia. I have not attended an IFIP conference previously (though I did co-author a paper for the 8th IFIP World Conference on Computers in Education (WCCE) 2005 in Stellenbosch, South Africa), but the organisation, venue and logistics were really great. Furthermore, the organisers have put a lot of pictures from the conference online, which can be found here. The only thing missing was actually access to a wireless network during the conference sessions (which might actually also be a good thing :-) ).

The conference in general was really exciting, and there were many interesting presentations. I presented the paper Patchworking and Power Users – a Novel Approach to Understand Learning? (co-authored with Prof. Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld). The paper develops and presents some of the ideas from my PhD dissertation, but also critically addresses notions such as Digital Millennium Learners, Power Users, the Net Generation, Digital Natives and other generational metaphors (see also a previous blog-posting on this issue). It was presented in a session together with three other presenters. Michael Weigend presented his experiences with some programming projects where students had to model and program scenarios of ‘how to tell a joke’. As Michael writes in the abstract:

“Principles of communication are an important issue in everyday life as well as in nformation technology. Timing, pauses at the right places in a monologue, waiting or feedback and obeying protocols are essential for the success of  small talk at a party and for data transfer between computers as well”

The idea of the project “was to encourage students to explicate and elaborate abstract models by creating artefacts in order to construct meaning and  find individual access to fundamental ideas of computer science” through having them build and program various communicative situations around ‘how to tell a joke’. I found it quite interesting and very sort of etnomethodologically or interaction analysis inspired – it did also turn out that Michael has an interest in symbolic interactionism and has a background from Education and Communication before obtaining a degree within Computer Science/Informatics.

After Michael, Ana Carvalho presented a paper on ‘Pedagogical Potentialities of Podcasts in Learning: reactions from K-12 to university students in Portugal’. The paper presents findings from three different case studies where podcasting has been used to distribute material/lectures as podcasts, rather than only in written form, but also – and more interesting in my opinion – podcasts were used as a means to involve and activate students more by having them create podcasts summing up or presenting their thoughts on a particular topic. I find the latter perspective much more interesting than viewing podcasts as a ‘new, faster, modern channel of distribution of teachers’ material for students to digest’. I think is interesting (and somewhat cyclic) that every time a new technology/practice is introduced, the first thing that happens is that it is seen as a new (faster, more efficient) way of distributing or transferring “material” from teacher to student, rather than as a way of actively engaging the learners in various, self-governed, productive activities. In Denmark various political parties and student organisations have demanded/suggested that all lectures should be pod/vod-casted – a suggestion which has been heralded as an innovative, ICT-pedagogical approach of the future. Though, there might be some benefits of podcasting (some) lectures, I hardly find new ways of distributing material/transferring knowledge from teacher to student as being in the ‘premier league’ of ICT-pedagogical innovation – something which Christian Dalsgaard, Mikkel Godsk, Bjørn Møller Gregersen and David Gråbæk also mention in a recent paper entitled ‘Pragmatic Podcasting: How to Easily Facilitate Podcasting‘:

“Often, video podcasts from universities are recorded lectures or more professional lecture-like recordings. In other words, they are seen as replacements for lectures, and the videos are, in effect, teaching. Seeing podcasts as resources for students’ problem-oriented activities insists on a different approach to creation of podcasts”

I think there are much more creative and innovative ways of utilising podcasting as a pedagogical tool than podcasting three hours video-lectures, and I think Ana Carvalho and colleagues go well beyond viewing podcasting merely as a new distribution channel in their paper. So I am looking forward to reading the paper and the findings more thoroughly.

Finally, in our session Andy Schär presented the paper: ‘Storytelling for Students – Web 2.0 at School’. He presented some very interesting findings related to the pedagogical use of the site/portal MyMoments. MyMoments is a a web 2.0 inspired site where children can write small narratives, diary notes, stories etc. and share them with their class-mates and the teacher – Andy presents it in the following way in the abstract:

“The two Internet platforms “mymoment” and “minipodium” have struck a new didactic path. They don’t offer prefabricated content. Instead, they provide a space for children to publish their own texts and films they have created during class hours. The focus is on children and their creativity”

Apart from being an interesting environment and a good example of more active learning approaches, Andy also presented findings that showed improvements in students reading and writing skills (and increased motivation for reading/writing) after working with the tool as part of classes. Even more interesting was that Andy presented some findings suggesting that, in particular, the motivation for reading and writing degraded some time after the experimental period, but (apparently) significantly less in the classes still using the MyMoment environment. These findings and numbers do not seem to be part of the paper, but they might be found on the project website. At least they sounded quite interesting and this is something I would like to really read more about!

I will get back to discussing more experiences from the conference in later posts, but I would also highly recommend Steve Wheelers blog – both in general, but also Steve (who was elected chair of TC3.6 on Distance Education) posted a number of entries on the LYICT conference. Unfortunately, I missed Steve’s presentation on ‘Informal learning in Second Life’, as I had to chair a concurrent session. This was really a shame (although the session I chaired was really interesting), as the topic seemed quite exciting, but more so because of the 5 presenters in the panel only Steve was actually in KL. The others (Graham Atwell, Helen Keegan, David White, Steve Warburton) presented from Germany and UK through elluminate – this you can more about on Steven’s own post on the panel.

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