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Highlights from the first day of the Innovating e-Learning conference 2006

Ros Smith
Last modified 29 Mar, 2006
Published 29 Mar, 2006
The JISC Online Conference ‘Innovating e-Learning Practice 2006’ was launched with a welcome address by Sarah Porter, Head of Development at JISC, in which she laid out her vision for the e-Learning Programme.

Day One opened with a rich and varied programme, including a keynote from Professor Diana Laurillard on the future of learning design, the role of the conversational framework, and what opportunities it offers for developing generic designs for learning – ‘generic forms that can migrate across all disciplines and levels and be customised through introducing the specific content where necessary’. For Professor Laurillard, e-learning offered rich variety in terms of learning design and learning experiences:

“One of the most exciting things about e-learning is that it can change the way you engage with knowledge, ideas, information, theories... because knowledge and ideas can be represented within, say, simulation environments, games, role-plays, because systems of ideas (such as history, economics, physics) can be represented as virtual environments in which you can give the learner access to experimentation, play, discovery, building and making... and because information environments allow you to search and explore texts in ways that only scholars could do before... for many reasons, e-learning can change what and how we learn and come to know.” Professor Diana Laurillard, London Knowledge Lab

Fred Garnett, Becta, opened his InsideOut blog by seeing learning design as an opportunity to place control in the hands of the practitioner and the learner. ‘This seems to get us into territory where the practitioner can drive use of the technology and focus on the fact that learning is a social process.’

A lively symposium session focusing on the disciplinary aspects of learning design was led by John Cook, London Metropolitan University in conjunction with the HEA Subject Centres, in which answers to questions such as ‘Are we sure there really are important differences in the way e-learning approaches are applied? were invited and debated.

Four further sessions and a ‘Designing for learning in context’ area kept delegates enthralled with high-quality presentations and debates. These included a discussion through a wiki between Dr Patrick McAndrew in the UK and Professor James Dalziel in Australia on whether learning design can help us share designs, an exploration of common vocabularies to enable practitioners describe and discover reusable learning designs by Professor Allison Littlejohn, University of Dundee, and Professor Ron Oliver, Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. Finally, Ellen Lessner, Abingdon and Witney College, and Eta DeCicco, NIACE, set out a persuasive argument that so-called assistive technologies have the potential to enable all learners, if institutions have the vision to support their use of technology. Delegates in this session shared their tricks and tips in customising computer screens in a wiki.

Papers and presentations submitted under the Open Call are placed in the ‘In context’ area in each theme. In this theme, delegates could engage with content submitted from the University of South Australia and CETIS in the UK.

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