Monday, October 1, 2012

Two amazing conferences - Part 1

I had planned to do first bit of Geocaching today, but, in a very strange turn of events it is actually DRIZZLING in Nicosia in summer.  What makes this even stranger is that it is during their national holiday - so it will rain on their parade...
But that allows (no forces) me to sit down and reflect on the two conferences that I have just attended.  One in Pretoria, one in Cyprus.  Both amazing in the way in which they have been able to integrate where we are with technology, and where we are (or are NOT) with education.  There seems to be this constant disconnect between what technology allows for education, and what we will allow it to do for us.  We keep on under-utilizing it.
So, here then a couple of notes and links regarding what I have learnt from the two conferences.

University of Pretoria Library Services e-Strategy Symposium: Out of the e-box 19-20 September 2012  #Fablib

After a nice opening in which Prof Stephanie Burton, DVC Research of UP presented a few really good challenges to the library, Dr Adele Botha of the CSIR did another one of her stunning presentations about Mobile learning. This link is to another presentation of hers, but she is VERY worth listening to.  I don't know if she is the one who coined the term, but what I now know best from her presentation is about the quest for the ever elusive "3G-spot"  that place, somewhere in a tree in Africa, where there is fleeting 3G reception. And under the three there is budding commercial activity...  Huge cudos for Adele is that she managed to tempt a very busy DVC who had a day of interviews ahead to stay till the very end of her presentation - while constantly saying to me "I have to go - please tell her I am sorry I missed the last bit" - and then she stayed to the end.  Well done, Adele.

I did my "Seven ages of Technology in Education" Then there were two Skype presentations.  One by Robert Miller about the Internet Archive Book Digitization Project, where they are in the process of digitising EVERY BOOK that there is in the world.  They already have made a backup of the INTERNET.  Yes, they downloaded the entire Internet onto hard disks and stored it in a HUGE shipping container.  The mind boggles.  This resonated well with a presentation by Michelle Rago about the World Digital Library.Put the two presentations together and one wonders why there is still a need for an institutional repository.  We need to sit down and think very seriously about information provision at a university.  It it not better to hire a really good human who can search for information, rather than to hire yet another subscription to yet another commercial repository.  Will the university library of the future consist of a few highly skilled helpdesk workers?  I hope so.

Then the metrics of scholarship came under fire.  Leslie Chan took us on a journey towards "Re-imagining research impact in the open knowledge environment", which made me wonder: Do we really still need impact factors and H-scores if there is  The very concept of measuring readership as an indication of quality has made me wonder.  If we see how many people mention you - regardless of whether that is a social citation or a citation in an accredited journal - using that to measure quality should then place "50 Shades of Grey" way higher than "The great Gatsby"  And this could have interesting repercussions for designing high school reading lists.

In his paper about Libraries, technology trends and researcher expectations, Theo Bothma took us on a whirlwind tour of URLs and technologies, most of which I tried to capture in my Evernote file. Two things that come to mind immediately upon reflection is Flipboard, and the Youtube clip about the Social Media Revolution, 2012.

The next morning Dr DR AMALEYA GONEOS‐MALKA presented a powerful analysis of "Marketing to young adults in the context of a post‐modern society".  This resonated so strongly with what we have been saying so long about learners in a digital age.  The point is, we really have to re-think the learning tasks we give students, as well as the way we assess their learning.  This was a very strong theme at the Nicosia conference as well. My perception of this, after the past three weeks, has changed severely.  I can no longer complain because my phone and my ipad cannot do what my laptop can do. Neither can I complain because my laptop cannot do what the other two divices can do. And then, of course, together with the "Smart TV" I have to realize that we live in a Four-Screen world.  And that, therefore, the learning that we expect our learners to do, should become four-screen learning.  And where does that leave paper and pencil?

Nicholas Clarke and Karel Bakker wowed us with the amazing digital repository of Architecture that they have created for Pretoria.  I immediately followed up with Andre van Graan, and we will be continuing along these lines for Cape Town. And now that I know about Geocaching - the mind boggles.

Dolf Jordaan showed UP's very impressive moble app - which I have now downloaded.  I wonder if we have a CPUT mobile app?  Interestingly, though, the student feedback on the APP store, shows that what UP gives, and what students want - are still not all that well aligned. Yet, is is an amazing app. Well done, Dolf.

Tim Walter of Nashua Mobile and Bryan Nelson of Google   presented some futuristic stuff that is available now.  I am dying to try Google Hangouts, for instance. 

So now I have to check out of the hotel and I have only reported on ONE.  Thus, rename this post Part 1 and hope that ONE DAY I might report on the Nicosia one.

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