Media and Learning Conference 2011 in Brussels, Belguim

Media and Learning 2012Steven Warburton attended the second Media and Learning conference on 24th to 25th November. This year the conference was held at the impressive headquarters of the Flemish Ministry for Education in Brussels and attracted around 300 participants from across Europe. The Media & Learning conference targets those responsible for creating, promoting and using media in the classroom, on and off campus as well as in training and lifelong learning centres. Of particular note were the morning keynote sessions on both days. These included a view from Peter Adriaenssens (KU Leuven) of early to late childhood brain development from a neuroscientific perspective and the importance of external stimuli in encouraging neuronal pathway generation, as well as highlighting that the plasticity of the brain continues until we enter early adulthood. Connor Galvin (University College Dublin) then spoke persuasively about the problems inherent is seeing ’technology as solution’ as opposed to exploring root pedagogic issues and identified a number of policy spaces for action. He expressed some exasperation that in the age of the digital native, the best we can offer our upcoming digital generation when they come to University is the tiered lecture theatre. Richard Harper (Microsoft Research Cambridge) rounded off the presentations with a neat talk based on a personal research history (at Xerox PARC) interpreted through the lens of SSK (sociology of scientific knowledge). He demonstrated how designers design into technology is not always what the technology end up being used for … his example being a synchronous chat tool that rather than being used for collaborative teamwork became a site for more intimate work flirtations. In the morning on Day 2 we were treated to Pere Arcas (Catalonia Television) who described the pleasure of the story – “where you [developers] see content we [reporters] see a story” – and how they have release a collection of stories as Open Educational Resources that can be broken down into smaller peices and rebuilt. We also were treated to an overview of the inspiring work of Lizbeth Goodman and SmartLab working with body-technology-world interfaces help those sometimes severe disabilities. Overall an excellent conference with many highlights and I look forward to finding to next year’s programme.

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