Monday, 3 September 2012

Emerging Learning Technologies; An Open Source Approach

Well, back from Learn X since Saturday morning and it seems like I've almost caught up to where I was before I embarked upon the Learn X journey!

If all you wanted was my Prezi link it's here.. Emerging Technologies; An Open Source Approach

I've seen some interesting points of view about what was learned (or not) and who was interesting (or not) and sales pitches (did I fall into that category?), and as usual I partially agree and partially disagree. One of the key trends I see is that people were a little disappointed at two things; the knowledge of many 'peers' and the amount of advertising.

Taking things in reverse order to be funky, I can't help but think it's a little naive that we want a sponsored event but we don't want to see the sponsors or hear what they say? I heard one suggestion that we should essentially segregate them off from the participants, now for any event organiser that would just about be the nail in the coffin. Sure, you need to vet your speakers and make sure people have something beyond a simple sales pitch, but surely most people are smart enough to pick through and disregard that. The alternative may be that people don't sponsor the event, but keynotes will probably be even more commercially focused then as it may be the only way to get something back financially. I actually like the stands and speaking to people; I think it's great to follow up on people who have spoken or are giving sessions and often more interesting than talking to some of the peers you came with. I very quickly work out who is worth talking to and who is.. well, those that don't do anything for me.

On the second one it's quite ironic in a way. If you want to be a leader in your field it's part of the necessity of that to out-grow your peers and forge on ahead. Perhaps, one should take it as a compliment that you know more about things than some others, perhaps it's a great opportunity to share what you know and perhaps you just spoke to the wrong people.  I like to seek out people who challenge my thinking, and that sometimes is hard to find, but it's always about the people and that's even more important when you work in elearning.  Then again it was probably easier for me than most as I mostly work out of my home office and just plain don't get out that much (yes, I know it shows).

On giving my keynote, that was good fun on the whole. I know it was probably a bit vanilla for a deep expert in Open Source, but with the number of people there I felt it necessary to pitch it somewhere that the majority of people could follow easily.

I continue to hear a great amount of criticism leveled at Moodle (and it's distributions) but I think Moodle is the ultimate clay system. The prettier LMSs always seem so very simple but limiting, and I think Totara is way ahead of most other offerings I've seen and used. Lastly on that, there were questions about branding your Totara/Moodle. I even saw one comment that suggested you needed a team of graphic artists and designers to make it work properly! Totara 2 has a pretty adequate self-design mode, and many Totara themes are put in place for around $3k and can look pretty slick. Sure you can spend more, but that's what Open Source is all about - choice as to how you spend your money! Finally, here's the link to the Prezi I used for the keynote.. hope it's of use to you!