There are only 36 days left until our biggest event of the year, our annual conference. This year’s event, titled The Future Just Happened? Technology Innovation in Universities and Colleges, will be held again at the National College for School Leadership in Nottingham and promises to be a fascinating couple of days.
The conference title is inspired by Michael Lewis’s 2001 book, Next: The Future Just Happened, which predicted the massive impact that technology and the internet would have on every aspect of our lives. Ten years on many of his predictions have become a reality. Meanwhile 2012 will be a year of unprecedented change in the way that higher education in the UK is funded. For the first time students (especially in England) will be funding their own way through university taking out loans of up to £27,000 for a three year degree. This marketization of higher education will certainly have a profound effect on the HE landscape over the next few years; an interesting backdrop then for this year’s conference.
The keynotes for the conference will reflect on these themes of technology innovation and institutional change. Ian Hughes Metaverse Evangelist, TV presenter and Director of Feeding Edge Ltd opens the conference by looking towards the technologies emerging in the next few years. This year’s conference is immediately preceded by the IMS quarterly meeting and Rob Abel, IMS Chief Executive Officer will consider the role that interoperability standards play in technology development. In closing the conference Mark Stubbs Head of Learning and Research Technologies Manchester Metropolitan University, will respond to a challenge from the 2007 CETIS conference to deliver better information systems to support learning and teaching in 2012 by describing the new MMU core+ virtual learning environment which has been rolled out to 35,000 users.
As well as the keynotes a CETIS staff are running ten parallel sessions over the two days. Two sessions (a codebash on day 1 and demonstration session on day2) will focus on the Question and Test Interoperability 2.1 specification which is nearing final release. Student retention is becoming increasingly important for institutions and a session on using data to improve student retention will be a popular choice. The Thwarted or Embedded session will attempt to determine the key factors which determine whether technology is adopted by organisations. JISC has is now working in partnership with the ROLE project to develop an educational app store, and there is a session on day 1 to help define requirements, use cases and contribution to this work. The Learning Registry session will report on another new initiative from the US which will investigate how social activity around online educational content can be captured and fed back to users, creators and publishers.
Looking to the future the Emerging Reality session on day two will imagine what new learning organisations might emerge as funding conditions change. The idea of open badges emerged as a hot topic in 2011, and there will be a parallel session to discuss whether it is an approach that could work in education. Analytics is also becoming more important as we struggle to get a grip on how learners behave online, the Social Network Analysis will look at some of the latest tools and techniques. And if none of the above appeals there is (back by popular demand) an open mic session where delegates have 10 minutes to hold forth on a subject close to their hearts.
A packed programme then, and if this hasn’t yet whetted your appetite maybe a browse through reports from our previous conferences will.