Cooking up networks, community and learning environments

I spent the early part of last week at OpenEdTech 2010 in Barcelona. Organised by Eva de Lera from the UOC, this 2 day gathering with 30 international participants, was a truly engaging and thought provoking experience.

Over the years I have seen the cookery book/recipe metaphor used for various purposes. However, Open Tech took it a stage further by actually having us take part in a cooking lesson. Not being the best chef in the world, I was slightly apprehensive beforehand. However, it turns cooking is a great way to create a build a sense of community, breakdown barriers and allow for free, frank and quite often totally unexpected conversations to happen. It’s amazing how much I learned about the Sakai implementation at UC Berkley whilst chopping onions :-)

The theme of the conference was “rethinking the online campus life of the 21st century”. We were challenged to come up with 15 recommendations that could be implemented next week to improve online life for students. The conference blog has a great summary of the activities. As ever, being taken out of one’s environment gives a chance to reflect and share on some of the great work that is being done here in the UK. And it was heartening to see how much interest there was in a range of work that is being funded by JISC including DVLE, Curriculum Delivery and Design and OER. It was also encouraging to see so many people highlighting the need for more open, flexible architectures, which support personalization and integration of formal and informal networks, content and structures.

There was also great positive spirit in the group, which in the current climate is increasingly hard to foster. We had many challenging discussions, but they never slipped into the negative “that’ll never work where I’m from” type. Everyone really wanted to share experiences, processes, content with everyone else. So thanks to Eva and the NMC team for organising and facilitating such a great event. A full report will be produced over the coming months, but you can read/see more at the conference website.