NMC Summer Conference 2012 Notes

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The New Media Consortium always hosts a great summer conference, and this year was no exception. I think it's the combination of education technologists, learning designers, librarians, and artists that makes this conference unique. The conference setting was the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA.

The opening keynote was by Joichi "Joey" Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab. In his own words, he "is a man interested in everything." Read his blog at http://joi.ito.com/ and you'll probably agree.


Like other keynotes I've seen the past year, Joey is concerned with a lack of creativity "out there." He believes we have created a system that makes us think we are less creative than we are. Add to that the Internet has changed the world from set complex processes with sequential steps into a web of interconnections where processes emerge as needed in a decentralized way. Small pieces, loosely joined. We are in a state of just trying things to see what happens, as opposed to carefully planning everything before execution.

This made me ponder, is development of instruction going the same way? What role, then, does the learner play in the dev. of instructions? Can we design things in a way that they can be used in ways we didn't anticipate?

It's not just the web that is changing, it's the lowering cost of developing physical products that fosters risk, trial, experimentation, and new stuff.

Here's Joey's list on how things are changing:

Now -> Then
Resilience->  Strength
Pull ->  Push
Compass ->  Maps
Practice ->  Theory
Disobedience (respectful) ->  Compliance
Crowds ->  Experts
Learning ->  Education

It's pretty amazing how the simple change of one word to another has profound effects on how we view the landscape of education. From experts to crowds is a great example. I've blogged before about the power of the mass mind. As more and more well-respected leaders allude to that, I'm convinced I'm on the right track. Lone experts won't solve the problems of today, but crowds will.

My presentation was titled "20+ Ways to Add Game-like Elements to Your Learning Designs." I had a packed room; they even had to bring in extra chairs. Everyone wants my slides from the presentation, so word to the wise: Always have your presentation online before you present and just announce how to get it at the end of the presentation. Now I have 45 hand-written emails to whom I need to send the link. Auughh!


I also co-presented a poster with Emily Rimland from the PSU Libraries on a mini-game the Educational Gaming Commons developed with her for use in her classes on optimizing your web searches. Titled "Smoke that Search," the mini-game added some team competition elements to an otherwise standard lecture. Emily plans on using the mini-game for future runs of her class. The poster was well received and many folks took the instructions with them so they can try it with their students. Click on the image below to view a larger version.

BTW - The cloud in the middle is where we projected the LionSearch search engine to demo the mini-game.

I won't bore you will individual session details. Suffice it to say there wasn't one I didn't appreciate, and you can visit http://nmc.org for details on most of the conference.

One final thought was on the mini-plenaries run for the first time at this conference. Instead of giving one person an hour, they gave four people 15 minutes back to back. This was great! The talk was focused, and if someone was talking on a subject you found less than thrilling, it was quickly over. A nice format we should consider for our offerings in future TLT events. 'Nuff said.

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