This was my second year at the conference formerly known as the Plymouth e-Learning Conference. It’s now the Plymouth Enhanced Learning Conference, which allows for the rather nice shortened name of ‘PELeCON’. See what they did there?
Steve Wheeler, the conference chair, calls the conference ‘a big party with his mates’. Certainly a good chunk of my Twitter network was there, including people like Alec Couros from Canada and Linda Castaneda from Spain. It’s great meeting face-to-face people whom you’ve only ever previously interacted with online.
I didn’t manage to attend the whole conference, mostly due to travel logistics. Newcastle to Plymouth is over seven hours each way on the train, so I was constrained by flights from Exeter. I did, however, manage to catch the Student Voice Technology Showcase on Wednesday afternoon and Simon Finch’s keynote. The former was a really nice example of confident young people being able to present eloquently about their technology use. The latter was a discursive and impassioned plea by a somewhat angry Simon to change the education system. I enjoyed both.
Wednesday evening involved catching up with Alec Couros and Linda Castaneda before heading off to the pub with Mark Power and others to watch the Chelsea vs. Barcelona match. I headed off at half-time to change my presentation for Thursday in the light of a JISC Developing Digital Literacies baseline synthesis report from Helen Beetham.
Conferences can often be a bit patchy in the quality of presentations and workshops provided. PELeCON on Thursday, however, has to be the longest run of enjoyable presentations I’ve seen in a row. First came Alec Couros’ keynote. There is no way I can do justice to the amount of stuff he managed to cover. Suffice to say that my Firefox web browser crashed with the amount of media I was opening in new tabs as he spoke! Truly awesome.
Cheekily, I’m including my presentation in this run of enjoyable presentations, mainly because I do enjoy presenting. I was informing delegates about the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme. Resources can be found on the JISC e-Learning programmes blog. Pat Parslow also presented from a JISC project point of view, including a rap about digital literacies that I wish I could include here!
Next up was Helen Keegan‘s ‘Spotlight’ (mini keynote) session. Helen had told me about what she did with her Media students last year and the Alternate Reality Game she played with them (without their knowledge!) It was great, however, to see the whole story about just how enthusiastic they (and she) got about the whole thing.
On Thursday afternoon I was delighted to get a chance to see Catherine Cronin speak about the work she’s been doing on Digital identity, privacy and authenticity with her distance learning students. I really liked the Connect, Do, Share motif that ran through her presentation.
Finally came Keri Facer‘s keynote. I’m a big fan of Keri’s work and ran a workshop with her on issues similar to those she presented at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in January. Not only did she manage to present clear and cogent arguments why dystopian futures are as likely as ‘business as usual’, but provided steps to avoid both. Great stuff. If you haven’t read her book Learning Futures, then you definitely should.
In the evening I attended the conference dinner at the Glassblowing House in Plymouth. After talking to Steve Bunce and Theo Kuechel over rum punch, I spent most of the rest of the evening talking to Catherine Cronin about her presentation and the ILTA keynote I’m giving next month.
All in all, I can heartily recommend that if you’ve never been to PELeCON that you get yourself to Plymouth for #PELC13. It’s a fantastic conference with inspiring people.