From the 30th November to the 2nd December, I was lucky enough to go to Berlin to present for the Online Educa Conference. When I say lucky, I really mean it — I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people and discuss many interesting issues and ideas. I also presented as part of the conference on the DEVELOP project and was able to demonstrate what we had managed to achieve with the e-Portfolio Templates widget, show some of the work we are currently trying to finish for the e-Portfolio Feedback widget (about which more soon), and report on the feedback we had received from staff and students.
The presentation was sandwiched between two others — one by Thomas Strasser (Vienna University of Education, Austria) on his e-portfolio experiences with Mahara, the other by Iolanda Bernabé Muñoz (Universitat Jaume I, Spain) on the use of e-portfolios for developing emotional competencies. (You can see some great sketch summaries of their talks by Linda Saukko-Rauto here and here.) I have to admit that both presenters made me a little nervous as they were presenting on the use of e-portfolio technology for very sophisticated outcomes whereas, by contrast, I felt as though the story I had to tell was simply about getting the Blackboard tool to work for us and about simply making the technology more about help and less of a hindrance. However, my presentation seemed to be fairly well received and I think some in the audience appreciated a perspective on a struggle with proprietary software.
I have uploaded the slides for the presentation here. (For some reason, I still seem unable to embed slides from Slideshare on this blog…)
They contain a lot of screenshots and as a result I didn’t actually use them much; the slides were a back-up in case I couldn’t get the videos to work. For the videos I used the same that I played for the JISC webinar back on the 18th November. I include the links again here for convenience:
I tried to be honest about what felt to me like our humble achievements when compared to the others and managed to make people laugh a little too which is always a nice thing to be able to do. I was also glad to be able to make connections with the presentation Thomas made before mine as he talked about the different types and uses of e-portfolios in relation to his own work with students. I hope to be able to take what I got from the conference and follow up on the various connections that were made — all too often, in my experience, conferences provide great opportunities to network, discuss and develop ideas in a space away from the usual working environment, only for the return to that environment and its various demands to quash any chance of those ideas making any kind of real impact. Reflecting on previous experiences, I hope that I am able to keep some of the discussions I had there open and give those ideas some time to breathe and grow.