Future of Technology in Education (FOTE09) morning report

Attended the FOTE09 event today at the Royal Geographical Society. The first session on Cloud Computing was opened by Paul Miller. Nice slides with some good questions and lots of people are following the event on Twitter. He asked us whether cloud computing was green, cheap, and looked at various definitions of what it might be. Some people are suggesting this concept it even more vague than web 2.0 but JISC now have various funding calls in this area.

Amazon apparently also give out funding which could be interesting, particularly after hearing about the Kindle project a few weeks ago at Princeton. Next up was Simone Brunozzi from Amazon – talking about security and cloud computing – he first up asked us how many of us buy from Amazon – which most of us clearly do! I actually started following the hash tag in Twitter for the event during the conference and someone introduced me to using TweetChat which was great. He was followed by Ray Fleming from Microsoft and then Pauline Yau from Huddle.net who are sponsoring the drinks later. Ray talked about IP issues associated with using cloud computing – how do you keep things confidential in an organisation if everyone is using Twitter? We ended with some interesting questions, one about how do we advise students about where they should store their data – apparently schools are going to be doing this. Presumably quite a few of our teachers will need some digital literacy classes before they do this? Someone else asked about whether outsourcing to these big companies – isn’t that just HE selling itself to the devil.
After the coffee break, the first speaker was Bill Ashraf from Sussex University. He talked about how students expect to get things for free, but dealing with academics is herding cats so IT in HE is a tricky business. Bill went on to discuss Chris Anderson’s idea of the ‘Long Tail’ and the Gartner Hyper curve but I struggled to follow his point other than repeating quite a lot I’ve heard at learning technology event over the past 5 years. He made the point that technology needs to be easy and referred to some work on e-learning 2020, sadly (or thankfully) not the CLT’s recent efforts in this area though but an offering from MMU students which made quite a few similar points to our video. Robert Moores from Leeds Met talked about Google Apps one year on – which apparently has been a big success. They were using the e-mail and calendar and piloted it with 3000 students and plan to use Postini and YouTubeEDU. He was followed by James Ballard from ULCC talking about using repositories as VLEs and integration between Moodle and repositories. I like the idea of the repository API in Moodle 2.0 which separates content from delivery and allows integration with tools such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube. Potentially this could avoid many copyright issues as well! James then went on to look at whether this application might encourage tutors to deposit in an institutional repository. Finally I sit in a room where someone talks about repositories and refers to the whole spectrum of different types repositories out there – I remember back in 2006 when librarians and learning technologists meant very different things when they used this term. Richard Davis continued the presentation and even referred to managing readings scanned under the CLA Licence in a repository – he certainly was talking my language now! We finished the morning session with a debate about cloud computing – chaired by Tim Marshall from JANET.

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