This week I spent 3 days in Cambridge at Wolfson College, which was the college I lived at for a term in 2011 when I was an Arcadia Fellow. This was one of the most amazing few months of my life, as not only did I get to work for 3 months on thinking about how information literacy should be taught in the future, but I got to work with the fabulous Emma Coonan.
I recall being pretty terrified about being away from home and spent most weekends fleeing back to London. But I found Wolfson a friendly, welcoming place and somewhere I immediately felt at home. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the other students and fellows from around the world. I made some fantastic friends during my time there and probably had some of the most memorable breakfast conversations ever. I will never forget the breakfast where I was joined by several international fellows who were staying at Wolfson, and we discussed the fall of the Roman Empire. There was a point I recall saying to the professor from Pakistan and the Malaysian Ambassador for the Lebanon, I think we could do with a PowerPoint with a map on it as we discussed Hadrian’s Wall and some of the Roman sites in the Middle East. I started listening to Radio 4’s Today Programme after I left Wolfson to try to recreate these high brow moments before I start my day. It’s just not the same.
This week the canteen was shut so I spent a lot of time on my own, although I did get to spend some time in the wonderful Library, chatting to the College Librarian Meg Westbury about information and digital literacy, our mutual research interests in online learning and phenomenography. I also went on a wonderful walk to The Orchard Tea Rooms in Grantchester and thought of my dear Brazilian friend, Cris, a journalist who was there for the same time as me and who I used to go walking with. I wandered in the beautiful gardens and spent a lot of time in my room writing and reading.
The purpose of my trip was to try and nail my keynote for ALT-C, which is now in around 3 weeks time. I am so honoured to be invited to keynote this conference, but also slightly terrified as it’s a big conference and one that a lot of learning technologists attend. There was no pressure when I saw the other keynotes I was up against either: Dave White, Donna Lanclos, Josie Fraser, Ian Livingstone and Lia Commissar! I am going to be talking about copyright and e-learning, the subject of my new book, but I really want to make my keynote different to other talks I’ve done before. I started reading Ronan Deazely’s book, Rethinking Copyright while I was away, and have been struck by his writing on what copyright is (and isn’t) and the public domain. So if I can hint a little, then I might be saying something on the history of copyright and on the notion of the public domain. Ronan is the main editor behind the website CopyrightUser, and Chris and I recently wrote the guidance for libraries on this site.
Anyway, mostly what I appreciated while in Cambridge was some perspective on things and some time to concentrate on the subjects I am most interested in. I have spoken before about the importance of finding a place where you can think, and at Wolfson I have definitely found that place, and I was more productive in just three days there than I usually am in a week!