Last week Jeho Park and I both attended the ELI 2012 Conference in Austin, TX. ELI stands for the Educase Learning Initiative and is the educational technology arm of Educause. Their annual conference is an opportunity for educational technologists, librarians, CIOs, faculty, and students to get together and talk about new and emerging technologies, new initiatives on supporting teaching and learning, and other topics. This year ELI sponsored a special Roundtable on Learning Analytics which I attended. The Roundtable consisted of 20 participants who got together for a special session on each of the three days of the conference. In addition to several introductory presentations on leadership and leading change and on the field of learning analytics, there were also presentations by ELI members who have implemented learning analytics on their campuses. One of the presenters was Dr. John Fritz from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He presented on a tool called “Check My Activity” that they developed for their instance of Blackboard. Dr. Fritz will be presenting via videoconference at A Bite of Learning on March 19th so be sure to attend if you’d like to learn more. Most of the learning analytics tools focus on identifying students who are struggling in order to provide appropriate interventions.
Jeho and I also presented at an Innovation Showcase Session on our “A Bite of Learning” lunchtime speaker series. The Innovation Showcase Session consists of three 15-minute presentations followed by breakout discussion groups. Our presentation focused on the lessons we’ve learned over the past two years in organizing and managing a successful speaker series. Our session was well received and the attendees seemed to appreciate the practical suggestions and advice that we offered. I also facilitated a “Learning Circle” on accessibility. This is not a topic I know a lot about, but fortunately there were some experts in the group who knew quite a lot so we had a lively and informative discussion. A trademark of the annual ELI conference is their emphasis on trying out new formats for presentations. In addition to regular sessions and the Innovation Showcase Sessions and Learning Circles, there were also several debate/discussion panels, an ELI game, and “Experience IT Sessions” where participants could try out different technologies.
One of the highlights of the ELI conference is the annual presentation of the Horizon Report. The Horizon Report describes emerging technologies that are expected to have an impact on education over the next five years. This year the report focused on mobile apps, tablet computing, game-based learning, learning analytics, gesture-based computing, and the “Internet of Things.” The Horizon Report is published by the New Media Consortium and ELI. You can read the full report by downloading the PDF at http://www.educause.edu/Resources/2012HorizonReport/246056.
Jeho and I had a very rewarding conference experience, as well as some truly excellent Texas BBQ, so feel free to ask us about some of the other sessions we attended.