#et4online 2013 thoughts, takeaways

This past week I had the pleasure of attending Sloan-C’ s Emerging Technologies for Online Learning in Las Vegas Nevada. As always in a conference with so many interesting sessions and a multitude of ideas it takes a while to begin to distill and make meaning out of the experiences. These are the few sessions that stood out to me.

The first session I attended was: The Student Centered iPad Classroom by @samgliksman

waferbaby / People Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

Most of the tools we examined were already familiar to me. The only new tool I discovered was Storyrobe. However I did discover new and creative ways to use apps like Evernote. My takeaways on using iPads in education from this session are:

  • Dont focus on the device rather pay attention to the device’s affordances.
  • Tablets like the ipad should be used to create not just consume content
  • Integration of new tools should cause us to question our practice/pedagogy
Mario vs. Super Luigi (316/365)
JD Hancock / Foter.com / CC BY

 The second session was by Jason Drysdale titled: Hiding the Broccoli: Why Gamification can’t replace Games-Based Learning

Jason broke down games in terms of 3 distinct layers

Mechanics (objectives, rules),

Dynamics (evaluation/assessment, how player interacts with rules) and

Aesthetics (look & feel) and differentiated between gamification and games based learning. Gamification according to him is basically a motivational system used to increase student engagement, for example turning a spelling or math test into a game. On the other hand game based learning is a immersive learning experience. What stood out for me was him describing the current use of gamification as promoting competition as opposed to collaboration. According to him in order to use games effectively we need to pay apply gaming principles to all three gaming layers.

While building or applying gamification to online learning might be a daunting task even with the aid of free game creators like game-o-matic it was interesting that for most of his research he uses existing video games like Assassin’s Creed II to teach Venetian Architecture or Super Mario to teach collaboration skills.

Three things stuck with me from this session:

  • Old gamification design focused on leader boards and badges while promoting competition.
  • New Gamification design might focus on student’s participation and allow student’s to choose their form of participation in learning. The ultimate goal being to promote participation and collaboration
  • It might be possible to repurpose existing video games to teach certain skills.
  • How can we leverage game based engagement for online learning?

The session by Robbie Melton from the Tennessee Board of Regents on Mobilization and emerging trends was basically a smorgasbord of various mobile devices/accessories from prototype mobile devices and finger nail styluses to

DSC01820-001_610x437 (1)virtual laser projection keyboards. What I found particularly meltoninteresting was the emergence of wearable technology ala Google Glass and Smart Watches and what implications these may have for education. A great resource shared during this session was the Tennesse Board of Regents Emerging Technologies and Mobilization website which has an app resource bank that allows users to search for apps for any device, academic area and education level. Its a great curated resource of apps for various uses.

Another session I enjoyed was by David Wicks @dwicksspu, Jason Rhodes @jrhode and Michelle Pacansky-Brock @brocansky on Emerging Technology and its impact on the future of faculty development. My takeaways:

  • Most centers for teaching face the same questions relating to faculty development such as how do we ensure faculty attend workshops? how do we convince instructors that they need to meet some competencies before teaching online courses? and what does that mean for instructors who teach face-to-face without being asked to show certain competencies
  • There seems to be increasing demands for opening up faculty development spaces using a variety of tools that allow open access.

The keynote session by Steve Wheeler @timbuckteeth wheeler was a collection of ideas related to learning, technology and pedagogy. Slides can be found on slideshare


The plenary session by George Veletsianos @veletsianos Seven Tales of Online Learning was a call to critically examine the use of emerging technology in education. Slides can be found here.

In reflecting on the conference I realize that I’m left with lots of thoughts, ideas and questions…which I guess is a good thing. I look forward to exploring some of the ideas shared.


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