Monday, September 22, 2008


Last week, I attented the ECTEL conference in Maastricht, the Netherlands. I presented there our paper "ALOA: A Web Services Driven Framework for Automatic Learning Object Annotation" (slides are available on Slideshare, ALOA can be tested here) within a Firehose session. Here how it works, as described by the conference organizers:

The FireHose format aims to make sessions more interactive than standard paper sessions. There are 4 to 5 presentations in each FireHose session and the session last for 90 minutes. The presenters prepare a poster and/or a demo on their laptop and/or any kind of material that supports their presentations as well as a 5 minutes introductory talk that they give to the session chair just before the session with an USB stick. The session chair ask each presenter to give a 5 minutes talk with the beamer. It's really 5 minutes: the goals, the method and one example of result. Just enough for participants to decide if they want to know more. When the introductory round is finished, the presenters move to their poster/table and attendees join one of the presenters for a 15 minutes period for a longer presentation and small group discussions. After 15 minutes, the session chair shouts "ROTATE" and attendees move to another table in the room.

I'm not sure if this format has been applied elsewhere, but it was indeed an excellent idea. From my experience, it's much better that the normal presentation format where you talk for some time and then you just get a couple of questions from the audience. The FireHose format enables much more interaction and lively discussions with almost everyone in the audience.

I also attended the MUPPLE workshop which was indeed a very successful event, very well organized by my dear friends Fridolin Wild and Matthias Palmer. I met great people there working on PLE issues. Among others, I much enjoyed the talks by Tony Hirst who talked about flexible learning environments and used my PLE diagram as an example in his slides, Felix Mödritscher who introduced LISL as a new scripting language to define activities within a PLE, Hannes Ebner who talked about metadata management, Scott Wilson who talked about widget integration and Graham Attwell who talked about mashup PLEs. I know Scott and Graham from their blogs, and it was a great pleasure for me to finally meet them in person there. In case you're wondering whether Scott and Graham are as good as the image that you can build of them from the readings of their blogs and scientific publications, here's the answer: NO, they're better. I learned many things from them during the workshop. We had in the end a great discussion round about challenges and future directions in PLE research. I talked about PLEF; a conceptual framework that can support learners in taking control over their learning activities by creating and managing their own PLEs. Will write more about this framework in a later post.

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