The PCF3 conference on open and distance learning experimented with a non-standard conference format. Results were mixed as these were complex issues that were being addressed and the delegates came with a wide range of expectations and experience of conference formats. To work well, really slick facilitation is required with a lot of preparation.
Key issues as discussion foci identified by Commonwealth Open Learning:
ï Best Practice
ï Latest developments
ï Emerging issues
Each of the key issues were addressed by groups of delegates with specific interests and the conference format was designed for them to share their experiences in each of the issues identified. I was in the latest development strand and found it interesting how our discussions didnít focus on the technology, as one might expect if the conference was dominated by western delegates, but included the factors identified below:
ï The importance of context in the implementation of any projects
ï The importance of the appropriate use of ICT
ï Partnerships ñ how to fund them from a scale of individuals working together through to international levels
ï Sustainability ñ how to ensure initiatives donít end when the project money runs out! This is interesting from a UK perspective where there is a ëproject industryí in education that thrives on one project following another. Perhaps this is the definition of educational change!
ï Recognising the importance of individuals (views and skills) as being at the heart of good initiatives