I often go to educational conferences and bits and pieces click with my interests, maybe a gem here or there – other times I walk away a bit frustrated. This past week in the Roland Levinsky building on the campus of Plymouth University, I gained something from every single PELeCON session I attended, and even the ones I didn’t. The community associated with PELeCON was fervently engaged in curating and sharing what was happening in each concurrent session. (Special hat tip to Oliver Quinnlan‘s incredible liveblogging workflow.) Though it was difficult to decide which concurrent session to attend, you could check #pelc12 on twitter, or, due to the intimate size of the conference, go to the presenter and chat with them over cream tea during a break.
I often get quite frustrated (and vocal) at conferences when the organizers ignore issues of gender and balance in the voices they support as the “highlighted” or “keynote” speakers. Just as I’m vocal when it doesn’t happen, I am overjoyed to be vocal when it does – BRAVO Steve Wheeler et al. The diversity of voices (and not just in the gender sense) was tremendously refreshing. Never once did I feel an imbalance of voice. We heard from all sides of the educational landscape, from multiple perspectives and lenses: David Mitchell, on the ground, making such a difference in the lives of his students, Alec Couros eloquently promoting open education, Simon Finch leading a revolution, Helen Keegan taking ultimate risks, and Keri Facer’s incredible insights into the future. All of the keynote speakers explicitly and thoughtfully addressed issues of ethics in education (which are often complicated by technologies.) Ethical discussions are all too often left as a separate conversation, if discussed at all.
Impassioned, well-reasoned, well-researched practitioners from across the spectrum gathered in the Roland Levinsky building to have intense important conversations about learning. It may also be one of the first conferences that exemplified what I believe is “true” educational technology integration. The technologies discussed and presented were seamlessly integrated into presentations along with pedagogy and practice – not a clunky side car add-on.
I know often after conferences it is natural to be effuse with praise, but honestly, PELeCON has pushed my own thinking in new directions and will shape my future practice and research. It was an honor to present and I can only hope that I returned a fraction of the inspiration I gained back to my fellow attendees during my session.