In the first keynote, Jan Herrington gave an enthusiastic and engaging presentation on ‘Blended learning and the new technologies: Authentic learning using powerful cognitive tools’.
According to Herrington (along with Herrington, Tony, presumably a close relative, in Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education), the nine characteristics of authentic learning are:
1. authentic contexts
2. authentic activities/tasks
3. access to expert performance
4. multiple roles/perspectives
5. collaborative knowledge construction
8. coaching and scaffolding
9. authentic assessment
Sitting in the audience, my simple mind surmised that it was really only the first two and the last characteristic that were essential to authentic learning. All the other six, though highly desirable, are not absolutely necessarily. One or more may even be missing in a learning environment that we could still classify as authentic. And there may well be other characteristics that others would deem at least worthy of consideration to add to the list.
Armed with this stunning revelation, I waited for question time, ready to pounce. Imagine my chagrin when there wasn’t enough time for Q&A at the conclusion of the talk! Naturally I took the opportunity during a tea break to accost Jan with my observation, and enjoyed a pleasant and agreeable interchange on the notion (no, she didn’t wildly disagree).
As for the rest of the conference (it’s now a week or so later and I’m finally finishing this blog post – blame the flu), there were two other keynotes, one from Peter Looms on ‘Blended learning: for some or all?’ (yes, addressing accessibility issues) and the other (‘Blended learning: An organizational imperative’) by an old friend of distance education, Jim Taylor.
What was I doing there? Well, I was kindly invited to do a workshop (along with another not-quite-so-old friend, Ross Vermeer) – ‘Virtual Communities: Beginning Blogging’ – which as it turned out was quite well-attended, and it was pleasing to see all participants manage to set up and start to play with their own blogs. And my final task was to be a judge for the e-Innovation in Education Award Competition, an honour which I fulfilled dutifully along with my fellow adjudicators.
Watch out for next year’s conference in Singapore!