My friend and collaborator Len Webster has just returned from the biennial Cambridge Conference, and he’s declared that it was the best ever. No, not just the best Cambridge Conference, but the best conference he’s attended, full stop. And that is high praise indeed, as he’s a pretty dedicated conference junkie (please excuse the snide aside, Len!).
Apparently the mixture was just right, in terms of participant numbers and geographical spread, focus, arrangements,sessions, group work, papers, keynotes, the weather (England in October?!) and that intangible collegial/collaborative/convivial atmosphere that just a few conference achieve – it seems this one had it in spades.
You can peruse the papers, available as a collection from the conference website as a PDF document. The goodly mix of people and papers is readily apparent, with more unknown (to me, anyway) than known (great to see ‘old hands’ such as Bruce King presenting, along with Helen Lentell still contributing in her lively, forthright style!) authors.
The Cambridge Conference has always enjoyed a good reputation, and unfortunately I’ve managed to attend only once, that being the eighth in 1999 (Learning and Teaching with New Technologies). Yes, it was great, with some memorable moments, including David Sewart’s jaw-dropping after dinner speech, which was interlaced with none-too-subtle barbs aimed squarely at a certain UKOU Vice Chancellor. I seem to remember I have a picture somewhere of myself and Mick Campion sitting in chairs in a fireplace (yes, a BIG one) in Madingley Hall.
Getting back to the 2009 event, which carried the theme Supporting learning in the digital age: rethinking inclusion, pedagogy and quality, Len was also excited about the discovery of Cloudworks, about which neither of us was previously aware. It was introduced by one of the keynote speakers, Gráinne Conole, who is also on the team from the IET at the UKOU who is developing Cloudworks (along with Martin Weller, a link to whose blog you’ll see at the side).
Extolling its virtues as we luxuriated with coffee and muffins (Melbourne has the best coffee in the world, btw, and there’s nothing quite like a fresh raspberry and white chocolate muffin), Len inspired me to visit the site and sign up. Cloudworks is a “social networking site for finding, sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs”. And on first glance it’s a beauty, replete with fascinating resources and opportunities to interact with like-minded ODl professionals.
Try it yourself, and have a float around the ‘Clouds’, or join a debate. You are all but certain to find something to inspire/inform you – as she’s a major contributor, you can start with Gráinne Conole’s Cloudworks page (or that of the aforesaid Martin Weller), where you’ll find more than enough to keep you occupied. You won’t be disappointed, as they say …