Found: spirit of transformation

People who have heard me speak at conferences and the like know that I’m always banging on about truly believing that, as educators and technologists, our era – NOW – is one of the most wondrous and exciting that has ever occurred in the history of the 1000 years (at least) of formal education.

We have access to online resources for learning and teaching that those who came before us could never have imagined. We have greater numbers and more motivated scholars sitting at our feet (computers) than, say, 50 years ago anyone would have been thought possible. We are in freely available networks of professionals and support that offer us peer and expert engagement.

In other places and times, people have fought and died for nothing less.

And we constantly cross bridges from impossible to possible.

Yep, of course it costs – money, time, resources, our ongoing commitment and much of our lives…, and hence the choice of title this year’s (2009) Association of Learning Technologies conference, last week in Manchester: In Dreams Begins Responsibility.

I was co-chair of the conference, with Prof Tom Boyle, and had the time of my life. For me, everyone presenting, exhibiting, taking part, twittering, conversing – whatever – caught the spirit and the point of the title.

Each person I heard speak (in many different roles and contexts) knew that indication of value for learning is needed for substantial achievement to follow – especially associated with new technology – and that evidence can take many usable forms. And from that comes the clarity to make context- sensitive choices leading to real sustainable change for the better.

For me seeing true conferencing, amazing open knowledge exchange happen in front of me over several days convinces me that we are indeed at a watershed, a tipping point towards educational transformation, that will not be hijacked by the ups and downs of funding, league tables, political nuances and the rest that the 2nd decade of the 21st century has yet to chuck at all of us in Higher and Further Ed.

If you weren’t there last week – it’s not too late! Take your dream, and take responsibility! And ALT-C happens every year and there are many opportunities to engage with others to achieve this complex transformation on and off line. You can access some of the excellent speeches at http://elluminate.alt.ac.uk/.

If not us now, then who and when?

Gilly Salmon

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