The sun sets on our successful e-learning conference

Our Learning Futures Festival 2011, entitled Follow the Sun, was a 48 hour global e-learning conference that was co-hosted by the Australian Digital Futures Institute and presented consecutively from three countries: UK (Leicester), USA (Seattle) and Australia (Toowoomba).

Screenshot of Adobe Connect 8
Terry Anderson delivering his keynote during North America Day 1

Watch the recording

The conference had over 280 delegates and speakers from more than 25 countries. Keynotes, papers, workshops and debates were streamed through the online conferencing platform Adobe Connect 8, provided by sponsors CollaborATE UK

Screenshot of debate about the lecture

With Gabi moderating, Donald Clark, Jim Morrison and Stephen Downes debate the usefulness of the traditional lecture in higher education during North America Day 2

Watch the recording of Donald Clark and Jim Morrison

Watch the recording of Stephen Downes

Events were also held in the 3D environment of Second Life. These sessions were beamed – with full sound capability – into the Adobe Connect platform by sponsors Let’s Talk Online. This allowed delegates who were new to Second Life to see the environment in real time and engage through transferred text chat with the avatar delegates.

Screenshot of Second Life projected into Adobe Connect
Scott Diener looks at virtual worlds during Australia Day 1

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The conference Moodle site for delegates was hosted by USQ Communities (University of Southern Queensland, Australia). This site hosted a successful gallery of posters submitted by delegates, and gave delegates the opportunity to engage in asynchronous discussion around the sessions.

More than 25 hours of live events were generated by Follow the Sun. As well as the very significant financial savings and a tiny carbon footprint, a key advantage of this kind of online conferencing is the ability to record all streamed events.

Within two-and-a-half hours of the conference finishing, the recordings of all sessions were made available on the festival’s public site:

We worked very hard to give our delegates an enriching experience, and are very grateful for their appreciative comments, which included the following:

“I found the conference an eye opener and I want to be in the frontline in being a practitioner and champion of the power of e-learning in my career as a teacher and have decided to proceed to study for Masters degree in e-learning. I hope to integrate these trends in e-learning in creating powerful and rich environment to learn almost anything that is simple or complex.”

“I heard about these conferences last year when visiting the BDRA. Despite the obvious excitement people felt I had no idea just how fantastic it could be. This has been extraordinary and probably the best single experience in my 10 years in HE. So much breadth and depth and such a sense of connectedness. Congrat’s to all for conceiving and delivering this event. I’ll spend the next 6 months processing it and pointing our people to the content.”

[On Twitter] “@lff11 The technical aspects were handled expertly and the level of engagement impressive. Well done one and all you rock! Bring on lff12”

“I was particularly impressed by the programme and how you and the moderators succeeded in drawing in farflung contributors. All in all, LFF was a credit to all involved.”

“The conference was fantastic!”

The Media Zoo
PhD students Brenda and Ali (with Natalia in Denmark and Tony in Canada) deliver their paper from the Media Zoo during UK Day 2

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I plan to blog in greater detail in the coming months about how this innovative and exciting conference was planned and executed.

Simon Kear

Keeper of the Media Zoo

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