ECEL 2013

Brief report of the European Conference on ELearning (ECEL) 2013

This well established research conference brought together delegates from 15 countries including not only Europe but also Japan and South Africa.

Keynote speakers were Prof Steven Warburton from University of Surrey (Head of Department of. Technology Enhanced Learning) who spoke on Uncertain futures: adapting to rapid change through patterns and analytics and Dr Viktor Doerfler, Director of the Management Development Programme, Management Science Department, University of Strathclyde Business School who spoke on Passinate Learners: Lifelong learners in Flux. Their presentations can be found on the ECEL 2013 website at

Major themes from my perspective at this year’s conference, which included a range of case studies as well as empirical research mostly focused on Higher Education, were:

– Developing ideas about digital literacy, 
– Ways in which digital and social media were being incorporated into modules, frequently bypassing institutional Virtual Learning Environments
– The ubiquity of access between students and faculty – “fight for the right to be unavailable” Eriksen 2001
– Webconferencing usage in learning on blended/hybrid and fully online teaching eg Adobe Connect
– E-portfolios in relation to assessment, both formative and summative as well as for employability and their close relationship with student-friendly SNS such as Facebook etc.
– Breaking the myth about Wikipedia, which research shows is very widely used and trusted by academics who continue to deny to their peers and students that they use it!
– Student – staff interaction in classes achieved through polling – various software but related to ideas about the flipped classroom and peer teaching, ie maximising information transmission via technology and maximising collaboration, engagement and learning activity in class rather than passive lecturing.
– Barriers to adoption of technologies including institutional and personal belief barriers, but also the need for more design thinking in course and module development
– The need to develop, coach and professionalise faculty so that they could make informed choices about tech tools, when and when not to design them into learning practices. 
– Interesting early research on universities’ widespread use of social media, mainly for marketing but also for learning, where the dominant commercial paradigm of SNS can conflict with HE objectives.
– Models regularly mentioned included Garrison, Anderson and Archer (cognitive, social and teaching presence), TPAK (Koehler and Mishra 2005), UTAUT re adoption and transfer of technologies.
– Focus on constructionist theory (Papert) for interaction and engagement, in particular looking for authentic, situated or problem based learning which can use technologies to stimulate interest and reflection. Association of cognitivist and behavioural approaches for initial scaffolding only eg level four students.

Sue G 1/11/13

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