Reflections on EdTech 2015

At the end of May over 200 Irish educators gathered at the University of Limerick for this year’s Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) Conference – EdTech 2015. It was pleasing to see so many people at the conference as current efforts to build digital capacity, promote institutional collaboration, and support new models of teaching and learning, depends to a large extent on the health, vibrancy and level of activity of our professional bodies. While it is important for us to contribute to major European and international communities in the field this should not be at the expense of supporting local, grass-root, professional learning opportunities.

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The National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) is committed to supporting the work of ILTA, as evidenced by our successful partnership in developing and launching Ireland’s first Horizon Report for Higher Education. A large team of NIDL staff also travelled to Limerick in order to attend and contribute to this year’s conference. Notably, our people were presenters or co-presenters of 14 conference papers. Several other DCU staff and colleagues in our linked College also contributed to the conference over the two days with a variety of papers, posters and/or Gásta presentations.

We have embedded links to some of our presentation slides in this posting and the brief personal reflections on the conference that follow from Dr Mark Glynn.

Reflections from Mark Glynn…

There are numerous conferences on my radar every year with the ILTA “EdTech” conference always an interesting one to attend – one which I try to never miss. This year there seems to be more conferences than ever — or maybe just more that I have been aware of in the past — so I have become more fussy and discerning about which conferences I choose to attend. So why did EdTech make my list?

  • First and foremost it is an Irish conference bringing Irish educators together – which yields tremendous opportunity for collaboration. It is always exciting to see what our counterparts in other institutions are doing but when they are neighbouring institutions it makes the conference so much more relevant.

  • Second, with over 200 participants and 5 parallel streams there was bound to be several presentations that will be relevant

  • Finally, it is the informal atmosphere of the conference, combined with the openness of participants with respect to their willingness to share

These three factors ensure that EdTech will always appear high on my list. With respect to presentations that stood out for me: top of the list is the launch of the Horizons report. Having been involved with this since the start I was very excited to see the official launch and to quote Larry Johnson, CEO of NMC, “it is a catalyst for conversation”. Helen Beetham’s keynote resonated quite strongly with me too.

The talk from the team based in UL (Liam Murray, James Patton and Geraldine Exton) – “Gamification for education: rants, retorts, rebuttals and refinements” struck a chord with me. The Gasta sessions always throw up some good ideas and the thing that I like most about this format is that if you are not interested in what the current speaker has to say – you just need to wait 5 minutes for the next speaker. Our own Conor Sullivan raised a lot of interest with the use of Google drive for teaching practice.

The final presentation that stood out for me was the Assessment and Feedback presentation given by Lisa O’Regan from Maynooth University on behalf of a larger collaborative team – “Assessment Feedback Practice In First Year using Digital Technologies – A Baseline Review”. This is an interesting project funded by the National Forum with plenty of potential to make a significant contribution to the sector.