Snorkle a Turtle at the Plymouth AquariumThe 4th Plymouth e-Learning Conference was an excellent event and for once I made good decisions in choosing which of the many parallel sessions to attend. I’ve not had a good track record recently!

The best learning technology tool I discovered was Marginalia.  It’s an open source annotation tool which can be plugged into Moodle discussion forums.  You can try it out – on it’s own or in this Moodle course.  I don’t have an immediate use for it but it’s always good to have an answer when you hear: it would be great if Moodle could… If you [LSE staff!] are interested in finding out about or using Marginalia please let us know.

There was plenty of discussion over home-made flapjacks in the well-planned E-pedagogy: Emperor’s New Clothes or New Directions? and I thought the format of the session worked really well.  Prior to the session the flapjack baker had elicited thoughts from a wider audience (via Twitter) on “What promotes learning?” resulting in 42 responses.  The session itself was a good mix of presenting, discussion and feeding back as we worked towards how (if) technology changes or enhances learning.  Participants were invited to post an answer online afterwards:  “Does ICT really change what good learning looks like? And if so, how”.  Unlike the pre-session task this has not been answered yet!  I suspect it was never tweeted 😉

I also attended a great hands-on session run by James Clay on Mobile Learning, which James defined very broadly to include: learning using mobile devices; learning while mobile & learning using mobile web technologies.    Or as he summarised – it’s all about the mobility of the learner.  It’s a really important area that we need to start paying more attention to.  I’ve never been big on mobile devices myself but am starting to play now.

The second keynote (video), Social Software, Personal Learning Environments and the Future of Education, given by Graham Attwell revisited the VLE (virtual learning environment) vs PLE (personal learning environment) debate.  If you are new to this one, it is essentially concerns institutionally chosen / hosted / managed systems (such as Moodle at LSE) versus a loose collection of external web tools & services chosen by the individual student or teacher.  I’m going to write about this separately soon so for now I’ll just mention a related session at PELC09.  MeAggregator, a JISC-funded projected, is a tool for teachers & learners to manage their online content & communities, including content provided by institutional systems (e.g the VLE).  It’s not available yet but I’ll be looking out for it.

And finally, a quick mention for an interesting project based at the University of Reading.  This is Me is an Eduserv-funded project on digital identity.  In the session that I attended I discovered that I am the Association of Learning Technology (ALT) Editor which came as a surprise to Frances Bell, the real one!