Aberystwyth sunsetThis week I’m attending the 9th annual DIVERSE conference in Aberystwyth. DIVERSE stands for “Developing Innovative Visual Educational Resources for Students Everywhere” and the focus of the conference tends to be on video resources, although it is not entirely limited to that subject.

It has to be said, I was expecting to be subjected to a certain amount of wind and rain, so came prepared with umbrella and raincoat which of course haven’t been out of my bag as the weather has been fantastic (see photo).

Highlights so far include a talk by Mark Childs of Coventry on the subject of students developing a sense of virtual presence when using virtual worlds such as Second Life. Fundamentally, his message was that not a small amount of time needs to be invested in generating such a sense of presence. From his research he also found a correlation between those students that valued their Second Life activities as a learning experience and those that felt a sense of presence when using Second Life. Mark also came up with a couple of good words, my favourite being “cyberdisinhibition”. I don’t think I need to explain its meaning.

I also went to a session presented by Olaf Schulte who was talking about the Opencast project, which intends to develop a completely open source lecture capture system over the course of the next year. It certainly looks an interesting project and I’m keen to see what they come up with. He also mentioned a couple of other projects developing along similar lines that already exist, his own REPLAY project and also one called MediaMosa which I previously hadn’t heard of.

Today’s keynote speaker was Obadiah Greenberg from YouTube who talked a lot about his background setting up a lecture capture system at UC Berkeley and how they used as many distribution platforms as possible to widen the availability of Berkeley lectures. He certainly prompted me to think why aren’t any regular LSE lectures available through either iTunesU or YouTube.com/edu, which I guess was his intention. Finally, today’s most entertaining presentation was by Steve Hull from JISC Digital Media who gave a talk on the basics of producing good quality films using basic equipment, such as a Flip camera. Rather than try to describe the talk I can recommend watching when it becomes available. Which of course prompts me to mention that all of the sessions at this conference are being recorded by Echo 360, so if you aren’t at the conference you can just go to the conference schedule page and click on the link to each session and then find the Echo 360 link for the recording.

There are of course the now usual Twitter and Flickr feeds and I think this conference definitely has the highest ratio of iPhones per participant that I have been to so far. Maybe I’ve only noticed because I’ve just acquired one myself 🙂 but then given the subject of the conference there’s almost certainly a high concentration of Apple fans here I think.

It’s the conference dinner this evening, then a few sessions tomorrow morning and of course the 5 hour train journey back to London to enjoy.